Crocodiles …

LEPIDUS: What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?

ANTONY: It is shaped, sir, like itself, and it is as broad as it hath breadth. It is just so high as it is, and moves with it own organs. It lives by that which nourisheth it, and the elements once out of it, it transmigrates.

Shakespeare Antony and Cleopatra

The crocodilians first appeared in the fossil record in the Cretaceous 95 million years ago. They include the crocodiles, alligators, caimans and gharials. We have two species in Australia popularly known as freshies and salties. They are confined to the tropics and particularly common on the front page of the NT News.

The Estuarine or Saltwater Crocodile is the largest crocodilian of them all. It’s range extends from the East coast of India eastward along the Asian coast, around Papua-New Guinea and northern Australia. It penetrates the larger river systems. In its realm it is the apex predator.

Amongst the things that nourisheth our salties are people and therein lies a problem. It is reported that in the 33 years 1971-2004 there were 62 definite, unprovoked attacks, 17 of which were fatal. That averages out to 1.9 attacks each year in Australia, 70% of victims lived to tell the tale, sometimes a rather gruesome one.

So, chances of getting eaten by a crocodile are not high. The chances of a crocodile being eaten by a human on the other hand are higher. Currently selling at $32/kg from Southside Quality Meats – tastes like chicken. Crocodiles are, after all, birds closest living relatives.

Estuarine Crocodile

The Freshwater Crocodiles ha a longer narrower snout. It is mainly a fish eater, people are not on the menu but they can inflict a nasty laceration. Usually the culprit is a female guarding her nest.

Freshwater Crocodile, Norman River Qld.

Although risks are low there are ways to increase them. Have a read of the Crocodile Chronicles for examples. Jumping off the bridge at midnight into crocodile infested waters is definitely suboptimal. In Africa and Asia many people have no choice but to fish, wash and draw water from dangerous places. Figures are extremely rubbery but a thousand people a year taken by crocodiles is often quoted. In Africa it is the Nile Crocodile with the fearsome reputation.

Young Nile Crocodile, Nile River, Uganda.

I took the next photograph on an Adelaide River Jumping Crocodiles cruise …

These guys have learnt to jump out of the water chasing pieces of meat tied on a string. It passed me so close that I could hear it ticking. The only thing between me and it was air. Connie, our guide, said “If it takes a fancy to you there’s not much I can do with a pork chop on a string.”

LEPIDUS: ’Tis a strange serpent.

ANTONY: ’Tis so, and the tears of it are wet.

Christmas down under …

Warning. If the reason you don’t watch Game of Thrones is the bad language now is the time to leave …

For those of you in the northern hemisphere especially, I started the day with a quick dip in the pool, the family are just arriving for lunch, we’ve already exceeded the forecast 35°C (98°F).

A story from Darwin to touch the cockles of the heart springs …

Duty Superintendent James O’Brien said the woman, who had just moved from interstate, was walking her dogs at a park at Durack, in Palmerston, about 9:00am on Saturday.

“It’s quite a remarkable to happen a day before Christmas,” Duty Superintendent O’Brien said.

“While some of her dogs were running around having fun, one of her smaller dogs was sitting on the edge of the causeway when she noticed a crocodile came up and took it down into the water. <ABC>

She, of course immediately jumped in after it, found it underwater and tossed it out onto the bank. Woman and dog are doing well.

Police described the action as “brave” but not recommended.

Better news than Christmas 1974 …

Tropical Cyclone Tracy is arguably the most significant tropical cyclone in Australia’s history accounting for 65 lives, the destruction of most of Darwin and profoundly affecting the Australian perspective to the tropical cyclone threat.

By world standards, Tracy was a small but intense tropical cyclone at landfall, the radius of gale force winds being only about 50 km. The anemometer at Darwin Airport recorded a gust of 217 km/h before the instrument was destroyed.


It was Broome this year on cyclone watch. Yvette didn’t wreak so much destruction but she did dump 226 mm of rain on the airport in just 24 hours. That’s 8.9 inches in the old money.

