Crocodile spotting in the Top End

After Uluru we flew to Darwin and what Aussies call the Top End of the country. The city had a tropical feel to it, which isn’t surprising when you consider it is actually closer to Bali than Bondi. After a day relaxing we headed out to Kakadu National Park on a 4WD tour.

The park is huge – the size of Wales or half the size of Switzerland. It is traditionally a Aboriginal area and indigenous people still live a semi-traditional lifestyle in villages within the park.

We did a load of different activities (a boat trip, bush walking, swimming) and saw some amazing sights (escarpments, wetlands, rock art, waterfalls) but the real highlight was seeing a crocodile in the wild.

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It was resting in the shade on the bank of a billabong (an oxbow lake) looking very menacing. He was absolutely huge, about five metres long and looked prehistoric.

They are amazing creatures and here are some crocodile facts:

  • A crocodile jaw carries 24 sharp teeth meant to grasp and crush, but not to chew. That’s why they swallow stones that grind the food inside their stomachs.
  • They sweat through their mouth.
  • Crocodiles have a four-chambered heart, like birds (their closest relatives) and mammals, for an active life. However, when diving, the heart behaves like a three-chambered reptilian heart, enabling them to stay underwater for longer.
  • They have night vision. 
  • 99% of crocodile offspring are eaten in the fist year of life by large fish, monitor lizards, herons and… sometimes adult crocodiles.
  • Crocodiles can swim just with their powerful tail at up to 25 mph, and can stand underwater two to three hours.
  • They can also execute jumps out of the water, several meters long.
  • Crocodiles can live up to 80 years.

A perfect end to our short jaunt through Oz.

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