A trip to Cape Tribulation wouldn’t be complete without cruising around its mangroves and inlets on a crocodile tour in search of one of the planet’s most amazing creatures.
Cape Tribulation Wilderness Cruises is the only licensed crocodile cruise tour operating in the Cape Tribulation section of the Daintree National Park.
Ernie has been running these tours for over 23 years and he knows the area like the back of his hand.
He runs three croc cruises a day and is never short of customers keen to see a crocodile in the wild.
We met Ernie near the croc cruise sign on the side of the road near Thornton’s Beach and then followed a little trail through the mangroves to the boat.
While it seats 30 people, we only had about 20 people on our cruise on the day we went.
[headline size=”small” align=”left”]crocodile spotting[/headline]
Once everyone had climbed aboard we set off down Cooper Creek in search of saltwater crocodiles, which inhabit the estuaries of Far North Queensland.
Ernie told us to look closely at the waterline just under the mangroves lining the banks of the river as the crocodiles like the shade of the mangroves.
It wasn’t long before we saw our first croc, a three metre female half bathed in mud and resting in the entrance of a small gully in the mangroves. Ernie had spotted her on an earlier cruise that day and lucky for us she was still there.
To be honest, most of us didn’t notice her until Ernie pointed her out, which is one reason why it’s always good to go wildlife spotting with a guide. Ernie has been doing this for 23 years so I guess he knows what he’s looking for.
The next croc we saw was a baby one and, I’ll be honest, it took me at least five minutes before I could actually see the crocodile amongst the mangroves. And I wasn’t the only one! Some tourists needed a lot of help to see it.
It was a tiny baby crocodile way up on a sandbank behind some mangroves.
We were all amazed that Ernie had spotted it at all because it was so small.
Even our third and final croc spot was a small one. It looked like a log camouflaged in mud and would easily be missed by an untrained eye. It was probably about a year old.
This proved to us how careful you need to be in areas populated by crocodiles because they are very difficult to spot.
[headline size=”small” align=”left”]other mangrove wildlife[/headline]
The Daintree Rainforest is home to a whole variety of animals and birdlife so we didn’t only see crocodiles on our cruise.
The inlets are brimming with wildlife and we were lucky to spot a beach curlew, a beautiful blue kingfisher and many more birds. And depending on the time of year you do Ernie’s cruise, sometimes you can see hundreds of white-lipped treefrogs during breeding season.
[headline size=”small” align=”left”]mangroves important part of the ecosystem[/headline]
Cruising down Cooper Creek you quickly notice that all the banks of the inlets are lined with mangroves, some more exposed than others depending on the tide and water level.
Ernie explained that the mangroves are vital part of our eco-system. They provide much-needed protection for the rainforest, as well as being a breeding nursery for an enormous variety of wildlife.
Crocodiles, box jellyfish, prawns, barramundi, oysters, frogs, snakes and birds are just some of the animals that breed in the mangroves, so they really are important in the lifecycle of our wildlife.
[headline size=”small” align=”left”]thumbs up[/headline]
We found Ernie’s tour really enjoyable and very reasonably priced, especially if you are travelling as a family or group. Definitely recommended if you’re spending time in Cape Trib.
[headline size=”small” align=”left”]travel nq fast facts:[/headline]
- Cape Tribulation Wilderness Cruises are the only croc cruise operator on the north side of the Daintree River
- They run three tours a day at 10.30am, 11.30am and 2pm
- These Cape Tribulation Crocodile Tours depart from Thornton’s Beach, about half an hour’s drive over the Daintree Ferry crossing
- For more information go to www.capetribcruises.com