When I told one particular friend with Darwin connections that we were headed here, she said “I’ll bet you go to see the jumping crocs”.
She was right.
Yesterday afternoon we headed out of Darwin, along the Stuart Highway towards the Adelaide River. Turning left onto the Arnhem Highway, we drove through lush mango orchards and then wetlands until we reached the bridge.
We knew we’d arrived when we saw a huge concrete jumping crocodile by the side of the road, because this was another of the high profile visitor attractions of the area.
The Adelaide Queen is one of a handful of boats running similar activities and I was glad to see the young family who arrived at the same time as this horde of tourists didn’t lose out – they took their trip on a smaller boat and were able to escape the rest of us!
No sooner were we moving, than the still, calm river water was disturbed by a slight movement. The first croc was heading towards us.
It was around now that any misconceptions were dispelled, because the chap doing the commentary referred to this creature by name.
“Oh here’s Scary Croc”, he said, “he’s got things worked out all right”.
He certainly had, because no sooner had he swum to the side of the boat, a pork chop was dangled over the side and he was coaxed to jump for this bait.
Now, picture the scene – fifty or sixty people with cameras all want to take a shot of this creature and all choose to move to the same side of the boat at the same time.
Could have been interesting!
Some were determined and found a way forward, others simply stood back and waited for the next croc to appear on the other side. Because they came thick and fast once we got going and yes, every single one of them had a name.
Most were pretty lazy and simply put their heads up, though one or two leapt a few feet out of the water to satisfy the crowd.
We’d never seen crocodiles at such close quarters before, so found it interesting but at the same time, rather disconcerting because what we were really seeing was a kind of circus show.
I’m sure there are strict controls on what is allowed, that animal welfare agencies and suchlike are content with what’s going on, but for me, I found it just that bit too practised.
I found it to be almost like a theme park ride, except the crocodiles here were real living animals and not animations.
Beautiful and scary though these creatures were, I was none too sorry when we turned around and headed back to the pier, especially since the kites and eagles had begun to swoop around.
On the way back, having hitched a ride with another group because our vehicle had a flat tyre, we stopped at the very interesting Window on the Wetlands centre, which had a viewing platform from where one could see for miles in every direction.
We learned all about the Humpty Doo Rice Project
and really enjoyed gazing over part of this vast country.
Last night, the menu featured several Australian specialities to mark our last night in the country. Sure enough, there amongst the starters were Crocodile Fritters! The eight of us around the table ordered a couple to try and then did our best to describe the flavour/texture without much success. All were agreed that it didn’t quite match the delicious barramundi fish which all but two of us chose for our main course (or the banana bread and butter pudding, for that matter).
An half hour or so of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was an “interesting” way to round off the day!