Crocodile Safari

SOMETIMES ignorance is bliss.

There are about 150 crocodiles that call the Proserpine River home.

Considering we saw about 20 big crocs and 20 baby crocs when we went out on the water, that means there were a heck of a lot more we didn't see.

It was a bright, clear day when we were picked up by the courtesy bus and were taken to Glen Isla, a small district of Proserpine.

By "we", I mean myself, my husband Lee, and my four girls - Renee, 11, Amy, 8, Kayla, 7, and Brooke, 4.

We turned off down a dirt road and my girls were excited when they caught glimpses of wallabies jumping through the bush as we made our way to the campsite.

Upon our arrival we were greeted by Steve Watson, our tour guide for the day.

Steve ran through the plan for the day which included a two-hour boat cruise on the Proserpine River crocodile watching, followed by a BBQ lunch before heading out on an open-air tractor drawn wagon tour through the wetlands.

Once on the boat, Steve ran through the safety rules - the most important : keep your limbs inside the boat - if you want to keep them that is.

As we leisurely cruised up the river, Steve gave a running commentary about the tropical environment which is home to many species of native birds, mammals, reptiles and marine animals.

He interrupted his commentary every so often when he spotted a croc warming itself on the banks of the river.

Steve has an eagle eye when it comes to croc spotting, as it often took a minute or so for us to pinpoint the same croc. Some of the crocs were a bit shy and as soon as they heard the boat they were straight into the water, silently and smoothly slipping in.

But others were more than happy to continue sunning themselves, barely even raising their head to see what was happening.

These crocs pretty much ignored us as we got in close and the cameras were snapping. Even when Steve turned the boat around so the people on the other side could get a good look, the crocs just lazed in the sun.

At this time of year it's pretty cold in the water, so the crocs would rather stay on the warm river bank than get in the water.

It's amazing to see these creatures up close - they all have differently coloured hides, depending on how much of the tannin from their environment they've absorbed - and they are pretty damn big.

The baby crocs ranged in size from one to two feet and they are small enough to still be considered cute. A few groups of babies hung around their mum but were quick into the water when the boat got close. Survival instincts kick in early for these estaurine crocodiles.

Before long we'd motored back up the river to our starting point and decamped the boat for a BBQ lunch.

Then it was on to the tractor-pulled open-air wagon for a tour of the Goorganga wetlands, which features flood plains, melaleuca forests, saltpans and pastures.

One of the most interesting things we discovered on this part of the tour, was that the whole Proserpine  area and surrounds are effectively a volcanic crater, with the mountain ranges forming the crater wall.

This explains the highly fertile alluvial plains where sugarcane predominantly is grown in this region.

The Whitsunday Crocodile Safari was an educational and fun tour of an area that is almost a hidden gem in the Whitsunday region.

Liz Carson and her family were hosted on this trip by Whitsunday Crocodile Safari (www.crocodilesafari.com.au)

Factbox:

  • The safari was the first tour in the Whitsundays to receive advanced eco-certification with Ecotourism Australia, which means the tour has a natural area focus and is hinged on the principles of ecotourism.
  • Whitsunday Crocodile Safari has been running since December 2000 by locals Jacqui and Steve Watson.
  • Over 50,000 domestic and international visitors have taken in the unique Australian wetlands and estuaries since then.



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