(!) Read Part 1 here.
15th of September 2017
Today we started our adventure with the Jumping Crocs on Adelaide river. The place where we waited for the tour had a country/redneck vibe. Our co-tourists looked relaxed, almost oblivious to the obvious danger behind this tour.
The tourguide, an eager looking man in his early thirties, casually took us to the middle of the river in a medium sized boat. It had a shoulder high metal rail and no other protection. We were told to keep our extremities inside the boat, as they might be chopped off unexpectedly. Great…
The guide then started flinging pork chops at the water. The saltwater crocodiles came in one by one to have a taste of the starter and have a look at the mains – us. Stumpy, Plumpy, Bumpy and Jumpy were most likely some of the crocodiles in that river.
Whistling Kites were also quite a sight for sore eyes. We reached a special spot where they were used to receiving treats. As soon as the guide threw diced pieces of meat in the murky waters, a small cloud of dark brown birds came storming down to catch the easy prey. Their shriek gave warning to all interested predators that the feast was in their name.
Teia skipped today and I don’t blame her, those toothy oversized pickles were no picnic. I felt a bit shaky after the encounter and could not help but wonder: if those crocs can jump that high after a piece of pork, surely they can flop onto the boat.
Did you know that crocodiles use their tail to propel themselves into the air?
After the adventure with the crocs, we went to Corroboree Park Tavern to have some seafood. The tavern was in the middle of nowhere, with a few old fashioned gas pumps outside and samples of dusty bikers here and there.
Inside they had a bit of everything: a counter for food orders made of plied metal, wooden tables and chairs, red brick walls, a merchandise shop full of crocodile printed T-shirts, cards, books, small “bull-shit” bags, didgeridoos, slot machines, an alcohol shop, top shop shows on TV, slideshows of local tourist attractions, a real crocodile skin, a floating leg (hopefully made of plastic), fish trophees, a jukebox, aboriginals using the ATM, tourists making silly remarks (me), bearded bush men, all under an army of committed fans, running at full speed.
After a feast of crab, fish, shrimp and oysters, we went to Mary river for a wetland safari amongst the lillies. From Adelaide river’s Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise to Mary River’s Wilderness Retreat we barely drove half an hour, with Corroboree Park Tavern at half the distance. The view at Mary river, however, was very different from our fear stricken tour from before.
Our guide was a middle aged lady, full of passion for wildlife and a great sense of humour. We were immersed in an aquatic paradise, filled with pastel colours of pink, green and blue.
Our guide slowly slided the tour boat through the deeply rooted, large lily leaves. They were invading our path more and more as we advanced through the, yet again, croc infested waters. The guide’s favourite bird was the Jacana or “Jesus bird”, who got its name from its propensity to “walk on water”, from leaf to leaf. The tiny, red crested birds were very friendly and greeted us without fear.
Another beauty was the Water Darter, with its long, wavy neck and its sharp, pointy beak. It got its name from the way it hunts for fish, by “darting” into the water and piercing its prey with its beak. This strange bird then hops onto a branch and swiftly bangs the fish against the trunk. Its excuse for this beahavior is either “I’m tenderizing the fish” or “I need to get this thing off my beak”. Either way, fish end up sliding down the darter’s endless throat and into its belly.
We had a quick snack of water lily seeds and stem, which taste a bit like peanuts and celery respectively. Lilies are incredible, you can eat most of the flower, while the leaves serve as a waterproof material. Scientists go crazy about lily leaves as they have so many practical uses.
After the break, we spotted two Jabirus, a yellow eyed female and a brown eyed male, on either side of the river. They looked like couple after an argument.
Did you know that Jabirus are the arch nemesis of crocodiles, as they have the strength to pierce through the scalp of an unsuspecting croc.
Sea Eagles were by far the most majestic birds I’ve seen on this trip. Their strong nests can be spotted from a distance, buried in the tall gumtrees. These birds also mate for life, which is a great lesson for humanity.
Some crocodiles were spotted here and there, with a climax of bringing the boat to the bank, next to a medium sized croc, having his siesta. His tail had its tip snapped off and his eyes were reluctant to greet us. I had a feeling that he was one of the little crocodiles (see Schnappi das Kleine Krokodil) , bullied by the larger, alpha male crocs.
Dad asked if he should jump out of the boat, with a smile on his face. ‘Grab its tail and we’ll all get some nice photos.’ was the guide’s equally playful response.
The evening ended with a beautiful sunset over a few crocodiles fighting over half a dead crocodile. Cannibalism is common amongst these fierce creatures. Just before this free cage match we bumped into three boatmen who were off fishing. One of them had his feet ploughing through the dangerous waters. He laughed when we told him to be more careful of the creatures lurking underneath. Let’s just say he missed quite a show…