A Journey down the East Alligator River to Arnhem Land

There are no alligators in this river- the early explorers got it wrong, as they so often did! There are plenty of crocodiles though.

When I visited the river was full of them;mouths open in that crocodile smile, ready to catch a fish or gliding ever so gently into the river with only a few bubbles to denote their existence.

On this small group tour, one person enthusiastically described a “jumping” crocodile tour he’d done recently. Like me, our tour guide stated that he was not a fan of this experience. It reminds me of our medieval barbarity, when we found fun in dancing bears, performing seals oh yes and beheadings! I hope humanity has evolved since then.

The same tourist asked had there been an increase in crocodile numbers, a fearful implication that the crocs might be taking over…oh no!

Then our guide explained.

“They’ve been here for 140 million years and in the 70’s and 80’s were almost hunted to extinction. They became fearful of humans and hid from us. Now the younger generations have lost that collective fear…”

His fear assuaged, the tourist leaned back in his sear; he had nothing to worry about with the crocs unless he took a swim,..

On the journey to Arnhem land our Indigenous captain told stories of the spirits of the land, using the collective term “Balander” to describe all white people. Its a curious word derived from “Hollander” a word his ancestors used for the Dutch explorers who named the country around there, their country, “Arhnem Land.”

On a stop on our journey, we were treated to a display of spear throwing. Such skill and power worthy of an Olympic Javelin thrower! We had entered another country where such skills were essential to the tribes’ survival.

The following pictures were taken with permission

We returned to the boat and on our journey back , no longer surprised at the amount of croc activity in the mis named river of the North.

4 thoughts on “A Journey down the East Alligator River to Arnhem Land

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