Although I had done a similar cruise nearly 30 years ago I really wasn’t interested in a repeat experience. But my poor husband bleated at me with hang dog eyes that he had never done it and since we were so close he really didn’t want to miss the opportunity, and he would love it to be a shared experience (one of his favourite comments) bla bla bla…
So on our way back to Darwin from two days in the 40-degree heat of Kakadu, we raced to beat the time to arrive with a few minutes to spare at the Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise on the Adelaide River before the boat left for the last one hour session of the day at 3pm. The venue was only about half an hour out of Darwin so had good proximity for anyone staying there to enjoy a short day trip, maybe to combine it with time spent in nearby Litchfield National park also.
Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise on the Adelaide River
Well, it was hot, humid and the cruise before us had only seen the odd saltwater crocodile so we weren’t expecting too much. BUT, oh my god, as soon as we departed the pontoon onto the Adelaide River, I was stunned to see not just one saltie but two or three crocs coming out of the river banks, heading straight for our boat. As they got closer to us, they were actually planing on the surface of the water in an attempt to catch up with us. The boat has to be a certain distance out from the pontoon before they are allowed to start the croc jumping experience. Well these guys knew what was about to happen and they weren’t about to miss out!
When we reached the recommended distance away from our dock, the boat slowed and the all female staff (women apparently are more in tune with the animals behaviour and the crocs respond to that) started to load up their ‘fishing’ rods with meat. The croc ‘bait’ is to tempt them to show us their prowess in being able to jump out of the water. The 18 metre boat is designed with two decks, the lower deck with glass windows, the top deck was open to the air and a sufficient height above the water level to be out of harm’s way.
In this heat saltwater crocodiles are usually basking on the river banks to rest. But we were amazed that it took only a short while for these guys to show us how active they could be. Or maybe they were just that little bit hungrier than they had been for the earlier cruise.
There was one big heavy old croc who came over and made a few half hearted manoevres to grab the rod bait and was eventually allowed to take the bait as he was about to give up.
But a few younger more spirited crocs really went for it, two making three really good jumps to win their prize. These top predators are truly amazing creatures. Strong and agile.
They can leap 1-2 metres out of the water from a dead start and can swim at 10 km per hour, pretty darn fast!
These crocs appear to be residential on the river and staff who go out regularly recognise the different animals quite easily as they are fairly territorial, even having names for them.Â The skipper and owner of the business Peter Saltmarsh gave us a running educational commentary about the crocodiles and their natural behaviour which was fascinating to hear as he speaks from personal experience being in that business for many years now. We both really enjoyed the cruise and certainly came away with a whole new perspective and admiration for these truly wonderous top predators.
I was quite surprised on how many of them were there. It must be quite an eye opener for anyone contemplating fishing off the river banks in the Northern Territory to know what you might be sharing your spot with! There are said to be 80,000 saltwater crocodiles in the salt and fresh waterways of the Northern Territory in Australia and most of the time you won’t see them…
Irene Isaacson travelled to the Northern Territory at her own expense.