Jumping Crocodiles in Darwin

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!

This is my dear old Dad
This is my dear old Dad

northern-territory-termite-mound

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!

northern-territory-arnhem-highway

northern-territory-arnhem-highway

northern-territory-arnhem-highway

northern-territory-arnhem-highway

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!

adelaide-river-crocodile-darwin

After boarding our little boat (and scoring the best seats in the house) it was off in search of some salties!

adelaide-river-crocodile-darwin

It didn’t take at all long to meet our first crocodilian!

adelaide-river-crocodile-darwin

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.

adelaide-river-crocodile-darwin

adelaide-river-crocodile-darwin

But then out of nowhere…

adelaide-river-crocodile-darwin

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.

adelaide-river-crocodile-darwin

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.

adelaide-river-crocodile-darwin

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.

adelaide-river-crocodile-darwin

adelaide-river-crocodile-darwin

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’!

adelaide-river-crocodile-darwin

He may be big, but he is still seriously agile!

saltwater-crocodile-darwin-northern-territory

adelaide-river-crocodile-darwin

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.

darwin-adelaide-river-crocodile

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.

darwin-adelaide-river-crocodile

darwin-adelaide-river-crocodile

darwin-adelaide-river-crocodile

T H E Β  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!

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20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

47 thoughts on “Jumping Crocodiles in Darwin

  1. News of a crocodile called Brutus has reached us over here. He’s 5.5 metres long, over 80 years old, but more famous for having just three legs after (losing?) a fight with a shark. I didn’t understand how the two could meet, but now you explain that they’re salt water creatures and swim back to the ocean to clean themselves it makes more sense.

    He was famously photographed on the Adelaide River cruise so I guess he must be in your area. It’s a pity he didn’t come out to play for you.

  2. That is amazing. I did not realize they could jump so. We had an adventure a few years back in Florida in which we were cycling alongside of gators sunning themselves not far away. We all kept our distance. Cheers!

  3. I have seen a few alligators, at a nature preserve, in the south of Texas, a few years back. They could not hold a candle to the salties, though we, too, viewed them strictly from boardwalks and boats.

  4. Fantastic pics, lovely article & reading this is about as close as you’ll ever find me to an actual croc of any kind but I’m gobsmacked at the sheer size of these salties! I didn’t realise they grow right up until they die! Cheers for sharing & some interesting facts too 😎

  5. Outstanding! Everything about that post is great…although I must say that your Dad seems underwhelmed. πŸ˜„ love the termite mounds and the croc pics are fab. Good work.

    1. Not underwhelmed at all, just not a fan of being photographed. I think I have taken about 5 selfies, total, and they were all at European landmarks. Prefer to be behind the lens. And I must thank Ellen for catching me at my sweaty worst. Mischievous bugger, that kid. Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…… πŸ™‚

      1. Superb! Love it! πŸ˜€ Perhaps it is the duty of kids to try to catch the folks unawares. Those pics of the crocs jumping out of the water were amazing.

  6. Whew, that Stumpy is a big fella! It reminds me of a swamp tour I took in the Lousiana Bayou about a decade ago, where I met Stumpy’s freshwater American cousin, an alligator named Jezebel! I love your shots of the crocs jumping out of the water! Amazingly agile!

  7. I know it’s totally the WRONG animal, but…..I see this and the music to JAWS plays in my head and I think….soooo NOT putting my toes in that water!

    Love the post and photos. I wonder if this is like an American trip to the Florida Everglades. I went when I was young, but alas have no killer pictures like yours
    To show for it! πŸ˜€

      1. Oh dear! I will probably look at them in pure panic fearing for your safety even though i know you are safe!

      2. So they are tied down and gagged? I’ve done the Everglades tours over here in Florida….I know quite a few facts about their speed in and out of the water and jaw strength. Lol

      3. I thought you said you swam with them! Maybe I misread something. soooo out of it lately!

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