Wyndham

3 June 2002

Wyndham lies 100 km north west of Kununurra on the Cambridge Gulf. We went on a day-trip there from Kununurra. Our first stop was a crocodile farm.  Without planning to, we arrived at feeding time and got a guided tour of the place.

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First we were shown the sheds where the hatchlings were kept.  Then we got a tour of the fully grown inhabitants.  A “salty” is a truly terrifying creature.  The biggest monster on the farm was Jethro who was 19 feet long and weighed in at over 1 tonne.  Other attractions included Bismark, a 70-year-old, and Casper, an albino crocodile.

The sound of a croc’s jaws snapping shut is truly awesome.  One of the staff at the centre pointed at what looked like a shallow pool of muddy water and said “This is why you shouldn’t go swimming in the Ord River.” He then carefully aimed a rock at the centre of the pool, and a huge salty jackknifed through the surface. It was hard to believe that anything so big could accelerate within a second from an invisible and motionless state to a thrashing airborne deathtrap. Although it has taken 80 million years of evolution to fashion the perfect ambush predator, there has only been some fine-tuning required since the Jurassic period. So not all dinosaurs went down the road to extinction: some just hunkered down in Australia.

We also saw some Komodo Dragons.  They are truly ugly, but just as fascinating as the crocs.

Feeding a komodo dragon
Feeding a komodo dragon

After our visit to the croc farm, we went up to the Five Rivers Lookout. The view was almost like looking down from an aeroplane.  The tidal mudflats were eerie and desolate, and I was transfixed by the panoramic view of this weird convergence of silted-up rivers and the Cambridge Gulf, and also by some odd wastelands below which included a disused meatworks that was once a major attraction for the local reptiles.

The drive back to Kununurra was dramatically beautiful due to the orange hues of the setting sun, which lit up the rugged sandstone bluffs. On the way, we stopped at the community club for a beer.  Ruby and Clare were very happy for the chance to shoot some pool.

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