October 17, 2016

Jumping crocodiles!

The city of Darwin is in the Top End of Australia’s Northern Territory. I’ve quickly learned that the area has two seasons: The Dry and The Wet.

I visited Darwin just before the wet season when the temps were high and the humidity was — as the locals described — very steamy. In November, it gets even hotter and much, much wetter. In fact, the wet season has inspired its own phrase for residents: going troppo. That’s Australian slang for going crazy.

There’s no doubt I would be one of those “troppo” people, so my stay in Darwin was brief and just long enough to squeeze in one of the more popular local attractions — crocodiles!

If you Google darwin+crocodiles, your search will reveal:

  • A variety of croc-themed attractions like Crocosaurus Cove and Crocodylus Park.
  • Plenty of choices for jumping crocodile tours.
  • Lots of news articles about crocodile attacks. Before you enter the water in your tiny boat, or stroll ankle-deep along the beach, be forewarned. There are crocs in those waters!

Googling about local crocodiles turned out to be easier than getting to them. Most of the river tours required an hour-long drive from Darwin, and I didn’t have a rental car. Luckily, there was one company that offered shuttle service (AAT Kings) for an afternoon tour aboard the Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise.

I’m guessing that most tours follow the same format. First, there’s the ride to the Adelaide River. Hot and steamy!

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Passengers board the boat and start cruising.

A chunk of piece of raw meat (ours was buffalo) is dangled over the side of the boat.

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Hearing the boat’s motor, a crocodile swims over for a look.

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And jumps!

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Here’s a jump from soup to nuts. Click on the first photo to start the sequence.

After a bit of teasing, the crocodile gets the chunk of meat. Fair enough.

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While the Adelaide River is said to have a high concentration of Saltwater Crocodiles, they’re not easy to spot from the boat. During our one-hour ride, just three crocs approached us, which I’m guessing is about average for these types of tours. Here’s one taking a peek.

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Two of our jumping crocs were more 12 feet long. Up close, I could see their detail and beautiful coloring. Here’s a big fella. I wish I’d framed his shot better!

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Here’s a smaller one — a lady.

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During the ride, our boat’s skipper peppered her running commentary with lots of jokes about our unseaworthy boat, the crocodiles’ appetite for small children and the futility of the boat’s orange life preservers — crocs are attracted to bright colors!

Our boat had two levels, and I stayed on top for the entire ride. At one point, I could hear our youngest passenger (age 6 maybe?) crying on the level below. Later, as we were disembarking, he showed me a bracelet he’d made during the ride. He also told me that he’d liked seeing the crocodiles. It was the raw meat that has scared him so much.

I told him it had been the opposite for me. The crocodiles looked scary. And the meat looked … delicious!