Saltwater crocodiles in Katherine Gorge

by Allison

Freshwater Crocodile At Katherine Gorge

Freshwater Crocodile At Katherine Gorge

I am concerned about saltwater crocodiles in Katherine Gorge as I am doing the overnight canoe trip next week (Nov 15). Have there been any found in the Katherine Gorge?

I look forward to your reply.

Response To: Are There Saltwater Crocodiles In Katherine Gorge?

Hi Allison,

Nice time of the year for a canoe trip in Katherine Gorge. I'd rather be in the water there myself right now...

I would not worry for a second about saltwater crocodiles when canoeing in Katherine Gorge.

There are saltwater crocodiles in the Katherine River, further downstream. There is even a tourism company that offers canoe trips on the river (something I still haven't done but would love to) and they regularly see saltwater crocodiles on the banks there.

But the Katherine Gorge is a "no-go" zone for saltwater crocodiles. It is not a suitable habitat to start with, and on top of that it is closely monitored at all times. There are traps located downstream from the gorge entrance, the direction where any crocodiles would be coming from.

The wet season is the time when young male crocodiles move around and move upstream, looking for a new place to live, since every grown male croc needs its own territory.

Katherine Gorge is closed to swimmers and canoeists during the wet season. Before it reopens the rangers thoroughly search the area for a few weeks. If they find a croc they relocate it. (This happened in 2006 and 1999. Both crocs were young males.)

The authorities will make very sure there aren't any saltwater crocodiles before Katherine Gorge is opened to swimmers. (There's way too much money at stake to risk anything...)

In October 2005 two canoeists claimed they had seen a saltwater crocodile. What followed was the most intensive crocodile surveying done in the park since it became jointly managed in 1989. No crocodile. The rangers could never confirm the sighting.

Seeing that the Katherine Gorge supports a large population of freshwater crocodiles, and considering how much the average tourist knows about crocodiles, I doubt what they saw was a salty...

There are three large male freshwater crocodiles living in the lower gorges. They are around three metres long. I bet their size alone is enough to convince most people that they must be salties :-).

Any confirmed sightings in the Katherine River occurred during or just after a big wet season, in the bottom area, as in boat ramp and further downstream, and not in the gorge. I'm not aware of any sightings that occurred ever in areas further upstream, and this is where you will be canoeing.

As I already said, I wouldn't worry for a second.

Worry about the heat and the sun! That's a lot more dangerous. I remember my October trip. I spent that much time in and out and in and out of the water that it was impossible to keep sunscreen on the skin for long. And since I was also wet all the time (the only way to stay cool) I got wickedly sunburnt...

Hope you'll have a great trip!

General info:
Katherine Gorge
Saltwater Crocodiles

Photo by Vaka

Comments for Saltwater crocodiles in Katherine Gorge

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there are...
by: R.j

salties in Katherine Gorge. I have been there and saw one so I would advise extreme carefulness in there but I hope you come back alive.

by: Amanda

I have lived in Katherine for many years, and yes you do get the occasional salt water crocodile in the lower part of the first Gorge, the Katherine rangers are very good at catching these pesky devils. As locals we all swim in the Katherine river and the gorge system but only in designated areas, so don't worry, just do it, it's awesome.

by: Anonymous

Are there crocs at Katherine gorge and are you able to swim there?
What month is good to come up there to canoe and swim?
Me and my partner from Sydney

Walk on water
by: Anonymous

12 years old I was, been traveling in hot car all day, we had travelled to Katherine for work. Us kids explored the area, I loved the water, so just jumped in, floating around on my back, just beautiful, UNTIL, I hear an old aboriginal man, Hey Girl, there's crocodiles in that river.
Katherine River, I was out in the middle by then. Poof, I was out of there.

It's bad advice!
by: Anonymous

No matter what the rangers do or don't do! No matter if locals swim there or don't! Salties have been caught there. So, there is always a chance of being attacked! So, telling people it's safe is BS! If you want to take a chance and swim with them then fine! But tell other people to do it! Are you going to support their family! If they are killed by a croc! People in Australia take stupid chances all the time and a few die! The last thing you want to be in is a canoe or kayak and has a sale next to you!!! Good luck! Be safe and use some common sense!!!

Down Katherine Gorge on air-beds
by: Anonymous

I hiked up Katherine Gorge to Butterfly Gorge in 1991 and we took air-beds with us and then floated all the way back down to the boat ramp. There were two of us and we were met by many tourist boats taking photos of us.
I'm pretty sure we heard and saw some fresh water crocodiles moving around but we got down intact.
Of course we were younger and pretty brave (stupid) then, but it does make me think, we would have been lunch had a rogue salty been around.
I think we asked at the rangers station if it was ok.

Re: Down Katherine Gorge on air-beds
by: Birgit

Haha, nice memory! And not at all stupid. Everyone was swimming in the Katherine River back then. The crocs hadn't gotten that far yet. It is only in recent years that they have become such a nuisance.

Here is some background info on that.

The first paragraphs of the article mention exactly what you did: floating down the Katherine River in the 90s. It was safe back then. It was still safe when the question on this page was originally asked and answered. It is definitely not safe any more today.

There are ZERO saltwater crocodiles in the Gorge. NEW
by: Anonymous

You won't have ANY problems with salties in the tourist areas of the Katherine Gorge. You might see a 10 foot freshie if you're lucky (there are a couple of 'em) but they won't bother you. This is a highly tourist dependant place and the rangers make damn sure there are NEVER salties to bother anyone. In the many decades of history of tourist operations in Katherine Gorge, they found salties only on two occasions and they were smaller younger ones, quickly removed and never been sighted at any other time.Have no fear. There has never been a crocodile attack in the tourist areas of Katherine Gorge.Ignore the opinions of the alarmists who don't know what they are talking about and just want to be sensationalist. They are social media morons.

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