Port Douglas is home to a large population of crocodiles. Here are five top places to spot them.
Not all of the residents in Tropical North Queensland are friendly and laid-back.
Embark on an organised tour of the mangroves and creeks and it’s highly likely that you will see a crocodile in the wild, which is regarded as one of the No. 1 things to do while visiting Port Douglas. There are two species of the large predatory semi-aquatic reptile in Tropical North Queensland – the saltwater (or estuarine) crocodile and the freshwater crocodile. The easiest way to tell the two species apart is their size: saltwater crocodiles are much larger (and more aggressive) than their freshwater cousins. Here are five top places to spot a crocodile around Port Douglas.
Croc Arena: Swim with Salties
Swimming with whales and dolphins are items on many a traveller’s bucket list. But the concept of swimming with saltwater crocodiles? That’s a new kind of terror. There are signs all over Tropical North Queensland warning of the perils of swimming with these apex predators. But the Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas has created a new experience that is immersive in the truest sense of the word.
Book a Couple Swim and descend into the 180-degree clear underwater viewing area where you can #BeTheCrocBait and get up close to Big Al, Digger and Ton and watch them from the perspective of their prospective prey. If you don’t want to face your fears and enter the croc-infested pool, you can watch the four-metre-long toothy crocodiles being fed from the safety and comfort of the purpose-built CrocArena.
Mowbray River Pedestrian Bridge
The Mowbray River crocodile viewing platform has become a destination for day-trippers keen on spotting crocodiles in the wild. The $5.7 million pedestrian bridge is located at the Mowbray North section of the Wangetti Trail, which features a 2.25-kilometre mangrove experience boardwalk and five-kilometre walking trail to Four Mile Beach.
The dedicated crocodile viewing platform is a popular spot to fish and locals love showing off their crocodile-spotting prowess to visitors. While wild encounters with crocodiles are considered dangerous – there are warning signs near to every body of water near Port Douglas – it’s safe to stand on this purpose-built platform away from the water’s edge while looking for the resident croc ‘Mow’.
Lady Douglas River Cruise
Join the Lady Douglas on a calm-water cruise up Dickson’s Inlet where you are likely to see crocodiles sunbaking on the shore. The Lady Douglas River Cruise is a family-run business owned by Lucas and Kate Agrums, who bought the business in 2014. The boat plows its way up the inlet from the iconic Sugar Wharf in Port Douglas several times a day until it reaches a section of the river called ‘three-ways’ where laconic skipper Lucas can choose between the arm that heads to a local prawn farm, the arm that stretches towards the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort Port Douglas and the arm that meanders deep into the mangrove forest.
In between spotting fearsome crocodiles, with their distinctive long jaw, long tail and leathery textured skin, passengers are treated to a complimentary drink and snack box filled with local produce.
Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures
You get to play “Is it a log? Or is it a croc?” while navigating around the man-made lagoon at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures. The reptiles use submersion and stealth to move through the river systems and if you listen and learn from your charismatic guide, who has a practised eye, you will be able to spot the V-shaped wake rippling after the man-eating predators as they power through the muddy creek.
Watch in awe as your guide affixes a chicken to the end of a four-metre long pole and dangles it within striking distance of a beast named Bandit who propels out of the water, yanks it from the pole and returns to the water with a violent splash. The adventure park is located halfway between Cairns and Port Douglas on Djabugay Country and is surrounded by World Heritage-listed national park. In addition to cruising up Hartley’s Lagoon in search of saltwater crocodiles, visitors can enjoy the land-based Crocodile Attack show.
Crocodile Cruise River Tour
The Solar Whisper is the only zero-emission boat on the Daintree River (Julaymba), which means you can approach the crocodiles in the same sly manner in which they might approach you. Get close to the crocodiles on a two-hour eco crocodile- and wildlife-spotting tour onboard an electric boat that quietly glides up to the crocs without scaring them or hurting their habitat.
The owner, David White, runs a Days of the Daintree Facebook page, that brings to life these prehistoric creatures which he tracks using his unique ‘Croc Cam’. While the Solar Whisper has a 99 per cent success rate for spotting huge saltwater crocodiles – such as Big Nick and Scarface – your experienced interpretative guide will also point out birds, snakes, green tree frogs, mud crabs and fish.
For more travel tips and itineraries read our Ultimate guide to Port Douglas holidays.