There is a big story at the moment in the Northern Territory. Two humpback whales have somehow got lost on their annual migration north, and are now 20kms up the East Alligator River. Such a thing has never happened before. The river is full of crocodiles, and if the whales get stranded on a sandbar, the crocodiles won’t hold back. So a team of whale experts is trying to work out how to turn the whales around and get them back to the ocean.
We haven’t been to the East Alligator River, but in 2005 we did take a canoe out on another of the NT’s rivers, the Katherine. Not surprisingly we didn’t see any whales. We did see some little freshwater crocodiles, but they don’t bother people unless people bother them. The crocodiles to watch out for are the saltwater variety, the salties, and they, we were told, don’t get this far up the river.
Well, we had a magical day, had a beautiful swim in the river and returned to camp tired but happy.
A few days later, when we had moved on, we heard a report that the Katherine Gorge was closed because a huge salty had been spotted in the river. It must have come up river earlier in the year when there were flood waters, and it was now too big to get back to the sea. So it was definitely there when we were enjoying our swim…