REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: A tale of two ... freshies

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First croc at Cobbold Gorge, the second at Lake Moondarra. Photos: Derek Barry

First croc at Cobbold Gorge, the second at Lake Moondarra. Photos: Derek Barry

I've been lucky enough - if you call it that - to see two freshwater crocodiles in the wild this last week.

Freshwater crocodiles (Crocodylus johnstoni) are not the same as the fearsome saltwater maneaters (Crocodylus porosus) seen further north but they are not to be messed with and have been known to bite swimmers such as in this incident in the NT in 2017.

An expert we consulted told us freshies were harmless if left alone, but added a chilling rider: "If approached, there is a risk of being bitten like entering a yard with a dog."

Cobbold Gorge, in the Queensland outback, which I was lucky enough to visit for the first time last week, is so associated with freshies there's even one on their logo.

There are dozens of them in the creek enjoying the permanent water supply.

It didn't take long to see one sunning itself on the bank as our solar-powered boat glided silently down the creek underneath the beautiful Gorge.

Getting fresh with a freshie at Cobbold Gorge last week.

Getting fresh with a freshie at Cobbold Gorge last week.

It was a good 1.5m long, which is the maximum size of males - though our guide reckoned it was a female - they weigh up to 70kg. It was likely hungry too if the open jaws were anything to go by. We saw a second one further along swimming across the creek and disappearing into a cave under waterline.

I felt safe enough in the boat but wondered whether I would be game to take on the "yard dogs" with a stand up paddle down the creek, which Cobbold Gorge Tours also offered.

Luckily for the SUPers their diet consists of native fish, birds, bats, reptiles and amphibians. The Cobbold Gorge crocodiles wait patiently for their smaller prey in the water, snapping at food in a sideways motion, which is then swallowed whole, without chewing.

Crocodile swimming at Lake Moondarra this weekend.

Crocodile swimming at Lake Moondarra this weekend.

On the weekend I was back in Mount Isa in Queensland's Culf Country, and took a drive out to the west side of the lake. There almost directly across from the Clearwater Lagoon I saw another freshie out for a bracing swim.

Freshies are in abundance at Lake Moondarra with dozens of crocs in and around the lake, and I saw another one recently near the boat ramps.

They can get quite big at Lake Moondarra, like this one spotted in 2016 and I was impressed with Jason Hoopert's recent photo of one on the bank.

But Mr Hoopert probably has the right idea of social distancing when it comes to photographing crocs - he took them with a drone.

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