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Never smile at a crocodile


Never smile at a crocodile

Some years' ago when visiting East Timor, I asked a silly question. I recall the kids looking temporarily perplexed, a frown replacing their normal smiling countenance. Crocodiles? "Yes of course mister, they are here in our swimming holes. But when they come, we get out of the water."

It was in the Kimberley of West Australia when we next experienced the saltwater croc factor, one cruising right past our chartered yacht 1km out at sea, and others coming in with the 12m tides, forcing us to flee from sublime rockpools in our motorised dingy back to the safety of our yacht lying just offshore.

But now we are lucky to be in Queensland - Lakefield National Park -having travelled over 500km since that first warning sign... a simple sandwich board sitting on the Cardwell Beach promenade. 'WARNING - ACHTUNG - Recent crocodile sighting in this area'

And today we've finally seen our very first Queensland saltie, here at Catfish Billabong, Lakefield - the second largest park in Queensland - and as always up here, with brightly-coloured warning signs, and reports of nearby saltie sightings.

This specimen is just 1.5m, sort of cute and seemingly fast asleep in the midday sun, on a nice flat rock overlooking a placid Monet pond of white waterlilies with yellow centres.

But it's sure hard to imagine this baby beastie warrants the ubiquitous warnings: "

Crocodiles inhabit this area - attacks may cause injury or death.

*Keep away from the water's edge when launching or retrieving boats.

*Do not clean fish or fish waste near the water's edge.

*Camp well away from water.

And it goes without saying of course... never... ever... smile at a crocodile.