Roebuck Bay is situated on one side of Broome with Cable Beach on the other; it is in an ideal spot for all sorts of water sports. It is a little over rated by many
people in Australia who have not travelled overseas to exotic locations. However, the stark beauty of Gantheaume Point and the sharp contrast of red rocks against
azure seas make the area special along the North West Coast.
The area north of Broome up to Beagle Bay is worth exploring if you have a 4-wheel drive and some spare time. There are estuarine crocodiles
in the area so stay alert when you are close to the water. They are even seen off Cable Beach fairly regularly. Another hazard present in the sea during the hotter months
is the box jellyfish.
Beagle Bay was the first mission established in the Kimberley by the Right Rev. Dr. Gibney and was founded in 1890. The monks sent to Beagle Bay
experimented with the planting of tropical fruits and vegetables with some success. The church is famous for its decorations of pearl shell.
There is an annual festival in Broome known as Shinju Matsuri. It celebrates the pearling history of the town and the contribution of various ethnic groups who worked and
died in pursuit of pearl shell.
This area is one of the most species rich bird migration zones in the world. The vast mudflats and extreme tidal range mean that the diversity of organisms present in the mud is
very high in fact it is thought to be the highest in the world for this type of environment. The birds visit the area to re-fuel on their way north or south. Around 200,000 birds
are known to use the bay. This is a very significant number when you realise that the total number of shorebirds thought to inhabit South Australia or Victoria are about the same.
Roebuck Bay is seen as the most important shorebird migratory site in Australia with at least 20 species using the area.
At this location there is a roadhouse on the Great Northern Highway, only 34km east of Broome. If you plan on skipping Broome (not a good idea) then this is the re-fuelling stop before
you continue north or south.
Travellers are reporting that this is a great place for big rigs and pet owners to stay for a while if they want to see Broome. Caravan parks in Broome are generally not suitable for big rigs and
few if any take dogs.
The roadhouse is only abut a 15 minute drive from town so it is a good place to stay if you want to explore the area.
The 'pirate' William Dampier visited the area in 1688 aboard the
privateer ship Cygnet. After writing a book about this voyage he returned to the area with a commission from the Admiralty aboard HMS Roebuck.
The French left many Gallic names scattered along the coast to account for their passing and most of them remain to this day. Many of these later explorers carried with them
copies of Dampier's original writings.
A convict named Wildman (possibly appropriate) was to be the catalyst of the next expedition to the area. Wildman claimed that he had found gold in the north west when serving
aboard a Dutch ship. It was confirmed that he had sold some gold nuggets back in England and so a group was formed to travel with him to look for gold. Wildman proved to be
unreliable and no gold was found but when the party stopped off at Roebuck Bay, it was determined that there was good pastoral land nearby and not long afterwards The Roebuck
Bay Pastoral Association brought 2000 sheep north in the ship Hastings. (October 1864).
In November 1864 a group of explorers (James Harding, Police Inspector Frederick Panter and Constable William Goldwyer) set off from Cape Villaret looking for more pastoral land.
When nothing had been heard of them for over 60 days a rescue party was formed and went heavily armed as it was suspected that the original party had been murdered by Aborigines.
Eventually the murdered explorers were found.They had been attacked in their sleep and had no opportunity to defend themselves before being clubbed and speared to death.
(This has since been disputed but as only one of the three men was outside the tent and had only fired three or four shots, it seems likely that they were attacked at night
without any warning.)
At Cape Latouche on the 6th of April 1865, the European punitive expedition (as it had now become) led by
confronted about 25 native warriors. The result was never in doubt. After a brief fight 18-20 Aborigines were either wounded or dead and the remainder fled into the mangroves.
A settlement was established at Camden Harbour
(600 miles north east of Broome) by a group of Victorians who had high hopes but no practical experience.
After 11 months of torment (including the loss of most stock and the deaths of 9 settlers) the settlement at Camden Harbour was abandoned and the initial investment of around
20,000 pounds was all lost.
When pearling started in Broome there was more trouble with the local Aborigines because many pearling captains had no morals at all and happily kidnapped men and women from the
tribes and forced them to dive for pearl shell. This was nothing more than slavery and many Aborigines died during these dangerous dives. Finally in 1875 the Pearl Shell Fishery
Regulation Act came into force and the most wild excesses of pearlers were curbed.
