We know they are there, but we don’t often see them – freshwater crocodiles in Ross River, that is.
Freshies, as many locals call them, are smaller than salties. They are generally shy, attacking only when startled into defending themselves; and when they do, their narrow jaws and relatively small teeth can’t do as much damage as a saltie’s heavy head, although the Australian Museum warns us that they can still cause serious injuries.
They can also be hard to spot, even in plain view.
This one was barely a metre from the river bank and less than ten from the bike path, upstream from Aplin’s Weir on the Douglas side of the river.
I only interrupted my ride because I saw a water bird drying its wings on the tip of the dead tree, and only noticed the crocodile after taking photos of the bird.
I walked down the bank to within a couple of metres of the croc but it didn’t even stir, and I had to resist the temptation to toss a stick at it to make sure it was still alive: crocodiles deserve their nap times just as much as we do. I reckoned it to be 1.5 – 1.8 metres long, which in freshie terms is well grown but not outstandingly large.
The bird wasn’t bothered by my movements, either. It was still on its perch after I had finished photographing the crocodile beneath it.