I made the move to Darwin late November 2015 and was pretty damn excited to explore more of my home country. The Top End of Australia has the lowest population density in the country, and is home to a vast array of stunning landscapes and scenery. From out of this world Uluru and the red centre, to croc country in the tropical North and even to the remote and little visited East Arnhem Land in the East – the Top End is Australia at its most intriguing, and I couldn’t wait to explore as much of it as I could!
Not too long after I made the move, my dear old Dad came to visit me and Darwin for the first time – and what better excuse than to take him with me to do some exploring!
We decided to spend a full day together, starting with a cruise on the Adelaide River to spot some big crocodiles!
To get to the starting point of the cruise, we first had to travel around 64km south of Darwin along the Arnhem Highway via Humpty Doo (yes, that is a legitimate name) to the Adelaide River Bridge. Along the way we stopped to check out the lush green wet season foliage and some huge termite mounds!
During the dry season (May – October) there are quite a few options for cruises, but during the wet season (November – April) options are fewer, however, these options are by no means sub par.
We went out with Adelaide River Queen Cruises who run several 1 hour trips per day. Tickets are $45 per person, and if you want to see some big crocs, this is money very well spent!
All along the Top End of Australia is well known to be ‘Croc Country’. The rivers, oceans and estuaries are all widely inhabited by the prehistoric and predatory Estuary Crocodile – also known as a Saltwater Crocodile. These saltwater crocs – or “salties” as they are affectionately dubbed by locals – grow to be absolutely enormous and are responsible for the deaths of several people each year.
Despite being one of Australia’s most infamous inhabitants – these beasts are pretty amazing, and I was so excited to see them in their natural habitat!
After boarding our little boat (and scoring the best seats in the house) it was off in search of some salties!
It didn’t take at all long to meet our first crocodilian!
This little fella sensed the relatively easy meal and came to investigate. These crocs definitely have learned that these cruise boats mean food, and carry an air of indifference when approaching the meat.
But then out of nowhere…
They lunge for it!
The crocs do not use their tails to push off from the river bed, but are able to propel themselves out of the water using only the strength of their tails moving through the water. The crocs may have learned that the boats mean food, but this jumping action has not developed as a result of these cruises. The crocodiles have always had the ability to jump, it is instinctual and not a learned behaviour.
After our first croc had eaten his fill, it was off to see if we could find more crocs! It didn’t take long before a rather big boy made his presence known.
The guides of these cruises know this river extremely well, and as a result, have several crocodiles that they have named and are able to identify with ease. This fella is apparently extremely lazy and almost never makes the swim back to the ocean to clean himself off. They named him Stumpy.
We know that this crocodile is a male due to his size. Female saltwater crocs never grow bigger than 3 metres long, but male salties will keep growing until the day they die! Stumpy was about 4.5 metres long – so we know that he is definitely a ‘he’!
He may be big, but he is still seriously agile!
After our encounter with the mighty Stumpy, it was getting on a bit and it was time to turn the boat around and head back to our starting point.
Along the way we met one last little Crocodilian, a smaller fella who was more than eager to show us his jumping in exchange for an easy meal.
T H E L O W D O W N
Getting to Adelaide River: From Darwin, drive along the East Arnhem highway via Humpty Doo to the Adelaide River Bridge
Adelaide River Queen Cruises: Cruises run all year round, for more info click here
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1 with 12-40mm M.Zuiko Pro Lens
Threads: During the day I am wearing a cute maxi skirt by Aussie label Tigerlily
Remember: Don’t dangle any limbs out of the boat!