Most pearlers lived aboard their ships as a safety precaution against attacks from local Aborigines (who were especially warlike in this area) but infestations of cockroaches would
force them ashore to escape the unwanted attentions of the insects that were said to eat the calluses and toenails right off the pearlers' feet. To rid themselves of these insects
some skippers sailed into tidal creeks, sank the boat and waited for the tide to fall before letting the water out and plugging the keel again.
The copper diving helmet arrived in the mid 1880s and by the end of the decade most divers used it when collecting shells. This meant the end of using Aboriginal divers. The pearling
season was also changed from summer (when dangerous cyclones were frequent) to winter.
When the 'White Australia policy' was introduced there was a concerted effort to have Malay, Japanese and other foreign national divers removed
and replaced by Australian divers. The pearling Masters could see their profits disappearing as they would have to pay proper wages to the Australians while they were free to pay foreign
workers a pittance. A group of experienced English divers was brought in but their work was deliberately sabotaged and after deaths and injuries, the idea was abandoned and the pearling
Masters had their way. (Strange that even now we see more and more Australian jobs going overseas for exactly the same reason, greed!)
The town developed due to the rich pearling grounds off the coast but diving for pearls in shark infested seas where strong currents could sweep divers away, was not for the faint hearted.
Fatalities from "the bends" and shark attacks were high. One lugger lost eight men in eight days but the lust for riches drove others on.
Broome was officially founded in 1883 (one day before Derby) and was named by
John Forrest after
Sir Frederick Napier Broome
(Governor of W.A.) The Aboriginal name for the area is Nileribanjen. The Governor made some enquiries about the town and found it was uninhabited. This led him to complain that the only
people in Broome were the 'tenants of three graves' and asked that the name be cancelled. This offended Forrest as his brother Matthew had died aboard a pearling vessel and was buried in
the cemetery. However, Sir Frederick was destined to achieve a sort of immortality despite himself.
A telegraph cable was laid from Broome to Singapore in 1889. This gave Australia a connection to England and was the source of the name 'Cable Beach'.
A deep water jetty had been completed by 1897 and by the following year Broome had become the foremost port in the north west.
Broome's early days were marked by a real 'wild west' atmosphere where gambling, drinking and fighting were among the main entertainments. The pearlers were a rough bunch but they did have
a code of honour among themselves and fights resulted in nothing more serious than a few bruises and lumps.
The police were quite corrupt and readily took bribes to 'look the other way' when it came to enforcing licensing, gambling and prostitution laws.
A Japanese sauce factory was established in 1916 and was successful for many years. It was the only one of its kind in Australia and the soy sauce made there took some 9 months to produce.
The factory was established because import duties on soy sauce were so high.
In 1920 racial tensions boiled over and a riot erupted between the Japanese and Koepangers. After 3 days of mayhem it was amazing that only three men had been killed but eventually the tension
subsided and by Boxing Day the riots were over. Sadly Inspector Thomas, who had taken charge during the riots and had prevented them from getting too far out of hand, collapsed and died on the
evening of the day that things settled down.
The terrible effects of cyclones on the pearling fleet was never more evident than in 1935 when the fleet stayed too long at sea and were caught by a huge storm. Of the 36 boats that failed to
get to shelter 20 went down and only two men from those that sank made it to shore. Only one man survived long enough to be rescued. The other 16 boats were all battered and de-masted by the
storm. A total of 141 men had died.
In 1922 there was an attempt by Murakami Yusukichi and Ancil Gregory to introduce cultured pearling to the area. This was strongly resisted by other pearlers and despite being initially granted
a license for the production of cultured pearls, the authorities buckled under pressure and the enterprise was shut down before it even managed to get going. Murakami also developed a new design
for a diving outfit that used a metal tank to hold air for the diver. He initially had a patent for the design but this lapsed while he was interned during World War Two
and in 1943 two Frenchman (Gagnan and Cousteau) came up with the SCUBA design that was almost identical to that of Murakami.
With the development of plastic buttons, the demand for pearl shell collapsed and the town went into decline. Now Broome is a tourist town and a base for excursions into the Kimberley region, Broome is promoted as the "Pearl of the Northwest". Cultured pearls have returned some of the former glory to the area.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
Australia's Oldest Ghost?
The story goes that in 1699 William Dampier sailed the ship Roebuck into what is now called Roebuck Bay at Broome.
Dampier set about collecting specimens to take back to England and it is said by some that while he was there he buried a small chest of treasure on what is today known as Buccaneer Rock.
Dampier then sailed away never to return and on his way back to England the Roebuck, infested with marine worms, eventually fell apart.
