The water's edge is one of the most dangerous places to relax when you are in crocodile country.
That's the message that came through loud and clear as I toured Koorana Crocodile Farm in Coowonga, between the city of Rockhampton and the coastal centre of Yeppoon. Established as a the first commercial crocodile farm in Queensland in 1981 by John and Lillian Lever, the farm has grown into a family business with son Adam conducting the daily tours and a restaurant offering crocodile steaks, pies and more for lunch.
It's no surprise the dry dirt track that meandered through some pretty desolate country to the farm gate was callled Savages Road. What was surprising was the affection between tour guide Adam and the crocodiles.
Adam talked about the crocs as if they were old friends. They all had nick names and there was one he had trained to feed from his hand. To my eye it looked as though he was going to be eaten alive but Adam was very relaxed.
This is a crocodile farm, not a sanctuary, and has been providing a live problem capture service for Queensland for 20 years. The farm has grown from four crocodiles in the early 1980s to around 3000 today.
Adam's stories about where they have found crocodiles are a little hair raising. If you thought crocodiles were only found in salt water, think again.
The tour involves walking around the various lakes and pens to view the crocodiles. At first it seems as though there's not a croc anywhere, but movement at the water's edge and a few chicken pieces thrown in the right direction and they are snapping around making me very glad the fences are quite high.
Visitors can take personal revenge or just expand their taste buds by eating crocodile as well. The menu includes crocodile steak, kebabs, sate, pie and burger. There's even crocodile laksa! I tried the crocodile pie which had a creamy leek sauce around the croc meat. It was an experience but the crocs are safe from my stomach.
The restaurant is licensed so you can have a drink before or after the tour to steady your nerves if necessary.
Tours are conducted twice a day(10.30am and 2pm) and it's well worth arriving in time to do one. The admission price of $28 for an adult includes a tour anyhow.
From September to November you may see crocodiles mating. Between November to January they are busy nest building and laying eggs while the baby crocs hatch from March to April.
At the end of the tour there's the chance to hold a baby crocodile. It's jaws are taped so there's no biting problem but you have to hold it at stomach level as it can head but you if higher.
Best tip: Where better to try crocodile meat than at a crocodile farm?
Bottom line: Meals average around $17. Entry and a tour cost $28 per adult.
Disclaimer: Ed+bK travelled courtesy of Tourism Queensland.