Crocodiles at Lake Moondarra

14712475_10153706560932757_6242102373686916556_oIt’s the nature of our job in the news industry that means working weekends are a regular fact of life. But though my working hours are not social I do have a pact with myself to try and keep Sunday afternoon sacrosanct and take one of the many wonderful bush walking opportunities we have in the North West.

Of late I have been trying out many trails around Lake Moondarra and the area never ceases to lift my spirits.

Lake Moondarra is an artificial lake on the Leichhardt River, 16 km downstream from Mount Isa, providing water to the city and the nearby mines.

The dam was built in 1956 and in 1961 it became Lake Moondarra, from the Kalkadoon name meaning “plenty of rain also thunder”.

There are some great views above the lake, if you’re willing to scramble through occasional rough country, and there is nothing better than finding a new track along one of the lake’s many nooks and crannies. The birdlife is wonderful to watch and I never cease to achieve a feeling of tranquility within minutes of walking there.

Until now, that is.

In last Saturday’s paper we showed the photo of a large crocodile seen sunning itself on the banks of the lake. I always knew there were crocodiles at Moondarra but in the past the thought of them never bothered me. I knew them to be freshwater crocs (Crocodylus johnstoni) , not the fearsome saltwater maneaters (Crocodylus porosus) seen further north. But this photo we published on Saturday put the wind up me.

This croc was over 2m metres long and although an expert told us it was indeed a freshie and not a more dangerous saltie, it still looking intimidating to me.

To my untrained eyes the distinguishing mark of nobbly necks made little difference, all I could see was a large monster with eyes trained away from the water, apparently searching for careless newspaper editors distracted by staring at pelicans it could drag into the water and feast on for a large meal (though like clowns, I suspect I taste funny).

An expert we consulted told us they were harmless if left alone, but added a chilling rider: “If approached, there is a risk of been bitten like entering a yard with a dog.”

Though these crocs were likely on the far shore of the Lake I noticed myself keeping a healthy distance from the shoreline on Sunday. I was tempted to climb a hill to get further away but got myself in knots worrying about snake season. Perhaps I should stay home and read a book.

Nah, I’ll get over it, Lake Moondarra remains an enchanting place.

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