Many many years later some locals would claim that on misty nights Dampier's ghost ship would return with glowing white sails, groaning decks with Dampier himself standing on deck holding high a lantern looking for his lost treasure.
Unfortunately there is a bit of a hole in this story because Dampier did not actually enter Roebuck Bay. Instead he landed further south and a party went ashore looking for water.
Interestingly though there are the remains of a ship on Buccaneer Rock that are thought to be 100 years old.
From what we can gather it is the wreck of the Sybil, lost during a cyclone in 1910. From the records it looks as though another ship with the same name was lost near Broome in 1917.
Real Ghost Ship
While we are on the subject of ghosts and ghost ships there is a real mystery that also comes from Broome regarding the mysterious fate of a fishing boat crew.
The High Aim 6 was reported missing by its Taiwanese owners in December 2002.
On January 4th 2003 the ship was sighted off the Western Australian coast with its motor still running but no signs of the crew.
Five days later when it was boarded the engine had stopped and the rudder was locked.
There were still possessions of the crew on board and the hold was full of rotting fish.
No signs of a struggle could be found and the fate of the captain, the engineer and the 10 Indonesian crew remained a mystery.
The ship was towed to Broome and was moored while its fate was decided.
Eventually it was decided that the hull was not suitable to become an artificial reef so the ship was broken up and its remains discarded at the local rubbish tip.
One source does state that one of the crew members was finally located and admitted that the captain and engineer had been murdered by the crew.
Local calls from the engineer's phone were apparently being made in Indonesia after the ship had been located so it does seem probable that there was a mutiny but the reason for it and the details have never come to light.
The previous year the Taiwanese ship Hairisheng 6 was also found abandoned by the Indonesian navy. 3 of its crew were later arrested and confessed to the murder of the captain and engineer.
Ghosts around the light.
A beacon that once used to burn on a beach near Broome was said to dim unaccountably from time to time. It was overhauled and checked with no apparent reason ever found but the dimming
continued. One explanation offered was that the ghosts of drowned pearlers danced around the light causing it to dim at certain times of the year.
The Southern Cross Pearl.
Uncounted pearls have come out of the waters around Broome but probably the most famous pearl of all was called the Southern Cross. It was not one pearl but a series joined together in the shape of a
cross. A pearler called Kelly discovered it and sold it to Frank Roy for just 10 pounds. Roy thought it was a great joke when he sold it in Cossack for 40 pounds but both men did not realise the
unique nature of a natural gem that was to sell in London in 1924 for 24,000 pounds. The pearl was later bought by the Vatican and became one of its numerous treasures. An interesting assertion
has come to light about this gem from the original discoverer, James William Sherbrook Kelly, who wrote to the papers in February 1887 claiming that the gem had been found in three distinct pieces.
Kelly wrote in part:
"I left Cossack on a pearling cruise on the 12th November, 18S2, and on the 25th March, 1883, I and three natives were out "beachcombing.'' I found one shell only, and the natives two,
and I returned at night tired, and so disgusted with my bad luck, that I determined to go back to my home at the Lacepede Islands. Next day, however, I was more successful, getting altogether
about 200 pair of shells. During my absence a boy named Clarke, in my employment, in opening one of the shells obtained the previous day, found the pearl above-mentioned. He said it was a
perfect cross when he got it, but when he handed it to me, it was in three pieces. In this condition, i.e. in three distinct pieces, I sold it to a fellow-pearler, Mr. Frank Roy for 10 (pounds),
subsequently he sold it to Mr. Frank Craig, for 40 [pounds], Mr. Frank Craig sold it to a syndicate of leading gentlemen in this colony. This pearl was found off Baldwin Creek, in lat, 17
south, long.122 30 east. What I wish particularly to impress on the public is (1) that the pearl when sold by me was not a perfect cross, but was in three distinct pieces."
A book by Henry Taunton (Wanderings in Western Australia and the Malay East) claims that the Southern Cross Pearl, as it exists in the shape of a cross, is a fake.
'Who would suppose that the "Southern Cross Pearl" that celebrated gem of which so much has been written, that wonderful freak of nature, is mainly the work of the "pearl - faker"'
But there is another fact which, strangely enough, Mr. Kelly seems to have forgotten to mention, namely, that the pearl, when he sold it to Frank Roy in three pieces, consisted of only eight
pearls, and that to make it resemble a well-proportioned cross, the right arm being absent, another pearl, a match in shape and fit, was subsequently procured and fastened to the others.
