A Cape York man spent seven nights up a tree in a crocodile-infested swamp, bleeding and with little food — and lived to tell the tale.
David George, the father-of-one and co-manager of a cattle station, told his remarkable tale of survival and rescue by chopper last week in rugged bushland near Coen, in the state's remote far north.
"Every night I was stalked by two crocs who would sit at the bottom of the tree staring up at me," George told the press this week.
"All I could see was two sets of red eyes below me and all night I had to listen to a big bull croc bellowing a bit further out.
"I'd yell out at them, 'I'm not falling out of this tree for you bastards'."
Dazed and bleeding after a tumble from his horse, George soon found he had strayed into the heart of a croc swamp.
"I had to get off the horse and fall on the long 8ft-high swamp grass to clear a path, when I fell straight into a crocodile nest," he said.
"That spooked me. There were some monstrous tracks and the big ones are never far from the nest.
"I couldn't go back, it was too far and too dangerous, so I headed to the nearest high ground and stayed there, hoping someone would come and find me before the crocs did."
He tried everything over the next few days to attract the attention of airborne search teams, including flashing sunlight off his tobacco tin, waving his shirt on a stick and spreading toilet paper in the tree branches.
"The scrub was that thick they could not see me through the foliage. It was very frustrating – they flew within 20 feet of me at one stage," he said.
Three days into his ordeal and his food supply of two meat sandwiches was gone.
"If I hadn't seen the crocs circling me, and if I hadn't fallen into the croc nest, I would have made a push for it. But I knew the safest thing was for me to sit tight and wait."
On the eighth day of his ordeal, the missing cattleman was found after a search involving the Australian Army, police, Aboriginal trackers and search teams from several nearby areas.
"They gave me a Cherry Ripe chocolate bar after they winched me up to the chopper — it was like a gourmet meal," he said