What do you get when you cross a crocodile with a rooster? A croc-a-doodle-doo! Ha! As a former Fox and Friends anchor known for cheeky travel adventures and now living in Australia, this joke resonates with me!
As a North Carolina girl who moved to the Land Down Under for love, I have been trying to get to know my husband’s country and culture – sharing my adventures on AnnaKooiman.com.
We Americans have our stereotypes of what life is like in Oz. And many of these stereotypes are centered around their indigenous wildlife. Whether we think of Australia’s sweet animals that we read about in our children’s books or the creatures we see on Discovery and Nat Geo during their specials about the world’s deadliest animals – for us, these animals are synonymous with Australia.
Sharks! Kangaroos! Koalas! Crocodiles! (Remember the line from Crocodile Dundee? “That’s not a knife. This is a knife!” Ha!) We are made to think these animals are just lurking beneath every wave at the beach, or running around neighborhoods like squirrels in the USA. But the truth is, it all depends on where you go. And if you live within a city like Sydney, as I do, you may have to go to an aquarium, zoo or wildlife park.
There is a well-known wildlife park called Hartley's Crocodile Adventures outside of Cairns, so while I was in Tropical Queensland exploring the Great Barrier Reef, I knew I needed to make a long pitstop.
Why did I want to go see scary crocodiles? Because number 1, Crocs are so totally Aussie. And number 2, Loads of Aussies have been telling me this is the best place to experience crazy crocs... up close and personal. Literally riding in a boat just feet from their gigantic teeth!
According to their website, "Hartley’s Lagoon is at the front rank of this trend. Nowhere else is it possible for visitors to obtain such an intimate insight into the biology and behavior of crocodiles. Nineteen crocs ranging in size from 2.5m to 5m (about 8 ft. to 16 ft.) cruise the waters, laze on the bank or build their nests, interacting with each other just as they would in the wild as well as keeping all the other residents of the lagoon on their toes!"
From crocodile shows to crocodile boat rides in a lagoon full of the sharp toothed beasts... this wildlife park did not disappoint. The highlight was riding in a small boat (it did have cages on the side) just a couple of feet away from the mammoth creatures! Check out the YouTube video I shot to see what I mean. It’s pretty wild! Of course you won't catch me in this post's pictures or videos cuddling with any crocs... you will see me cuddling with sweet koalas and feeding the world's deadliest bird, the cassowary.
Cuddling with koalas is definitely my fondest memory from this Aussie adventure. However, the better story to tell is that I did channel my inner Mick Dundee and tamed a crazy croc – all without a knife of any size!
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