Thus, there are no less than three artificial joints in the Southern Cross Pearl.
I also happened to be on a pearling cruise between November and April 1882-83, and had occasion to touch at the Lacepede Islands shortly after the "Southern Cross" was discovered.
When Frank Roy showed it to me it was in three pieces. These were afterwards joined together by diamond cement, and the pearl, still wanting one pearl to transform it into a shapely
cross, was sold in Cossack at the end of the season.'
It would appear from this the the Vatican's 'treasure' is not quite what they think it is.
There are stories in Broome dating back to the early days of pearling that suggest that the European skippers of pearling luggers had to be very careful on their voyages out to collect pearl shell.
Most went out with loaded weapons, not as you might expect as protection against sharks and crocodiles, but as protection against their own crews.
Lugger crews were made up mostly of Malays or Japanese and at one point the Japanese started to dominate as crew members. More than one skipper didn't return with their vessel and was said
to have fallen overboard during a storm.
The Malays and Japanese had a long standing hatred of each other and it was found that if crews were mixed 50/50 from these two groups that skippers stopped falling overboard in a 'storm'.
Following is a newspaper article in the The 'Maitland Mercury' and Hunter River General Advertiser on Thursday 30 January 1873. It shows in some detail the dangers faced on the pearling grounds.
"TRAGEDIES AT THE WEST AUSTRALIAN PEARL. FISHERIES.
The correspondent of the Melbourne Argus at Freemantle writes on the 30th December . -
From Roebourne, in the extreme north of the colony, we have accounts of two tragical occurrences. On the 4th inst, three aboriginals were placed on their trial, charged with the murder
of Mr Walter Ledger. The murder took place on board a pearling cutter named the Hampton, and there seems to have been no special provocation, for the blackfellows merely stated that they were
"sulky" because a black man had been killed by a white some time before.
The master of the Hampton had been on an island obtaining turtles, and was in his boat sculling back to the Hampton, when he heard a crash on board of her, and looking up, saw the native,
Dugald, striking Ledger on the head with an axe. After the first blow, Ledger filed his revolver, breaking Dugald's arm. Ledger lingered for a fortnight, and then died, no surgical aid
being obtainable in that remote place. Two of the natives received sentence of death, which was afterwards commuted to penal servitude for life.
Another tragical event is reported from the same locality, and serves to show with what singular and culpable rashness the pearlers trust themselves amongst men who have a world-wide
reputation for treachery and ferocity. Two young men, Mr. Passey and Mr Roe, brought over from Coepang to the north west coast 37 Malay divers, to assist them in the pearl-fishery and
in collecting and curing the trepang or sea-slug. Thirteen of these were Macassar men, good sailors and fair divers Their vessel, the Gift, was a schooner of 30 tons, and besides the
37 Malays there were in all six whites on board. It is scarcely credible that these fool hardy young fellows, on a distant part of the coast with a mob of half-wild Malays on board,
actually kept no watch, and the wonder is that anyone of them remains alive to tell the story. The Malays waited their opportunity, and then rising in the night, murdered one white,
wounded the others, and, taking possession of the schooner, sailed off with her to their own country.
Mr. Roe's deposition is published in the Inquirer, of 11th December, as follows.
"The following is the deposition of Mr. George Roe, made on the 30th October last, before the resident magistrate at Roebourne. The only additional information we have been able to
glean of this unfortunate affair is that the Government Resident at Roebourne (Mr. Sholl) took prompt steps to acquaint the authorities at Coepang of the conduct of the Malays, for
which purpose the schooner Adur had been engaged and despatched to that port, that the master of the Gift (Christie) has since died, and that Mr. Passey is re- covering from his wounds
under medical treatment at Champion Bay -
"About a week since I arrived on the north-west coast of Australia in the schooner Gift, 30 tons burden. My port of departure was Coepang, The Gift was owned by Mr. Passey and myself, her
sailing master was Hugh Christie. There were on board Christie, Passey, myself, Frank Roy, George Lute, and Francis Harris, and also thirty-seven Malay divers. After our arrival on the coast
we employed our Malay divers four times They seemed well satisfied. There was nothing in their conduct to arouse suspicion At midnight on Saturday, 26tb October, the Gift was lying at
anchorage off Condon. There was no watch kept I was asleep in the cabin. My partner, Mr. Philip Passey, was sleeping on deck, and so was the master, Christie. Frank Roy, a seaman, was
sleeping in the cabin; George Lute, the cook, was sleeping forward, and so was the boy Francis Harris I was awakened by cries from on deck, and by my partner, Mr. Passey, falling into the
cabin. I asked him what was the matter He said, 'The Macassar men have broken out, and the Serang has tried to kill me' Upon this he returned on deck with his revolver and fired twice.
