Crocodile Dundee would have been in his element. But for the terrified occupants of a tiny boat on the East Alligator River, a remote and wild part of Australia’s Northern Territory, it was an experience they will never forget.
My heart had been pounding more than once on this holiday in Australia’s Northern Territory. But nothing compared to the gut wrenching experience I shared with other terrified visitors on the East Alligator River in a remote area of Australia called Arnhem Land.
I was about to come face to face with the wildest of Australia’s wildlife. A terrifying encounter I will remember for the rest of my life.
Our day’s adventure started placidly enough. We were drifting silently along the East Alligator River in a remote wilderness area called Arnhem Land.
We enjoyed the peace and serenity as we observed Brolgas ( beautiful Australian birds similar to a stork) Sea Eagles, Magpie Geese and crocodiles basking in the sun on the river banks.
Our guide, who could have passed for Crocodile Dundee, warned us that we were “in the croc’s dining room” and to keep our arms inside the boat. He also warned us of the dire consequences of “falling in”.
We became a little edgy however when our guide pointed out a crocodile slipping silently into the water and heading straight for our boat. His 4 metre bulk was largely hidden under the water. All we saw were his snout, the scales on his broad back and his slow moving tail.
Our guide was vigilant and advised us to “watch him”.
Seconds later, all hell broke loose.
The prehistoric monster raised his bulk out of the water, opened his gaping mouth and twice smashed his snout on the bow of the boat.
Some in the boat panicked and screamed. Others just sat there frozen with terror. One backpacker at the front of the boat came face to face with a set of teeth and was so hysterical, she later confessed she almost jumped out of the boat, but remembered the guide’s warning.
Dundee was unfazed. Calmly he started the outboard motor, leaving the predator in the boat’s wake.
When we had recovered, we asked if this was a regular occurrence.
In typically outback Aussie style and with a touch of Tom Jones, he replied with a broad grin.
“It’s not unusual”, he said.
At the end of the tour and over a few cold beers, a few of us shared the thought that he might have had a private arrangement with that beast!
THE FOLLOWING 5 HINTS MAY SAVE YOUR LIFE.
Crocodiles infest all rivers and creeks in Northern Australia. This includes The Kimberley Region, the top end of the Northern Territory and Northern Queensland.
Here are 5 guidelines for your safety if you are visiting these remote regions.
1. Never, EVER swim in these rivers or creeks.
2. Never sleep beside these waterways.
3. Be vigilant at all times when walking on the banks of these waterways.
4. Remember crocodiles are very fast and for a short distance can outrun humans.
5. Dogs and young children are particularly easy and vulnerable victims.
A recent incident outlines the danger of these pre-historic beasts. A man climbed into a crocodile enclosure in Broome Western Australia and for his efforts nearly lost his leg. His escapade made news headlines throughout the world and not surprisingly he was named “Crocodile Dumb-dee.”
HOW TO VISIT THIS REMOTE PART OF AUSTRALIA.
All tours to Arnhem Land and Kakadu start from Darwin and it is advisable to join a tour group. You will need a permit to visit aboriginal owned Arnhem Land and this can only be obtained as a member of a recognised group.
Try to allow 3 days for this visit and stay overnight in Jabiru. The area is a 4 hour drive from Darwin and there is so much to see and do that anything less than this would not allow you time to explore the amazing beauty of the area.
Include a visit to the spectacular Yellow Water Billabong, where you will see crocodiles from the safety of a larger boat, as well as an amazing variety of bird life including the Jabiru.
A must see experience is a visit to 20 000 years old Aboriginal rock art at Nourlangi Rock. These paintings depict the life and times of an ancient culture that has lived in Australia for centuries.