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Day at Hartley's Crocodile Farm

sunny 24 °C

Monday started with the usual 7:15am alarm ringing, forcing me to wake up, get out of bed and get ready for work. Brian got to have a sleep-in that morning as he didn’t have to go to work that day… long weekend for him! I only had the Thursday prior off work as they are changing my roster around to make my 2 days off to be a permanent Wednesday & Thursday.

Lately we haven’t had as many passengers on the boats as we do in peak season so every employee will be rostered on that day but some will have to “stand-down” (go home) if they aren’t needed. I would have been working 6 days this week so putting my name down for a stand-down wasn’t a problem with me. I was however on Wavedancer (the sailing boat) that day which had 73 passengers on board – 2 people too many to send me home. Kristy the senior on Quickie VIII said that if their boat doesn’t get up to 250 passengers than they will send their ‘stand-down’ employee across to Wavedancer so I can stand-down for them. At 3 minutes to 10am, Bex showed up on Wavedancer and I was able to go home. Yay!

Brian and I had been talking about going out one day and seeing some crocodiles so we decided for the remainder of Monday to go to Hartley’s Crocodile Farm which is about half an hour away from Port Douglas.

We got there at 11am, just in time for a crocodile feeding show. Neither of us have been to Australia Zoo, so I’m not sure how this Croc Farm compares to Steve Irwin’s but we were both impressed with the amount of crocs they have, what their habitats look like and also how close you can get to a crocodile. Pretty much when you walk in the gate you walk straight past a 4.7m crocodile in a gated enclosure that leaves you half a metre away from it. I am fairly certain that if some kid wanted to stick their arm through the fence they could have touched it…and also gotten their arm ripped off!

The croc feeding show was very informative and pretty cool. It was no ‘Steve Irwin jump inside their enclosure and have them chase you for food’ but it was still exciting to see the male crocs fight each other to guard their territory and eat the food intended for them.
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After that we hopped on the river cruise which showed us more crocs in their natural habitat which gave us a better opportunity to take pics of the crocs jumping for food and swimming after the boat.

They have a ‘croc farming tour’ which starts off with a very interesting spiel on how back in the 50s and 60s it was legal to shoot crocodiles and once one couple killed up to 10,000 crocs in this time. Crocodiles are now, however, a protected species and it is therefore illegal to shoot them…but not at Hartley’s.

The tour takes you to the other side of the park where they tell you about how they take crocodiles eggs, incubate the eggs and determine the sex of the crocs they want to breed. Once the eggs have hatched they put the babies into large tanks with no sunlight as crocs grow quicker without the stress of seeing their surroundings. Once they have reached a certain size they are then placed into outdoor pens and fed a lot so they continue to grow bigger. Once they reach the ultimate size, a keeper will go into their enclosure and stun a few of the crocs with a stun-gun and check to see whether their skin is in good condition. Once a croc gets the “ok” on size and skin condition it is then shot and sent off to a company that skins it for leather and also packages the meat. It was really really sad looking at the amount of crocs in the pens and knowing that one day they would be turned into a purse or handbag. We got to touch a little baby croc which was cool, but for the purpose of feeling how soft the skin was which was not so cool.
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It was pretty unbelievable going to a park where on one side they educate you and show you how cool crocs are and what great environments they have these animals living in, to then walk to the other side where they show you how they breed these animals to be shot and sold for their skin and meat. Did I mention that you can also buy crocodile meat to have in your burger at the restaurant? One family turned up to a crocodile show actually eating crocodile meat!

We left the ‘farming tour’ early to go and see the snake show and then the Croc attack show. The guy in the croc attack show is mad! He’s a south African guy who is very educational of course, but definitely not scared to hand feed a 4.3m croc and splash about in the water with it. He showed us how easy it is for a croc to disguise itself in the water and then attack its prey so quickly. It was very cool to watch!
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After the show Brian and I left the park and headed to Cairns (another half hour away) to go and see ‘Bourne Ultimatum.’ It was a great movie and a great way to end the day that we usually would have spent at work!

Posted by Jess_F 23:15 Archived in Australia

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