Adelaide River is both the name of the river and a town. The river flows for 238 kilometres (148 miles) and is renowned for its high concentration of saltwater crocodiles. Other wildlife that call the river home include flying foxes, freshwater crocodiles, bull sharks and white-bellied sea eagles.
The town of Adelaide River was only proclaimed a town in 1962, and has a population of 350 people. It’s located 113 kilometres (70 miles) from Darwin and played a pivotal role in World War II, as it was a designated rest area for service personnel. Today, its most famous resident is a taxidermied water buffalo called Charlie, who starred in Crocodile Dundee. Following his death in 2000, Charlie now resides permanently inside the 303 Bar at Adelaide River Inn.
In the mid-20th century, the Australian saltwater crocodile (or ‘saltie’) was at risk of extinction. European settlers hunted them because of the value of their skin. Following the hunting ban in the 1970s, the saltwater crocodile population in Australia has since risen to sustainable numbers. Today, there are approximately 150,000 saltwater crocodiles and 100,000 freshwater crocodiles in northern Australia. This means there are nearly as many crocodiles as people. Ensure you always pay attention to warning signs when visiting national parks and waterways in the Northern Territory. Just because you can’t see them, doesn’t mean they aren’t lurking under the surface.
One of the best ways to see saltwater crocodiles in their natural habitat is on an Adelaide River jumping crocodile cruise. It’s a great day trip option from Darwin. There are several local tour companies that offer daily jumping crocodile cruises during the dry season. Because they’re cold blooded animals, they can usually be found sunbathing on the river’s muddy banks from June until August.
Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise say they educate their guests on croc biology, habits and their importance to the local ecosystem. In return for the crocodiles’ participation in the cruise, they feed them buffalo meat. The catch is, they have to jump high to reach the meat dangling on a pole off the boat. The enthusiastic staff know each crocodile by name on the tour as well.
Another option is a local company called Adelaide River Cruises. Run by two brothers, their one-hour jumping crocodile cruise is very similar. They operate on their own private stretch of the Adelaide River and have also named their resident salties. No matter which company you choose, you’re guaranteed to leave with fantastic photos and memories of jumping crocodiles on the Adelaide River.