Meanwhile in Shanghai this gentleman is wandering around in an oblivious crowd thinking his tee shirt says “Christmas greetings from Australia” …


I wonder how many people are wandering around Australia with messages of a similar nature tattooed on their surfaces in Chinese characters. For any one who can read Chinese tomorrow at the beach is the time to look.

Enjoy your Christmas.


Kings and Princes …

In 1820 Phillip Parker King, exploring the Kimberley coast in the good ship Mermaid, came across the mouth of a river. He named it the Prince Regent River after the soon to be King George of Hanover and appropriately enough he named the bay it issues into Hanover Bay. King had been instructed to pay particular attention to any river that might provide a navigable route into the centre of Australia, there was still a strong belief at the time that there might be an inland sea or at least a Mississippi size river to be found. He also needed fresh water.

He recorded in his journal that as his men rowed up the river …

At a distance of 17 miles from St George’s Bank we were surprised by hearing the noise of a fall of water. But distrusting our ears we were not convinced of the fact until an opening in the mangroves exposed to our view a cascade of water 160 feet in breadth falling from a considerable height.

King Cascade

King continued up river until he was satisfied that it didn’t offer access to the inland and collected water on his way back to the Mermaid. The falls are now called the King Cascade.

In fact the river arises not that far away in the Caroline Range. The line of least resistance was a fault line and consequently the Prince Regent River runs a remarkably straight course. The few tributaries that it has, also following fault lines, run in at nice orderly right angles.

It is an idyllic place but do resist the temptation to have a swim at the foot of the falls, estuarine crocodiles are common in the river. In 1987 24-year-old American model Ginger Meadows was taken by a four-metre crocodile at this exact spot. And as we were hearing about this sad event we were watching this guy patrol the water behind the boat …

Crocodylus porosus

You can find some thought provoking information from WA Parks about crocodiles <HERE>.


Gir …

From Mumbai to Gir.

Security is tight at Indian airports. To get into the departure terminal you must show a printed itinerary showing your name, destination, flight number, date and time, accompanied by your ID, which for foreigners means your passport. Your friends say their goodbyes on the pavement.

My destination was Gir which is in the state of Gujarat immediately north of Maharashta of which Mumbai is the capital. The nearest airport is Diu, the flight takes about an hour.

India is composed of 28 states and seven union territories. Daman and Diu together make up one of the territories. Along with Goa, Daman and Diu were excised from India by the Portuguese. When India gained control the trio were governed as a single territory, Goa was given statehood in 1987 leaving the two small enclaves of Daman and Diu, 198 kilometers apart, each surrounded by Gujarat. This has enormous practical importance, Diu is a small but busy seaside resort, Gujarat is a dry state. Lunch was accompanied by a couple of refreshing beers.

Then the drive to Gir, as a passenger of course.

No palatial accommodation for me here, although that isn’t to say that good hotels aren’t available. For me one of these tents …


This is the Lion Safari Camp near the small town of Sasan Gir. The lions are a respectable distance away and the tents come with en suite facilities, hot and cold water and plenty of headroom. The camp is situated on the banks of a river, you don’t have to go far to find plenty of birds, the laundry, swimming pool and the odd Mugger Crocodile.




It’s reported that the Mugger is more famous for its tool use than it is for eating people. It is known to balance sticks on its head, birds, especially in the breeding season are tempted to take the sticks … swirl of water, snap, lunch.

I spent the next three nights at the camp making seven forays into Gir National Park and any spare daylight time birding around the river.

Coming soon … the lions of Gir National Park.

Windjana Gorge …

Limestone walls rise starkly from the flood plain of the Lennard river, this is the remnants of the Napier Range formed over 300 million years ago. Windjana Gorge runs through the centre.

It is spectacular and it’s popular, it’s 360 km from Broome and can be reached in about 5 hours. It was the busiest camp site on our Kimberley trip.


This is crocodile territory although only the fresh water variety. They are happiest when there is a big flying fox camp in the gorge. The bats take to the air at dusk and the first thing they do is take a drink. Flying in circles they dip their mouths to the water. The crocodiles line up across the stream and snap at whatever comes near.

On this visit there were just a couple of small camps but the crocs were still smiling.


Freshies are not man eaters but can be aggressive especially females guarding their nests. Always take care