Day 167: Way Outback… Crocodile Encounters

I was on a ten day tour and Day 7 could be described as a rest stop in the touring and camping agenda.

We arrived in Darwin the previous afternoon for two nights before setting off on the final three days of this particular adventure.

It was a chance for doing laundry and stocking up on supplies, you know… more insect repellant, waterproofing spray because we are forecast rain and my jacket could do with a top up… and oh, yes… a replacement travel towel being as mine was now residing at Banka Banka Cattle Station.

Nella, Simon and I met in the bar and headed down to the Waterfront Precinct for dinner. There is a Light Festival taking place so we briefly wandered taking in some of the installations.

This morning was hot and humid and In search of breakfast, I was distracted by some fantastic street art murals. Melbourne may be more famous for its street art but I think Darwin’s offer is better.

There is also an app you can download to view them in 3D and interact with them. It’s the result of a Street Art Festival held in September 2019.

The barmaid in the hostel told me it’s part of a way to promote Darwin but it seems they’re keeping it quiet. I wouldn’t have heard about it if she hadn’t heard me telling Nella and Simon about what I had seen.

You may remember the Men Behaving Badly – the two Aussies I met in New Zealand on the Northern Explorer.

They had recommended a trip to Crocosaurus Cove while I was in Darwin so I headed there.

I ended up spending a good few hours there as there is more to see than crocodiles though, frankly, they are definitely worth a visit.

There are five or six saltwater crocodiles – the males all around five metres long and the female coming it at about two.

Each of the scaly critters has been ‘rescued’ though I say rescued – it’s more that they’ve been removed from where they were causing problems.

Leo was taken from a cattle station in the 1980s where he was killing far too many cows for the station owner’s liking.

You can even swim with the buggers if you want to. That’s NOT me in this picture. No chance.

The station owner, Leo Venturin, helped establish a crocodile farm and Leo was placed there… but he kept escaping and attacking the other crocodiles.

Saltwater crocodiles are incredibly territorial so he was removed to Crocosaurus.

Houdini and Bess were renamed William and Kate in honour of the 2011 royal wedding.

Kate, taking it easy.

William initially used to stalk Mindil Beach in Darwin where he developed a real affection for dogs. The bereaved dog owners had a lot less love for William so he was eventually removed and placed on the crocodile farm.

Why do I say eventually?

He was able to take the bait from traps but escape before the was captured. Crocodile keepers still haven’t worked out how.

The keeper telling the audience about this reprobate said that she reckoned he had decided that being captured would be an easier life and that’s the only reason he was caught.

However, once at the farm… he kept escaping and attacking the other male crocodiles. He eventually found Kate and the two of them have stayed together as a breeding pair.

Feeding time for William while the keepers have an eye out for Kate.

Apparently this is unusual. The males will have several mates during each breeding season.

Kate has recently hatched a clutch of eggs and the babies were thriving in a nearby pool.

I heard somebody comment on how cute they are… tiny but vicious.

They have to be separated from dad as male saltwater crocs eat their young. Well, it’s an easy lunch, I guess.

At the other end of the age scale is Burt – over 80 years old, famous for starring in Crocodile Dundee and for attacking any female that goes near him.

Basically, Crocosaurus Cove is a Maximum Security for crocodiles that can’t be held by any other prison.

If the crocodiles aren’t enough reason to visit – alongside the opportunity to watch them being fed or hearing several talks about their behaviours – the reptile house is fascinating and the keepers are very happy to chat and answer questions about the animals.

Frantie the perentie caught my attention as it looked like he was trying to dig his way out of the glass cage. The keeper explained that, no, he just likes digging.

She explained that they are intelligent animals and can be trained. Frantie is currently learning how to sit on his keeper’s shoulder and be cuddled without digging his claws in.

I also got to watch feeding time.

Less scary than crocodile feeding time but I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of those teeth.

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