Blog Day 139 Thurs 22nd September 2011
So our first night's sleep in the camper went surprisingly well. We awake around 7.30ish thanks to the sunlight seeping through the curtains & the heat. As soon as the sun gets on the van it becomes an oven! A quick freshen up & a bowl of cornflakes later and we are packed up, ready to go. Last night we pulled up and there was no one around to take any money from us. This morning there is someone in the office however the front gate is open and calling to us. Nothing better than a quick getaway drive to start the day! We make a dash for the front gate and drive straight past the office, looking as casual and low key as possible. Easier said than done when you're driving a campervan that's only a shade lighter than ' w*** me their getting away' orange!
Our mission for today is to head back to Hartley's Crocodile Farm & spend the day there. The leaflet advertises that they have the best crocodile attack show in Australia. Not sure that would have been the case if Steve Irwin was still alive and kicking. At the ticket desk Dan flashes our Nomads cards (a little perk that Renee hooked us up with) and gets a few dollars off the admission price. As this is taking place Trish is mesmerised with an owl sitting in a tree next to reception desk. It's a huge brown ball of feathers that doesn't look real, until it ruffles its feathers and scares the crap out of Trish.
On entering the park we are handed a map which has all the live show times on it. Koala feeding, croc feeding, boat trips, wallaby feeding, snake show and croc attack show. The day is very well planned out so that we are always moving and only really stop for lunch.
First up is koala feeding, although it doesn't look like the koalas are too fussed about being fed. There are four of them all sat on a couple of display trees, fast asleep. A few of them are sitting in such a way that they look almost human. A couple of tall office style fans are blowing on them to keep them comfortable in the heat. We are told that they sleep for around 22 hours a day which, apart from looking really cute, make these animals completely pointless. One of the keepers wakes one of the koalas up from its state of rest for us to pat. It doesn't look bothered though and after a few strokes of its bum the little fuzz ball falls straight back to sleep again.
Next up is the croc feeding. This should be a little more exciting! We make our way round to a swamp area where there are no less than 20 saltwater crocodiles. Big ones and huge ones! The crocs are defiantly more awake than the koalas and it's really impressive watching these beasts being fed. At 11.45 we are booked onto a boat tour around the park. 2 boats pull out onto the river that again holds a scary amount of saltwater crocs. The oldest croc in the park currently floats around in the river. Nigel is a 15 ft salty that has arthritis in most of his joints, is blind in one eye and no teeth, however we are told that he is still more than capable of killing us if he got the chance. That would make one embarrassing gravestone 'Here lies Joe Bloggs, killed 22-09-11 by a crippled, blind and toothless crocodile named Nigel!'
As we float around the river our guide puts a piece of meat on a long stick to demonstrate just how high the crocs can get themselves up out of the water. We are treated to a real show as the crocs use their huge tails to launch themselves up and out of the water giving us some fantastic photos.
Back on dry land its lunch time. Top of the menu is …………. You've guessed it…………… salt and pepper crocodile skewers! One of those and a huge burger later and we are both stuffed! The crocodile looked like chicken but tasted a lot like pork. It was really nice and had there have been croc steak on the menu we would have been all over it.
The snake show was a little bit of a let-down. The pythons were left in their enclosures and a couple of smaller, but extremely venomous snakes were displayed. After this we had about an hour to kill before the croc attack show, so we made our way over to hand feed some wallabies. Like kangaroos but smaller the wallabies were so placid and didn't mind all the people being around them. They couldn't get enough of the sweet corn we were feeding them and again we managed to get some good photos.
After a quick ice cream we are back at the theatre area for the show we have been waiting for, The Croc Attack Show! Hagrid the crocodile is floating lazily in the murky water in full view. As the keeper walks into the arena Hagrid completely vanishes from sight, and a slight tension fills the air. The keeper doesn't seem in the slightest bit bothered and opens the show with the best possible opening line, 'who wants to aggravate a crocodile?!?' This gets a cheer and he explains that first things first, his brand new safety boots need to come off as they aren't going to do a thing, other than keep his feet warm, if Hagrid gets hold of his foot. This guy is now standing barefoot in water above his ankles not more than a few maters away from a 12ft 'invisible' crocodile. Needless to say the tension could be cut with a knife! He splashes the water a few times with his feet and nothing happens then he bends down and scoops up a handful of water tossing it about 5 feet in front of him. This is when Hagrid launches himself out of the water with scary speed, mouth open and teeth on show. The keeper, who has been doing this job for 20 years, leaps out of the water and behind a 4ft fence. Even though he's been doing this for such a long time we were sure we could hear his bum squeak! Especially when Hagrid's jaws snap shut. 3000 pounds of pressure sounds like a gunshot going off. Our bums had a little squeak too!
The show was great and it was amazing just how close the keepers got to the croc, they defiantly did a good job aggravating it.
The show is the last thing on the agenda at the park, so we jump the van and make our way back to Nomads. It's been a great day and we would defiantly recommend Hartley's Crocodile farm to anyone who is going to Cairns.
When we get back we have a nice surprise as Renee has booked us into a double en suite room with a TV, kettle and a fridge. Sweet!