There are plenty of opportunities to smile at a crocodile in sunny Queensland. Whether it’s from the safety of a wetland boardwalk at the Gold Coast’s David Fleay Wildlife Park, getting hands on with baby crocs at Rockhampton’s Koorana Crocodile Farm, or cruising down a river full of toothy residents at Hartleys Crocodile Adventures in Cairns.
And, of course, there’s Steve Irwin’s iconic Crocoseum at Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast. And they’re all great.
What about spotting crocs in the wild? Well, there are plenty of opportunities to do that too. But as wonderful as it is to spot these prehistoric beasts in their natural habitat, before you run off to don your Khaki’s and get your Crocodile Hunter on, there’s a few things you need to know — the most important of which is that it’s vital to understand that crocodiles are dangerous ambush predators. With that in mind never swim in water where crocodiles may live (even if there’s no warning sign) never provoke or harass crocodiles, and always obey crocodile warning signs when you spot them, as they are there for your protection.
In fact, we recommend only going croc spotting with experienced tour operators and guides who know everything about these awesome prehistoric beasts… and where to find them.
Queensland is just as popular with crocs as it is with tourists, and there are several great tour operators who can help you on your quest. Here are five of our favourite Queensland tours for spotting crocs in their natural habitat;
1. In Port Douglas, a cruise on the Lady Douglas along idyllic Dickson Inlet in search of estuarine crocodiles and other wildlife is a great place to start with the prehistoric beasties spotted on 95% of sailings. The cruise is great for kids as an entertaining and informative commentary helps passengers to learn about the crocs and their habitat.
2. The Daintree River is another top spot for crocs is Solar Whisper — a quiet solar electric boat — gives passengers the opportunity to not only see, but hear and smell the magical Daintree without the interference of noise or fumes. The eagle-eyed and experienced guides means that they have an incredible 99% success rate for spotting the fearsome locals in their natural habitat.
3. The Crocodile Express offers nature lovers an introduction to the Daintree with one hour cruises through croc infested waters. Ask about its ‘Croc Pass’ for free return cruise visits over a three-day period through the saltwater mangrove and rainforest habitat in the lower Daintree, as well as through the freshwater pasture lands and rainforest upstream.
4. Further up the river, Cape Tribulation Wilderness Cruises is the only tour boat permitted to travel up Cooper Creek, around halfway between the Daintree River and Cape Tribulation. Its mangrove discovery tour journeys into the most diverse mangrove system in Australia in search of estuarine crocodiles, and offers visitors a glimpse of what life was like in prehistoric times.
5. The Whitsundays isn’t just about the reef and rainforest. It’s also croc central. Family owned Whitsunday Crocodile Safari offers fully-guided day-trips into the estuaries and wetlands of the Whitsundays. It is the only commercial tour operator on the Proserpine River — the state’s top croc hotspot and home to many species of native and migratory birds, mammals, reptiles and marine animals, including around 150 estuarine crocodiles. It’s a must-do for wannabe croc spotters.