Embrace your inner Crocodile Dundee with a croc encounter
It might be 32 years since Crocodile Dundee leapt onto the big screen to become the second-biggest grossing film worldwide – but in Queensland, the legend is yours for the taking.
Up and down the coastline you can have your own croc-encounter and let you inner Dundee shine.
Without further ado, don your leather vest and best ocker accent and make like Mick Dundee at these hot spots.
1. Walkabout Hotel
If you’re a fan, get to McKinlay home to the scene-stealing Walkabout Creek Hotel and make it snappy!
“And then bang, this giant crocodile came up, turned him over, bit half his leg off and dragged him under. I mean any normal man would have turned up his toes and died. But, not our Mick.” ~ Walter Reilly.
Just seconds after recounting the story, the legendary Mick Dundee, a croc-hunting Aussie larrikin burst into Queensland’s Walkabout Creek Hotel, 1500km west of Brisbane.
While you won’t find Paul Hogan, or Chris Hemsworth there for that matter, you will find counter meals, cold meal and plenty of memorabilia from the movie.
2. Australia Zoo Crocoseum
Home of the late crocodile hunter Steve Irwin, it stands to reason that the Crocoseum at Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast is our top spot to spot a croc (I challenge you to say that twice!).
Every day, the team choreographs a show that’s jam-packed with jaw-snapping encounters, power swimming, and high-octane leaping, followed by curly crocodile questions like how long can a crocodile can spend underwater at one time. It’s seven hours for those playing at home!
More than just a “Reptile v Chicken” encounter, at Australia Zoo you’ll learn some of the lesser-known facts about this mysterious creature from the people who know best, all tied into a strong conservation message.
3. Koorana Croc Farm
Some rescue cats, some rescue dogs but others rescue crocs, giving new meaning to the phrase “adopt, don’t shop”.
That’s how it all started for John and Lillian Lever in 1981 when they saved a few rogue crocodiles destined for a bullet in central Queensland. The rest is history, or more accurately Kooroona Croc Farm as you see it today.
Fast forward 35 years and Rockhampton‘s Kooroona Croc Farm is an example of captive breeding success, with space for up to 3000 apex predators.
By day or by night, you can take a guided tour of the farm, watch crocs feed, view active nest sites and get hands-on with baby crocodiles. Being the first commercial crocodile farm in Queensland, there’s a gift shop to suit any fashionista stocking handbags, hats, and belts, all made from the most durable croc-leather in the world.
4. Bruce Belchers Croc Tour
With a name like Bruce Belcher, you know the man is going to be a real character, and boy, this crocodile-cowboy doesn’t disappoint.
Bruce has got eyes like a hawk when it comes to spotting a croc – above, on or below the water’s surface. Such precision comes from years of training; he’s been in the croc-spotting game for 28 years and has 40,000 tours under his belt, departing from his private property and winding through the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics of Queensland.
The mangrove banks around the Daintree River have the same effect on crocodiles as Venice Beach has on humans, as they jostle to find a sweet spot on the banks to bake before taking a cooling dip.
It’s not just crocs though, Bruce will point out birds, fish and tree snakes as you weave your way alongside the Daintree Rainforest.
5. Green Island – Marineland Crocodile Park
They build things bigger and better in Queensland’s tropics and Cassius the112-year-old crocodile is no exception.
This leathery fellow holds the record as the largest croc in captivity measuring from teeth to tail 5.48m and tipping 1,300kg on the scales.
Cassius has a lot to thank his captor and caretaker George Craig for – they’ve been together for 30 years and have a special bond, which you’ll see at the daily feeding show.
Despite being an old bloke, Cassius can still propel his massive frame out of the water once he gets a whiff of a bird dangled on the end of a pole.
6. Whitsundays Crocodile Safari
If you thought The Whitsundays was all luxury islands and yachting, think again, my reader. Crocodiles have called this island paradise home for the past 200 million years. At least in the estuarine regions.
Join Whitsundays Safari to spot Proserpine‘s resident crocodiles in the wild estuaries and wetlands that skirt the coastline near the Proserpine River. You won’t need binoculars. These crocs are easy to spot on the banks of the river, as they take a hunting break to sun themselves, which is critical for them to maintain a comfortable body temperature.
7. Billabong Sanctuary
Go for the interactive wildlife shows with the cute and cuddly native animals, but stay for the headlining act – the ‘Rock the Croc’ experience – to see the ‘freshies’ and ‘salties’ (aka freshwater and estuarine crocodiles) power to life.
For the friend who has everything, give the gift of Caesar: a waiter’s view down the gaping jaws and into the gullet of a 400kg crocodile that’s propelled half its body length out of the water at the sight of a chicken drumstick. That jaw is so powerful it could crush a whole water buffalo in one chomp.
8. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
He’s big (almost five metres), he’s heavy (800kg), and he takes no prisoners especially when it comes to food. Once a wild croc with an appetite for the finer things in life, Boss Hog was caught in wild in the 1980s after catching and killing a Brahman stud bull worth more than $10,000.
His punishment was a plea bargain to live out his days at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary with fresh meals delivered to his door.
Dinners aren’t as big these days, but there’s no problem with his appetite. At 12:30pm every day, one lucky visitor each day gets to pole feed chicken to this mighty meat-eating machine.
9. Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures
Hop on board the boat cruise at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures to watch crocodiles propel themselves out of the water to snatch their lunches off a pole. You’ll be close enough to hear the loud SNAP and then watch the croc slip back into the murky abyss. This experience is bound to give you a rush and get your heart pumping.
You’ll learn lots about these prehistoric beauties and be able to get up close and personal to cassowaries, wombats, koalas and other Australian animals. You can cuddle a koala and even hold baby crocs. Trust us, they’re super cute.
Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures is just 40 minutes north of Cairns and opens daily from 8:30am to 5:00pm, except for Christmas day.
Still curious about crocs?
Here are a few bite-size crocodile fun facts for you:
- Crocodiles are said to be 200 million years old
- Salties are the largest reptile on the planet, they have around 24 teeth, which they use to tear apart large chunks of meat, ready for swallowing. No time for chewing here!
- A male croc can grow up to seven metres, although crocs over five metres are considered rare
- The sex of the crocodile is determined by the temperature in the nest during incubation
- Baby crocs chirp like little birds to tell their mother that they’re ready to hatch
- Salties are incredibly territorial. Adult males will share territory with females, but drive off rival males
- Crocodiles are said to have the strongest bite of any animal in the world
- Despite being an aggressive breed, female crocodiles are quite maternal to their young