I always wanted to visit Kakadu National Park and now was my chance. You can visit the area independently but as I was limited for time and travelling on my own, I thought I would take a tour into Kakadu National Park. There was plenty of tours to choose from as well. From 1, 2, 3 and more days. I was tossing up between a 1-day tour and a 3-day tour. In the end I chose the 3-day tour. And I’m glad I did cause I had an unexpected highlight. That of spotting crocodiles in Kakadu at night.
Watch Out there’s a crocodile about
We had just finished a fantastic evening barbecue at our Kakadu hostel. Most of us were settling in for an evening of drinking, talking and fighting off insects around the camp fire. I wasn’t expecting what was to happen next. Night crocodile spotting in Kakadu.
“Come on everyone, let’s go croc spotting” the hostel host said enthusiastically.
“Croc spotting!” someone exclaimed “but it’s night time?”
“Well, you don’t have to if you don’t want to” he said somewhat disheartened before adding. “I just thought you’d like to! Kakadu is another world at night!”
He paused to think of what else he could say to sway those hesitant.
“You don’t know when you will be back? But I’ll leave it up to you. I will be leaving in 10 minutes which will give you enough time to grab a jumper, a torch and put on a pair of walking shoes. Therefore, if you decide to come, you can meet me at the hostel gate”.
I already knew that I wanted to go. Afterall, I didn’t come all this way to miss out on anything.
Off we headed into the darkness, a mini bus-load of city dwellers. We were led by a bearded, bare-footed reptile lover along a moon lit dirt track in search of saltwater crocodiles.
After a 15 minute walk which involved brief stops to look at the local flora and fauna. This included a spider which could have easily slapped someone with one of its huge legs, we arrived at a causeway.
What is that smell? What are those orange dots?
“This is close enough” said our host.
The causeway can be crossed by foot during the dry season, but as we weren’t quite in this season yet the causeway still had water rushing over it. Apparently it was a great fishing area. Unfortunately, we were told that only the week before a young boy was taken by a crocodile while fishing with his father here.
Our host spotlighted the causeway with his torch. We were about 50 feet away from it. A long, rough, grey croc tail disappeared over some rocks. This brought gasps of “wow”. It truly was an incredible sight to see a crocodile in its natural habitat. He then scanned the river with his torch.
“Look”, he said excitedly. “see those two orange spots?”
I squinted into the darkness until I saw those two orange spots.
“Well that’s a croc” he said “and a bloody big one too”.
“How can you tell?” someone asked.
“The larger the eyes the bigger the croc. I’d say that one is at least 6 foot long, even more”.
“Wow” someone said. Wow seemed to be the word of the evening as most of us stumbled for words to describe what we were seeing.
The area turned out to be mission control for our crocodile spotting. We all took turns standing next to our host looking at those illuminated, transparent, marble-like eyes. They were hypnotising. I felt like a kangaroo staring into some headlights.
More pairs of orange marbles appeared hovering in the darkness ahead of us. There must have been at least a dozen. No doubt, the buggers were thinking, food, succulent live food of all shapes and sizes, all waiting for an underwater roll. I was glad they were all over there and we were here.
“Have you ever smelt croc before?” our host suddenly asked.
“No” someone said, and I thought, I don’t think I want to.
“Can you smell that briny, salty water smell?”
I stuck my nose out into the darkness and let the smell fill my nostrils. It was an odour I was familiar with. It was similar to the smell of drying seaweed on a beach.
“RUN” our host yelled.
It took a few seconds for what our host said to register, but when it did, I and everyone else joined our host hightailing it back up the track.
Whether this was a joke or not I am not sure. However, if you take a trip into Kakadu and your host of the hostel asks you to come for a walk to do some night croc spotting make sure you stay behind him at all times.
How to organise a trip in to Kakadu
I organised my trip to Kakadu from the hostel I stayed at in Darwin. I had found the hostel by booking it ahead on line through Hostel World. If you want to go on a tour in to Kakadu there are many tours available for a variety of days/nights run by small tour operators. If you want to go in to Kakadu it is easy to organise a tour from Darwin or you can book one in advance. Tours vary in length however, I went on a 3-day trip. I found I got to see loads in 3 days however, I probably would have gone for longer if I had more time.