Camping in Australia is considered a relatively safe activity and we do not have the risk of an animal attack like some other countries. There are no bears, lions, or wolves like there is in the US or South Africa. However, if you do travel around Australia, you will visit a lot of places that are home to the potentially dangerous and deadly saltwater crocodile. There are a few basic principles that you should follow on your travels to attempt to keep yourself safe.
How to keep ourself safe
Below are a number of broad safety guidelines and suggestions to follow where possible if you find yourself visiting crocodile territory. The number one rule is simply they have to be respected. Crocodiles have been around for millions of years. They are patient and cunning hunters with incredible survival abilities. They deserve the respect.
Do not wade in shallow water
Wading at the water’s edge is extremely dangerous in crocodilian habitats, and should always be avoided. In some areas (eg. protected areas in Queensland, Australia) it is illegal to do so without good reason. Particularly if there is a big drop-off into deeper water. Remember, you are in the crocodile’s territory and these predators are fastest when they are in the water. In most cases, the water is ofter cloudy and murky and you will never see a crocodile coming. If you do go into the water to throw the cast net, only go in ankle deep and on a shallow mud or sand flat where I can see the water is clear for a distance of 10 or 20 metres.
Be responsible about cleaning fish and discarding scraps
Never clean fish in areas where people are active, such as boat ramps, campsites or the water’s edge. Fish scraps attract crocodilians, and doing this where people are found is irresponsible and dangerous. Crocs will travel a long way on land to get your fish scraps. Cleaning fish is equivalent to coating yourself and the surrounding area with crocodile attractants. Cleaning fish at the water’s edge also distracts your attention. Stay well away from the water when cleaning fish.
Look out for slide marks
Crocodiles aren’t just found in the water, they do make their way onto land as well often to sunbake on the shore. When they re-enter the water, they will leave a distinct slide mak. These slide marks are an obvious sign to let ou know to keep an eye out. If you see a crocodile sliding (area in the mud where crocodile slides into the water), it may mean that’s a big crocodile’s favourite basking spot. It’s a good idea to find a different area.
Only swim in designated areas
This is the most obvious tip in this list. If you are in a crocodilian habitat, you are increasing the risk of being attacked by swimming in any body of water, river, stream or (in the case of saline-tolerant species) around the coast. Some areas are carefully managed to keep crocodilians out, and these are usually marked as such. If you are uncertain whether it’s safe to swim, either check first or assume that it’s not safe.
Keep you Dogs safe.
With the help of education, we can often avoid crocodile attacks by using common sense. If you visit crocodile territory with your dog, make sure you keep a close eye on them and follow the same common-sense rules such as keeping them away from the water. Let’s face the facts, If you let your dog goes for a swim, then there is a good chance that they will become a perfect snack for a hungry crocodile.
Fish with an Obstacle in Front of You
If there’s a stump or log or some saplings between you and the water, it adds an extra layer of difficulty that will hopefully ward off a hungry crocodile.
Camp Well Away from Water
Set up camp more than 50m from the water’s edge. Otherwise, you may find a curious hungry crocodile moving through your camp.
Obey the signs
If there’s a sign that says that there are crocodiles in the water, take heed and avoid going for a swim. Those signs have been put there for a reason.
The simplest rule for staying safe in crocodile habitat is to never enter or approach the water. Of course, this is not always realistic, but you must assume that any body of water in a crocodilian habitat could potentially hold a crocodilian capable of injuring or killing you, regardless of whether the attack is provoked or not.
The single biggest bit of advice I can give is ALWAYS BE MINDFUL. Whether you are throwing the cast net or washing your hand over the side of the boat. Always assume a croc is nearby. Treat them with the respect they deserve.