Crocodiles and Cassowaries
“Don’t go so close to the edge,” said the bus driver to my husband, as he stood at the edge of the Daintree River waiting for the car ferry. “A croc might get you.”
“Mate, no. No way. Last month there was a nest of them, just a couple of feet just from where you’re standing.”
“They wouldn’t come out of the water, though?”
He laughed. “Sure they would. Drag you down, roll you over. They call it …” he paused for emphasis, “the death roll.”
My husband retreated from the river, all the way back to the car.
“He’s bullshitting me,” he muttered. “I couldn’t see anything.”
As we drove onto the ferry the attendant yelled, “Did you see the croc?” He pointed to the opposite riverbank and we craned our necks to see around the edge of the car. “It’s only a little one. ’bout, oh a metre. Little bastards hard to spot, yeah?”
My husband nodded, but I couldn’t see anything, just a rock.
“How big do they grow?” I asked.
“Largest one shot, that was in North Queensland, not far from here, she would have been, dunno, ’bout 8 metres? They don’t stop growing, see. Older the are, the bigger they get.”
“Do they hunt them?”
“Heck mate, no. They’re protected. Okay, mind how you go.”
We drove off the car ferry, and out into The Daintree, of North Queensland. There’s one road, like a strip along the coast, that passes the oldest rainforest in the world.
We drove past beautiful blue beaches, golden sands and coral reefs. And bright yellow signs: “ACHTUNG Crocodiles. NO SWIMMING!”
Then we passed a sign : “Slow. Cassowaries Crossing.” Cassowarys are rare flightless birds, about as tall as a man, with black plumage and a bright blue neck.
I sneered at the sign – in my experience, the more signage, the less likely an animal is to appear.
Rounded a corner, and there, like they had heard me, were three cassowaries, dad and two babies. They crossed the road in front of us, not at all bothered by the car. As I videoed them, they pecked at berries, then paused and headed into the jungle.
The Daintree is a magical place. Just, don’t go swimming. And watch out for rare birds.