Australia, especially the Northern Territory, is not for the faint-hearted, that’s for sure.
I mean, it’s a place where you could die dehydrated under the boiling sun, suffer a fatal snakebite or be eaten alive by a crocodile!
Two different species of crocodiles can be found in Australia:
- the freshwater crocodile (or freshie as called by Aussies)
- the saltwater crocodile (saltie)
Freshwater crocodiles are not considered dangerous to humans if unprovoked. I wouldn’t bet my life on that, but that’s what every guide will tell you.
The saltwater crocodiles however are a lot less predictable.
If they eat mainly small reptile, fish, bird, dingo, pig, they can also kill and eat much larger prey such as kangaroo, cattle and careless humans!
The name saltwater crocodile is quite misleading. Indeed, saltwater crocodiles can live in the waters along the coastlines but are just as happy in freshwater rivers, swamps and billabongs.
Saltwater crocodiles are the world’s largest reptile and can grow up to 7 metres.
Australia’s killer crocodiles were once hunted to near extinction, but have become plentiful since they became protected species in the 1970’s. Nowadays, there are an estimated 80,000 crocodiles roaming the waterways of the Northern Territory.
That sums up petty much what our guide told us as we were making the first stop of our 3-day Kakadu tour to experience the Jumping Crocodile Cruise.
The Jumping Crocodile Cruise is a renowned boat cruise along the Adelaide River, home to one of the densest concentrations of deadly saltwater crocodiles in the world!
We were about to embark on our worryingly small restored boat, when we noticed a lot of agitation on the quay. The guide from the previous cruise rushed to leave the boat, holding his hand full of blood. Passengers told us that 2 of his fingers had just been chopped off by a crocodile.
Despite the fear and danger, we jumped on the boat. As we started our journey through the stunning beauty of the river, we noticed a little leak. But we tried not to think about what would happen if the boat started drowning into the murky croc-infested river…a certain death!
We quickly spotted some crocodiles sunning and lazing in the mud.
Our guide warned us to keep our hands well inside the boat. We were about to feed the hungry monsters from the “safety” of the boat!
The guide dangled some meat on the end of a stick above the river.
Soon, the first crocodile appeared on the surface and lunged out of the water to grab the meat.
Yep, crocodiles can jump.
It was a real shock to see how massive crocodiles can propel themselves all the way out of the water for a tasty reward.
As the guide repeated this action along the way, we also learned some interesting facts about crocodiles.
Did you now that crocodiles have the ability to keep their eyes open under water or that they kill and store their victims in river banks for several days before eating them? So if you get caught, you will probably die a painful slow death.
We also discovered quite surprisingly that crocodiles are cannibal and don’t hesitate to eat smaller members of their own species.
It certainly was very impressive to see these dangerous creatures up so close (we could have touched them but sorry, but we did not dare).
Beside the crocodiles, we also saw wild sea eagles flying by. We don’t have much stories about them, but they certainly were very impressive to watch.
This hour-long tour was certainly one of our most memorable wildlife spotting excursions.
If Northern Australia is on your list, we really recommend you to take a several-day tour to Kakadu National Park. We will tell you more about Kakadu National Park in a future post on Ozawapi.