We can all agree there’s no better place than the NT for a spot of campin’, fishin’, and swimmin’. Even the crocs love it too – Ok, probably not campin’. But, you get the idea.
While crocs can be dangerous, following the super safety tips outlined in this article will ensure your camping, boating, or fishing trip is as safe as possible, full of stories and, more importantly, gets you home in one piece.
General Saltwater Crocodile Information
The NT’s crocodile population currently hovers around 100,000; a number larger than any other crocodile habitat in Australia, including Queensland and WA.
Crocs can reach up to 6 meters in size and the many years on this planet, for these archosaurs, has seen them evolve into highly effective predators.
- Crocodiles can hold their breath underwater for approximately 1 hour, reducing their heart rate to 2 to 3 beats per minute
- Crocodiles have sensory organs in their skin to help them detect prey in the water, even in poor conditions
- Crocodiles usually eat fish, but will eat many other forms of prey given the opportunity
Crocwise Safety Tips for Traveling in the NT
On Land, Near the Water’s Edge:
- Observe safety signs and be aware of areas with nearby waters
- Keep children and pets away from the water’s edge, as crocs can attack with lightning speed from undercover
- Camp at least 2 meters above the indicated high water mark and at least 50 meters from water’s edge
- Don’t clean/gut fish, prepare food, throw food scraps, wash yourself or your clothes near the water’s edge or sloping banks. Perform these tasks at least 50 meters away
- Don’t feed the crocs
- Do not interfere with crocodile traps – these have been put in place to capture particularly aggressive crocodiles
- Don’t make fun of the crocs
- Don’t take selfies with the crocs
- Don’t ride the crocs
- Don’t be an idiot
Fishing, Boating and Swimming:
- Always be alert
- When fishing from a riverbank, ensure you’re at least five meters from the water’s edge
- If possible, place an obstacle in between you and the water’s edge when fishing from a riverbank: e.g. a rock or log
- Stay out of the water when fishing
- Do not lean over the water or stand on overhanging logs when retrieving fishing lures or other paraphernalia
- Be aware of you’re surroundings, as a croc could be approaching from behind
- Avoid taking dogs or small children with you, as they could attract crocs to your site
- Ensure your boat has high sides, as crocs can jump and take you overboard
- Never sleep in your boat
- Never use non-powered water vehicles (these are prohibited for use in areas such as Kakadu)
- Avoid entering the water when launching and retrieving boats, as crocodiles will often gather around jettys, boat ramps and common launch sites
- Avoid dangling limbs from your boat
- Use landing nets when retrieving fish, as crocodiles are known for lunging at fish that are suspended from a line
- Wear polarizing sunglasses to improve visibility
- Avoid night fishing
- Don’t clean/gut fish near or on the water
Important Things You Need to Know About Crocodiles in the NT
Unless you’re a Steve Irwin type, you’ve probably fallen for a little bro-science when it comes to crocodile habits and what they’re capable of.
Below you’ll find a quick list containing some important information that may surprise you.
- Crocodiles can be found in pools upstream from waterfalls and will navigate the vertical flow of water to establish new territory
- Crocodiles can be found on beaches
- Crocodiles have been known to travel as far as one kilometre on land away from water
- Crocodiles can be found in large waters, small pools and even mud holes
- Crocodiles are active in both the wet and dry seasons and will take advantage of an easy meal – don’t let it be you.
- Don’t try to outrun a croc by running a zigzag pattern: Crocodiles move in extremely powerful short bursts and your best bet is to run in a straight line as fast as you can
- Crocodiles can be found in both murky and clear waters
- Crocodiles are attracted to loud sounds and vibrations rather than scared by them
Now you know a more about being crocwise in the NT, nothing will stop you from enjoying a holiday in this wonderful land. As long as you take precautions, adhere to safety guidelines and avoid hazardous risks, you’ll be home and hosed and set with a holiday of a lifetime!