I started calling Nick when we were about half an hour out from the location he’d given me. I could have used the Sat phone and got him immediately but the call was little more than a courtesy to let him know we were arriving, so several attempts with the CB radio was just as easy.
We’d aired down not long before my first attempt at calling Nick, a job made much easier with two people who knew what they were doing. Most of the sand and dirt where we were headed was probably not going to require the tyres to be aired down because it was hard packed and well travelled, but the possibility of the unknown was reason enough to do it when the sand started to loosen up a bit.
We were about five clicks from the site when Nick finally answered the radio, he apologised profusely saying that he wasn’t able to access his vehicle when he first heard the call come through. Our conversation was brief and when he confirmed the exact location he was waiting we signed off.
When we rocked up at the site there was a Toyota Landcruiser with a roof top tent parked on one side of a decent size camp fire, which had been extinguished. Some of their camping gear was out of sight, indicating that they could have been interrupted packing up and they were sitting inside the vehicle. About ten metres away was Nick’s cop truck and he was sitting on the bullbar almost as if it was a perch.
I pulled up within a few metres of Nick’s truck, wound down my window and said. “You do know they can jump!”
“I’m in my bubble, nothing can penetrate!” he said with a smile.
“Oh so it’s not one of those invisible bubble piercing crocodiles that has been breeding up this end of the Ord?” I asked with a smile on my face.
“Nothing reaches me inside my little bubble, you know that Princess!”
He’s lucky I couldn’t reach him or he might have found out what it’s like to be strangled by a deranged woman for such a comment, but instead I chose to be the bigger person and let the comment slide.
After that we got straight down to business talk and Nick told us that the family had been camping at the sight for the past two days, they’d enjoyed some peace and quiet, done a bit of fishing and were preparing to pack up for the the next leg of their journey when a crocodile suddenly came out of the water. It was a decent size crocodile, at least eight foot, and by their description a saltie. It didn’t attack them it simply wandered up from the water, headed towards their camp where they had not long before finished breakfast, then turned left and headed into the shrub not far from where they were parked.
The family were, as expected, sacred and immediately dived for their vehicle. They sat there watching the shrubs where the croc disappeared for nearly an hour, they did not see it but they were also too frightened to get out, that was when they rang Nick.
Now you might be thinking that the family are a bit silly hiding in their vehicle and calling the police who were at least an hour away, especially given that they hadn’t seen the crocodile for so long, but it’s actually common sense. They hadn’t finished packing their rig for the next leg of their journey, they couldn’t take off without ruining their tent unless it was packed away properly and both those jobs required more than one person to be out of the vehicle.
Of course there is every chance the croc could have just kept walking through the shrub and been long gone when the call was finally made to Nick, but let’s face it how many of you would have taken that chance? Probably not too many of you. It would have been hot in the vehicle, especially if they didn’t run the air conditioner but it was still the safest place.
When Nick arrived he’d spoken to the family on the CB, then when he confirmed they hadn’t seen the crocodile for so long he decided to get out and have a look around. I guess his bubble really was feeling strong!
Without going to far, and definitely not going into the shrub Nick looked around. He found the tracks of the crocodile and confirmed by the marks left in the sand that it was similar in size to what the family had described. He was about fifteen metres from the shrubs when he saw the croc sitting there looking back at him. It was an unusual spot for such a croc, usually they liked to sun themselves in the heat but this guy was in the shade almost as if laying in wait, but laying in wait that long was also unusual.
“Maybe he was waiting for some bacon and eggs!” I said with a smile. Nick laughed then continued his story.
Once he spotted the croc he casually, without sudden movements, walked back to his car, used the radio to tell the family what was happening, then called the ranger. When the ranger wasn’t available he decided the next best thing was to share the experience with myself and Matthew.
It was during his second wander out, no further than he went the first time, when I first called on the radio. The second wandering told him that the crocodile still hadn’t moved, he then returned to his truck, via the other family and a brief update. Why he was sitting on the bullbar when we arrived I will probably never know.
Previous Outback Rescue story here.