• Vicki Sweedman

Crocodile Run

I visited a crocodile farm in north Queensland while Steve Irwin was filming. There were 2 murky lakes with a dirt roadway cutting between them. Steve was halfway along the roadway filming one way. My party, including my 13-year-old son, 60-year-old mother, and 65-year-old father, greeted them, then walked up a narrow spike of wet mud that jutted off the track into the other lake.

The water on both sides of this spit was bubbling with crocodiles twirling in circles. Charlie, the manager of this incredible place, carried an eight-foot stick he tapped on the edge of the water. From out of the depths raised from unihemisphericaly sleeping, came Sam, 4.9 metres in length. He slid through the weed, to place his head high on the bank for Charlie to scratch. This guy was the granddaddy of the pond. He didn’t have to mate now. He would wait. Charlie gave him a chicken head from a bag in his pocket. It was gone in an instant. We were listening intently about the danger of these primeval beasts when Charlie’s partner Tom, pointed.

‘Watch this one boss.’ There was a pause for a few seconds, then Charlie yelled,

“Run.’

Another crocodile swam in quickly and struck at us. Instinctively we grabbed out pulling each other back. A mad huddle of frightened humans. Charlie urged us to go. I had my son’s arm. He tripped running around the first crocs head. Still attached to him I pulled him as I ran. The croc tried jumping at us again. He dove back into the water swimming along the edge. Mud flew into the air and over us as we ran. I stumbled. I grabbed for mum who was slipping in the mud. My friend Les, lost his hat hit by a wad of mud. I tried to catch it but fumbled, then into someone else’s hands then knocked by a clump of falling mud, then snatched up off the earth by Tom. Hands and arms were flying everywhere. It was difficult running on the uneven surface. I twisted an ankle but kept running. Meanwhile the second croc was still tailing-it along the bank after us. Charlie and Tom, who held dads’ arm, where encouraging us saying,

‘Go, go, go,’ which we were certainly trying to do.

The croc attempted the bank several times and then back in to continue after us. Dad stumbled and lost a shoe. Someone picked it up. Our spit grew wider. We were nearly back at the dirt road. I was limping, dads sock was gone. We knew that croc two could not reach us. I saw Steve was trying to turn the crew around waving his arms and shouting. Then with astonishment he put his hands to his head. We sighed and swore and panted. They laughed.

‘That was the funniest thing I have ever seen,’ said the camera man. ‘Go back and do it again. We missed it.’

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