The croc circus

The Adelaide River is located in the Northern Territory, unlike its name suggests. It is an area of calm, quiet and crocodiles. Every day tourists come to see the jumping crocs.

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I arrived in Adelaide River in the wet season, so there was only a small group going on the crocodile cruise and therefore we got the small boat. Before setting off on our adventure, we got to meet some of the other inhabitants of the area; some house snakes you could give a cuddle if you were interested.

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And then the cruise… Our captain was a real character, the bush type. His commentary was like an old cassette, in a monotone voice. It seemed to be on repeat as he kept saying the crocodiles could be anywhere. Even if they say a place is safe to swim, there are probably crocodiles. Way to make us tourists feel safe! Apart from information you also got a dose of outback humor, wanted or not: There is one (crocodile), or it’s James Bond, but I don’t think he’s here in the wet.” Do you get it?

The idea behind the jumping croc cruise is that massive pieces of meat on a fishing line are held above the water. The hungry crocs are attracted by it and then they pull up the meat to make them jump. It’s like the circus with real wild animals. Most of them know that a boat will come to feed them every day. The majority of the salties was not in the least interested though. If a croc isn’t hungy, it’s not even going to bother swimming to the meat. This Jurassic looking animal is of the lazy type and a crocodile can survive for a long time on a small meal.

I was lucky enough to see two massive 4 to 5 meter long salties. The rush going through my body was incredible. These animals are so majestic, so surreal. They look like dinosaurs with small T-rex arms and a rough green skin. These creatures are ancient and we are only recently starting to know the truth about them. Research started about 30 years ago, so it’s hard to say how old they really are.

In the seventies the saltwater crocodile almost got extinct. Being lazy, they don’t reproduce at a fast rate either. A lot of the young crocs don’t survive. Now, the numbers are growing again slowly. Not everyone is aware of this though, and some locals still think there are barely any crocs around and waters are safe to swim in. Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there though.

Every time our guide and captain shouts that he sees one, I am still looking around me, staring in the distance for a couple of minutes before I even know where it’s supposed to be. Crocodiles can stay underwater for a long time and this is how they surprise their prey. You don’t realize how big they really are until they are jumping out of the water close to the boat. It’s kind of terrifying to know that these animals have the strength to jump into your boat if they’d feel like it.

Luckily they don’t like to put much effort into doing things. First they don’t even seem interested in jumping for their food, but after hanging around the boat for a while, a crocodile decides to go for it. A massive mouth opens, showing dangerously sharp teeth. Not the kind you want to see up close… I can’t help but think about all those videos and series I’ve seen where people suddenly encounter one of these beasts.

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The crocodile is one of the oldest animals on this planet and seeing them they demand your respect. It is fascinating to see this mighty animal in his territory. I’m shivering as another one jumps up from the water. It’s all so sudden. As an encore they also feed some birds. I’ve forgotten which kind, cause to be honest, my head was still with the crocodiles. This one hour cruise was one of the highlights of my outback trip.

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