After a slow start to the day, filled with coffee and sleeping in and catching up on news, we headed to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures. So you know what this blog post will be full of, don’t you – photos of crocodiles!
Hartley’s is a little over half an hour drive north of Cairns, along the beautiful Captain Cook Highway once again. My brother was driving this time, so I was really able to take in those lovely views. And have I mentioned the weather up here yet? It’s just lovely – perfect weather for living, really. Summer clothes during the day but not terribly hot, yet hot enough to swim (or get sunburnt). Summer pyjamas for night time with a sheet and one light blanket. At the most. The breeze is lovely, the air is full of noises from birds and insects, and overall it’s delightful. Last night I listened to the sound of curlews in chorus. It’s so distinctive! Unfortunately for some reason the neighbours think that it’s a good idea to have turkeys and geese as pets in a residential neighbourhood, so I’ve been listening to the honking of the geese in the middle of the night too. Not as lovely as the curlews.
So, to Hartley’s! Anyone who has been up to FNQ on holiday knows that the cost of attractions and activities really adds up, especially for a family. Hartley’s is an attraction that I think is excellent value (and your entry price includes return visits for three days). It’s a working crocodile farm, that raises saltwater crocodiles mostly for their skins but also for their meat. We took a short tour of the farming area and saw where the crocodiles are grown. They’re “harvested” at about 3 years of age. Wild crocodiles are a protected species. I’ve found a couple of articles on crocodile farming here, here, here and here (that one from Choose Cruelty Free). They all provide interesting perspectives on crocodile farming.
From the farm tour we moved to a snake show. Christy gave an extremely informative talk about venomous land snakes and non-venomous land snakes, showing us a couple of examples of each. After some encouragement both Clare and Stella made the decision to touch the carpet python. Stella described it as dry and bumpy. She was pretty pleased with herself!
The next event was probably the highlight of our visit. Christy was joined by another staff member, Matt, and they proceeded to give us an extremely interesting and entertaining talk and demonstration about crocodiles and their habits.
Crocodiles freak me out. Those living dinosaurs – they really are such a brilliant example of natural selection and adaptation for their environment. They are incredibly strong and powerful, and move extremely quickly in the water! Packed with muscle and strength, they are very successful opportunistic hunters. There are croc warning signs in FNQ for a reason – they can and do kill people as well as whatever animals stray into their path. Just watching Matt in the enclosure with Hagrid the crocodile make me feel extremely nervous.
From the croc show we moved on to the boat trip on the lagoon. At the moment the lagoon is covered in brilliant green duckweed. There are 25 crocodiles in this area, and we saw a number of them from the boat. Once again we had a terrific tour leader who answered questions and pointed out other things of interest, such as the bird life in the area.
Cassowaries were up next. They’re yet another dangerous Australian creature! After listening to a talk about the birds the girls were able to hand feed one through a fence. The coloured wattles of the cassowaries are quite spectacular. But those feet have sharp spurs and they are known to be highly territorial and often aggressive.
Finally, it was koala feeding time! There were three koalas munching vigorously on eucalyptus leaves. Once again we were treated to a highly informative talk and question and answer session about them, following by the opportunity to give them a pat. Yes, they are as soft as they look – but like many Australian mammals, they also have sharp claws and teeth so it’s always a good idea to remain wary!
I’ve visited Hartley’s a few times over the years now, but it’s always great to experience these attractions through the fresh eyes of my daughters.