Yes, we have salt water crocodiles in Queensland and yes, they can eat you. But mostly they don’t, which is good.
Taking a boat trip to go crocodile spotting in Port Douglas is a lovely way to spend a few hours, I’ve taken the children many times, they always enjoy it, each trip is different so it’s always a fresh experience.
I’ve posted about living with crocodiles before, what it’s like to share a home with them, today I wanted to give the Lady Douglas a special mention. The family that runs the Lady Douglas are passionate about wildlife and extremely knowledgeable about our crocs and this incredible part of the world. If you are visiting Port Douglas I highly recommended their river cruise. ( UPDATE: Lady Douglas has now changed hands and I don’t know anything about the new owners as yet.)
If you want to see Crocodiles, take a trip on the Lady Douglas
She’s a beautiful boat, purpose built for lazy cruises on Dickson’s Inlet, she has plenty of shade and you can truly enjoy a comfortable ride, wine glass in hand. A complimentary glass of something is included in the price, along with snacks, their chocolate cake is yummy! There is an on board toilet, that makes a big difference if you are travelling with children.
There is plenty to see other than our resident crocs. The cruise takes you up Dickson’s inlet through narrower and narrower waterways, deep into the mangrove forest to get a good look at the local wildlife. Everything from little mud-skippers and crabs to birds of prey. There is a family of Brahminy kites ( red backed sea eagle) that respond to a whistle from The Lady Douglas, they appear from nowhere, swooping down effortlessly to take a fish.
The commentary that goes with the trip is what makes it for me, everything from local history to information on the boats you pass. This one sank in cyclone Yasi and has been sitting there ever since. Boo insisted I take this picture, the kid loves a good shipwreck.
There is plenty of information on our crocodiles and their habits, the Lady Douglas crew seem to know each one personally. This big male lurking in the mangroves is called Bandit, he got that label for raiding local fishermen’s crab pots. This is mud crab territory, try them, they’re delicious!
The scenery is spectacular, Port Douglas is backed by mountains, the dip in the middle of the range below is the Mossman Gorge, another local attraction.
There is a special treat for the children towards the end of the cruise, this is my boys’ favourite part.
Wild Crocodile Spotting in Port Douglas
If you have a little bit of insider information you can probably spot a crocodile without a boat. You will see crocodile warning signs next to every piece of water in Port Douglas. If a crocodile is spotted and reported to the council a temporary ” Recent crocodile sighting” sign will also be put out to make us all extra cautious. You’ve got a good chance of seeing the croc in question if you see one of these signs, particularly on a lake. Please stay well away from the water’s edge, metres away, 10m is suggested, crocs can move very, very fast. Ideally stay in your car!
There are resident crocs in the lakes of the Sea Temple and Sheraton golf courses. Golfers see them often. A dog was taken by a crocodile on the Sea Temple course a few weeks ago.
You can, very occasionally see them swimming parallel with the beach or up Dickson’s inlet. They don’t hang around down there for long, they’d much rather be tucked away further inland where the inlet is quieter. I have seen them from The Sugar Wharf, from Four Mile Beach and from the petrol station that backs onto the inlet.
I’ve also seen people swimming in the Inlet. Locals and tourists. Just don’t, ever!
If you have a car, drive over the Mowbray river bridge , if you are heading south, towards Cairns, you will often see crocs up on the mud banks on the right at low tide. Don’t slow down, there have been accidents when crocs have taken drivers by surprise, pull off the road a little south of the bridge and get a better view from the old wooden jetty that you saw on the left of the bridge. I have seen 3 here at once. Winter is usually the better time. Heading north to Daintree Rainforest and you will possibly see more in the worlds oldest rainforest and we’ve seen them from the car ferry there.
The Lady Douglas crocodile spotting river cruise departs from Port Douglas Marina every day.
Good luck, stay safe, hope your crocodile spotting is successful. I love our crocs, I really do!
Part of the April Nature Travel Blog Roundup on Green Global Travel.