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  • Writer's pictureAlison Fenton

Mary River croc country

Updated: May 25, 2020

8 September 2018

People should allow at least a week to explore Kakadu and its surroundings. It is magnificent, magical and diverse, and it is vast.

Driving to Kakadu, we stopped at Window on the Wetland Visitor Center. On a previous trip I'd admired the lush, green wetland. But that was June and now we were in September.

The wetland was rapidly drying out, but it was still beautiful and the exhibits were excellent. We watched a great video on the changing seasons in the top end, which we found really informative.

Tip #1: If you are visiting Kakadu, then this place is a must-do. It's free and you will learn a lot about the Kakadu environment and seasons. The carpark is a long way below the main building, but anyone with little legs or accessibility concerns can be dropped at the front door.

We stopped overnight at Mary River Wilderness Retreat and Caravan Park. This little park was a gem and we could have easily stayed longer. We really appreciated the green grass.

We enjoyed a late afternoon swim and a drink overlooking the pool. The children watched as the cook used tongs to feed a three month old salt water crocodile in an aquarium. Even at that age it jumped out of the water aggressively and grabbed the food.

The next morning we walked along the Mary River. A sign warned us that crocodiles sometimes could be found along the walking trails. Maybe that's why most people hired golf buggies to get around. We were no further than 100 meters from the camping area when we came across huge drag marks across the path.

We were surprised because the creature had come up a very steep embankment, and by the size of the drag marks it would have been a big effort. Fortunately we could also see its return marks further along the path, so we were reasonably confident that it wasn’t going to ambush us.

As we walked, agile wallabies sprinted along in front of us. They were everywhere.

At the end of the main trail, a sign to Big Bronzie’s Bar pointed to the river. We wondered what it was and cautiously crept closer to the water. We soon found out. The biggest live crocodile we’d ever seen lay sunning himself on a sandbar in the middle of the river.

Presumably we’d just got a look at Big Bronzie himself. Unfortunately we spooked him and he slid into the water too quickly for me to get a photo.

We were on alert as we followed the paths through the wooded areas, back to the campsite. We didn't see any more monsters, but we had a few tales to tell.

Tip #2: It is worth doing some of the easy walks along the Mary River . The retreat has a map of the well marked trails. Try to go early before it gets too hot.

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