Little freshwater croc sleeping on the log

Day 415 – Day 420: Mambi Island Boat Ramp – Ivanhoe Crossing

Tuesday, 22 – Sunday, 27 July 2014                                                                       34.6kms

During the next 5 days at Mambi Island, Hendrix and Elokin both caught their first Barramundi’s. Hendrix released his after his photo as it was just shy at 54cm, but Elokin’s was a keeper at 55cm. Nath also caught 2 more in one evening and both were 62cm. He just can’t seem to get bigger than the 63cm of the last trip.

The night of Nath’s 2 Barramundi was an interesting one. We had a visitor come into camp. Nath had left the 2 carcasses in the 9L bucket and decided to bury them in the morning as Jan had left one of his carcasses on the ground in his camp for 2 nights and nothing had happened to it. After putting the kids to bed, Nath and I fell asleep in our camp chairs next to the fire and woke up at 10pm to go climb into bed. At 1am, after much kicking, Nath finally woke me from my slumber to look out the window as he was shining the torch at something. Before my eyes had adjusted, I look to see and mutter “what is that, a cane toad on steroids?” as the colouring was right and I was only looking at the section directly under the light. I think Nath kicked me again at that point and I took another look. This time my eyes opened wide as I saw a 3m+ saltwater crocodile laying in camp with the 9l bucket in his big open mouth. He lay frozen, and it was actually quite comical, as we imagined him thinking, ‘did they notice me?’ or ‘if I lay really still they won’t see me’ with only his eyes moving back and forth. I attempted to take a photo with the phone, but the flash hit the flyscreen and whited out the pic. Bugger. So as I leant over Nath to grab the camera, the croc stood on his back legs, spun 900 in the air and ran full pelt head first into a tree, as he couldn’t see where he was going thru the bucket. Yes, it was still firmly in his mouth, his teeth were through the bucket. He was dazed momentarily, but recovered quickly to slink off back to the water. The bucket was gone.

In the morning we ventured down to the bank to see if any of the bucket remained. It didn’t. Not a trace. We could see the track where he had walked up the bank on his feet, dragging only the tip of his tail, to a place under a tree where he lay for quite a while to leave a perfect belly print on the damp mud. This is the scary part, how long had he been laying there? Was he on the bank watching us sleep in our camp chairs near the fire? It remains a mystery, and a reminder not to become complacent around crocodiles, as that bucket could easily have been one of us.

On Thursday we went croc spotting in the tinny. Elokin kept a tally, as that was the maths unit she had just learnt so we put it into practice. In just our section of river between rapids, she counted 16 freshies, 7 salties and 2 unidentified. On our way back to camp that evening in the dark, Nath wanted to catch some live mullet in the cast net. So I had to drive the boat. The outboard was playing up and revving too high, so every time I clunked it in to gear, it nearly threw a standing Nath out of the boat into the dark croc infested water. I also had to hold the torch for him to see the mullet and avoid crashing into the bank and snags, as that is where the mullet were. Drive in, go along the bank, Nath throws the net, clunk it in reverse, turn the outboard the wrong way and nearly run over the net, quickly put it in neutral to avoid damaging the net, keep the light where it has to be, correct the boat…. All in all, I had a shit of a time! Stressed out and in a fluster. And no, it wasn’t worth it!

That night Linda (Jan’s wife), Nath and Jan went out in their boat to use the liveys. Linda had something big run off with her bait but it bit her off. They didn’t catch anything else.

We caught more cane toads for the burning in the evenings that we were having a fire. One night we caught 3 massive ones. Hendrix pretended to eat one like Shrek!

Hendrix and the cane toad
Hendrix and the cane toad

On our last morning, we watched a stunning sunrise as there was clouds around. It almost looked like rain was on the way. We discovered that we had a flat battery when the car wouldn’t start to go do to retrieve the tinny at the boat ramp. Hendrix and Elokin played at Linda and Jan’s bus and had a ball. They got spoilt, as did we when we went to say goodbye. Linda gave us a jar of her homemade strawberry jam and a bag of her dried fruit and nuts to snack on in the car. That day Elokin finally felt brave enough to try feed one of the cows that had come into camp every day. She desperately wanted to touch one. The cow took the leaves from her and touched her hand. One of the other cows watching on decided it wanted the special attention too. But El was a bit frightened of it as it had horns, so she put the leaves on the ground for it to collect itself. That mustn’t have been good enough for it, because as the kids were walking down to Linda and Jan’s to say bye, the cow charged at her. Nath and I had gone to wash our hands at the water’s edge and were walking back up to hear a shrill from Elokin. She sounded absolutely terrified and came flying around the back of the camper and into our arms in tears. We then asked frantically where Hendrix was, when he too came screaming hysterically around the car. The cow was freaked too and ran off down the road. No-one was injured thankfully. But we learnt not to feed the cows from now on. After all the excitement we drove the 30 odd kms to the Ivanhoe Crossing for the night.

Until next time…. Happy and Safe Travels.

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