Darwin and Jumping Crocodiles

There a couple pictures on FaceBook; I won’t try to get them in here. Our guide Billy was a wealth of information about the Outback in general and crocodiles in particular (they co-existed with dinosaurs for 40,000,000 years; they’ve co-existed with humans for about 60,000 years, with Europeans about 300 years, and are now endangered). The Outback we saw was marshy (you’ve heard of a ‘billabong’) with lots of mango groves and black-necked cranes.

Crocs can easily live 100 years in the wild and the males might reach 10 meters long in that time. The two males we saw up close were 50 or 60 years old and about half that size. They are very territorial, depend far more on sound and pressure in the water than vision, and have brains about the size of a walnut. But the males have jaws that can crush a water buffalo. When they see something that looks good to eat, they can jump almost their entire body length out of the water.

Darwin is an interesting smallish town that seems on the up-swing. They have had a number of cyclones that did a lot damage (and killed a lot of people) before they had building codes. They don’t really know how many people because until the mid-twentieth century, the Aborigines weren’t counted as people and the area has one of highest percentages of Aborigines in the country. (At least in the US, we counted slaves as 3/5 of a person.)

In 1941, the town was the location of one largest fuel and ammunition depots for the US Navy in the Pacific. In February of 1942 (10 weeks after Pearl Harbor), Darwin was bombed by the Japanese and the town practically leveled. There were several ships sunk and 247 people officially killed, although again Aborigines didn’t count. The city was bombed several more times during the war; there are very few buildings older than 70 years. At least they are built to withstand cyclones now.

I don’t remember any of this from our history books.

Erratum: I stated earlier that we had rounded the very northern tip of Australia. The locals call this the ‘Top End’, which seems some sort of acknowledgment that the world has a top and bottom. That point is also the line between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, if we ignore the Coral Sea, the Arafura Sea, the Timor Sea and probably the Strait of something. I think I referenced instead the Tasman Sea, which is southeast near Tasmania, not on the Top End.

2 thoughts on “Darwin and Jumping Crocodiles

    1. There should be plenty of opportunities in the vicinity. The Reef and the northeast coast in general certainly took its toll on ships. Our port lecturer seemed to think his job was to scare us out of going in the water. With crocodiles, box jelly fish, blue ring octopus, and some of the most dangerous snakes and lizards in the world; sharks barely made his radar. Today we go some place safe to see the Komodo Dragons.

      Liked by 1 person

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