Posted in Nature activities, Northern Territory

Cruising the Mary River

Rather than giving any material gifts to the kids for their birthdays, my father decided he would give them experiences instead – specifically tours he had done on previous visits to Australia and which he found exceptional. One of these was a boat cruise on the Mary River.

The Mary River is famous for the large amount of crocs – both “sweeties” and “salties” – lining its banks and inhabiting its waters. However, the floodplains are impossible to navigate by land, which leaves the water the only way to get close to these primal beasts.

After staying at the Point Steward Wilderness Lodge for the night, we packed our things and headed to 30-minute-distant jetty (practically next door, for Norther Territory standards). We were a bit early, so we had a chance to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather before the captain arrived. It turned out that we were his only passengers for the cruise that day, which was a nice surprise.

All passengers on board...
All passengers on board…

The trip started out in the wider part of the river and we slowly made our way upstream.

At the start of the cruise, the river was still very wide...
At the start of the cruise, the river was still very wide.

No sooner had we cast off that we already spotted our first few crocs, lying on the opposite river bank.

Two sweeties and a salty. The count is on...
Two sweeties and a salty. The count is on…

The captain / guide told us that the previous record of croc sightings with him was 27 – established the previous year. And, of course, Kai took up the challenge, doing his best to spot more.

A crocodile stand-off: a salty and a sweety in the shallow waters.
A crocodile stand-off: a salty and a sweety in the shallow waters.

The river is populated both by sweet-water and salt-water crocodiles. We learned that while the salt-water crocodiles can live in the ocean, they also don’t have any issues with living in the sweet waters of the Australian rivers and lakes. They can also grow to astonishing size and eat anything that moves in their environment – including their smaller, sweet-water cousins. So the “little ones” have to pay attention on where they swim…

Some of the salties can grow up to 7m in length.
Some of the salties can grow up to 7m in length.
Next to the crocs, we also saw a whole lot of birds.
Next to the crocs, we also saw a whole lot of birds.
And the wetlands on either side of the river held their own beauty.
And the wetlands on either side of the river held their own beauty.

After about 1 hour we had reached the “end” of the river – the part which is no longer navigable by the vessel. Our final count was: 26 salties and 8 sweeties – setting a new record. Kai was very pleased.

The return trip took another half hour of pleasant boating on the calm river and we arrived back at the jetty very relaxed. If you every find yourself in this part of the world, this is definitely an activity to put on the agenda.

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