Crocodiles

I’m talking about big salties here – or estuarine crocodiles to give them their full name, not the allegedly meek and mild freshies which I haven’t seen yet. Their reputation is well deserved – they are the largest living reptile, and one of very few animals that will actively consider humans prey. They only live in the far north, very occasionally getting down as far south as Fraser Island and certainly nowhere near ‘chilly’ Victoria where we live. Saltwater is also a bit of a misnomer – they live quite happily in rivers, estuaries and lakes as well as in salt water.

Every year people are attacked, sometimes with tragic results. Fatal attacks are rare and make headline news. Often they are because people didn’t take sensible precautions (also in Kriol!), or were frankly being stupid. If I was going to take on a 6m long, 1000kg eating machine with nasty, big pointy teeth I would unquestionably be packing more than a thong.

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This is probably the view you least want to see out in the wild, although if you were attacked in real life it’s highly likely you’d never see what hit you – crocs are ambush hunters. Wildlife alert – this picture was taken in Taronga Zoo, Sydney, as was the featured image at the top. I’m not going to make any apologies for not getting up close and personal with these beasts. The other pics are all genuine wild crocs though.

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They mean it! This is the sign by the side of the Daintree River ferry. Although if you want a bit more spice in your life check out videos of Cahill’s Crossing up in Kakadu.

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They actually look quite cute when they’re babies – but they grow…

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…and grow…

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…and grow. This is Scarface, probably the largest male in the Daintree River at about 5m long, spotted during one of Dan Irby’s river tours. Don’t dangle your hand in the water…

When we’ve been in the far north it’s always felt as though you’re a bit out in the wild. It’s exciting, but you never feel you can completely relax. We spent some fantastic time in Cape Tribulation, so named by Captain Cook after running aground on nearby Endeavour reef. On the first day we walked down to the beach:

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It was pretty idyllic, and the boys rushed off to play in the sea while we sat on the sand under a tree. We waited a while, while the tide slowly went out, and then noticed a large dark shadow in the water near the boys.

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With hearts in mouths we rushed over to find there were rocks that were gradually getting uncovered as the tide went out causing the ominous dark shapes in the water, as you can see above, along with Cape Tribulation itself in the background. False alarm. But you’re never quite sure.

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To finish off here’s something a bit different – as you might imagine such huge and impressive beasts have made significant impacts on local cultures, both ancient and modern. This is a woven crocodile from Papua New Guinea in the stunning Pacific Cultures Gallery in the South Australian Museum, Adelaide. If you’re interested in this perspective then Into the Crocodile’s Nest is a good read.

So long as you’re sensible and heed warnings you won’t get munched. But maybe don’t dangle your hand in the water up north…

See more Australian wildlife

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