The Northern Territory's iconic crocodile has outlived dinosaurs and environmental threats to flourish in the Top End. Croc numbers in the wild now top 100,000.
The best known and most revered of the species is the mighty saltwater (estuarine) crocodile, and for good reason – it is the largest of all living reptiles. These mighty hunters make for spectacular viewing (from the safety of a boat), growing up to six metres in length and weighing in at more than 1000 kilograms.
Freshwater crocodiles roam the inland rivers and lagoons and are commonly found in the Katherine and Victoria rivers and the Mataranka area. This species have smaller jaws than the 'salties' and are less likely to be harmful to humans – though caution is always advised.
The evening boat tour along the lower Katherine River is a must for those wanting to see crocodiles up close. The tour guide will light a fire on the riverbank and lure the submerged reptiles in for fantastic photograph opportunities.
Saltwater crocodiles often defy their name and travel inland to fresh water habitats. They are plentiful in the rivers, creeks and billabongs of the Gregory National Park, so while the chances of sightings are high it is advisable not to swim in the area.
If you don't have time for a boat tour there are a number of crocodile farms and research facilities worth visiting. Catch all the action at feeding time, watch their underwater activities, or 'swim' with a saltwater croc in a special protective cage.
Crocodiles play a significant role in Aboriginal culture and appear regularly in traditional stories, songs and art. The Gumatj people of the northeast are closely linked to the origins of the crocodile in Aboriginal Dreaming and refer to the saltwater croc as 'Baru'.