Spectacular Jumping Crocs
Let the name speak for itself, eh? With a choice between The Original Jumping Crocs Cruise and The Spectacular Jumping Crocs Cruise we went not only for the one with the awesome name, but the one that was $5 cheaper and reccommended by Dave at the Window to the Wetlands Visitor Centre.
Oh, so glad we did! Spectacular was down the end of a 2km dirt road which the tour buses obviously don’t like. Turning up for the 11am tour and there was only five other tourists there! We got to go out in their smaller boat (closer to crocs!) but go further up river than normal for a longer tour seeing no one was in a rush.
Now I don’t know about you, but when I first heard of the concept of a Jumping Croc tour, I thought the tour company would have three or so crocs trained to come up to the boat, snap wildly at a hunk of meat and that would be that. Five second photo op, please buy one of our much better photos at the kiosk.
Even as we first trooped onto the boat, our young South African girl guide (another unexpected - I thought the tour guide would be a Steve Irwin incarnate) pointed out not one, but FOUR crocs sunning themselves on the banks closeby! Turns out we had chosen the perfect time and day for a tour, the tide was low, exposing plenty of muddy bank and it was just the time of day where the crocodiles had enough energy to move into the sun, but not enough to go swimming too much. As we motored up river, we saw tens of, nay HUNDREDS! of, crocodiles sunbaking and swimming - they were everywhere! We saw one particulalry massive male and managed to get the boat right up close to where he lazily eyed us off the bank. Holy bedjeezus, I’m not getting any closer to that dinosaur, thanks!
It was so nice to be reassured that these crocodiles were indeed wild animals. Some didn’t mind us coming close because they were used to the boats, but others skittered off straight away.
When it finally got to the feeding and therefore jumping part of the trip, we slowed down and the assistant/Meat Dangling Lady plopped some buffalo(!) meat into the water, from where in hung off a rather long stick. Some of the crocs that have learned that boat motor plus a slopping sound equals food would cruise on over, but it wasn’t a huge roar and gulp. The crocodiles would take their time and swim around a bit, and once they had decided they would like a bite, the Meat Dangling Lady would keep it just out of reach twice before feeding the croc on it’s third jump. I was so surprised at the grace and control the animals had when jumping out of the water - it was so calm and gentle, yet violent as the jaws finally cracked down on the meaty bones.
Another highlight was the amount of birds spotted along the way. We fed some circling kites by throwing them pieces of lamb but the best was a huge male sea eagle who apprently has chicks in his nest. He wasn’t after a little chunk of lamb, so the Meat Dangling Lady tied some buffalo to the stick and held it high off the side of the boat. The eagle swooped down to us to grab his prize and the spread of the wings so close was just magic. Arthur River Cruise, eat your heart out!