It was quite dark, we had no light in the cabin. After firing, Passey again fell into the cabin, having received 12 or 13 wounds He lay down helpless. Frank and I commenced to look for our
revolvers, which we found and loaded. During the whole of this time the Malays were throwing down on us harpoons, lances, oars, firewood, boat hooks, and every article they could lay
hands on. We were not struck with any of the sharp instruments, except Mr. Passey, who had a lance through his leg, but we were bruised by the firewood, etc. For a good hour we kept
the Malays at bay, firing from the cabin when we got the chance, they were stationed at the companion, armed with axes. Finding that we were getting completely blocked up with the
missiles thrown into the cabin, we rushed on deck with our revolvers. My revolver was not loaded. Frank turned round and fired forward at the Malays, who directly we came on deck
dropped their axes, and rushed forward. As far as we could see, our assailants were all Macassar men, of whom we had 13 on board, including the Serang. We kept them at bay for about
one hour, shooting at them as they attempted to come aft. I loaded my revolver on deck. Immediately after we arrived on deck, we placed Passey in the dingy, which was towing astern.
Christie, who bad been bruised, and who was lying under the wheel, where he had crawled, was also put into the dingy. The boy Francis and the cook Lute came to us after we had been
on deck some time. I then went into the boat. Lute had not been wounded. Our ammunition was nearly expended, and Frank had been wounded with an arrow. We fired the last shot, and
then retreated to the dingy, from which we heard cries from Passey, saying that he was dying. We pulled ashore, a distance of about two miles. We saw the vessel under way immediately
after we left her. We put our wounded men on board the Mary, where they were kindly attended to by the master (Captain Littlejohn), Mr. Grant, and others. I examined the wounds of
the men. Mr. Passey had on axe wound on the forehead, and two axe wounds on the crown of his head, a knife wound on each shoulder and on the left breast, a lance wound through the
ankle, and a lance wound on the left hip, a knife wound on the lower part of abdomen, which was deep, and a knife wound in the back. He had also other wounds, and was much bruised.
I consider the wound in the abdomen to be the most serious of his wounds. The boy Francis was cut across the eye, apparently with a knife. He was much bruised all down the right side.
Frank had a deep arrow wound in the left thigh, and several bruises. Christie was much bruised At daylight on Sunday morning I took passage in the Amateur for Port Walcott, whither I
arrived this morning at 8 o'clock When I left, the wounded men seemed all doing pretty well except Passey. I do not expect the Mary will be here for some time, as she had only just
commenced to unload. I do not think the other Malays assisted the Macassar men. I think they were all below. At peep of day on Sunday the Banningarra, with Messrs. Anderson, Grant,
Fauntleroy, Lambert, Smith, Frank Roy, George Lute, and others sailed in search of the Gift. This was about two hours after we left her. Frank Roy behaved very well during the
affray. We had not given the Macassar men any provocation. We had treated them kindly. They were engaged at Coepang in the presence of the Resident's secretary Their agreements
are in the Gift "
The Cursed Pearl.
It is well known that many pearls found their way on to the black market as crews came up with all sorts of ways of pocketing the gems before their bosses got their hands on them.
When a pearl buyer who was known to deal in stolen pearls turned up floating face down in the sea near Chinatown, an investigation was launched into his murder.
When found the dealer still had some 450 pounds in cash on him and it appeared that he had died from blows to the head.
The police eventually arrested three men, Marquez, Espada and Hagan. Marquez turned King's evidence in an effort to save himself from the gallows and admitted that the plan was to rob the
dealer (Liebglid) of 500 pounds that he had agreed to pay for a large stolen pearl.
They lured Liebglid down to the mangroves near the Roebuck Hotel where they attacked him but not before he had the chance to cry out 'Murder!'. The attackers fled into the night without
managing to collect the money and the dealer's body was found the following morning.
The men had been turned in to the police by a pearl diver called Toledo. He claimed that the three had been seen with wet clothes and were whispering together the night of the murder.
Marquez, Espada and Hagan were tried in Fremantle and hanged for their crime (turning King's evidence did not save Marquez.) but the pearl they had lured Liebglid to his death with had
not been found.
Rumour has it that Toledo had originally stolen the pearl and Marquez had seen him hide it. Marquez then stole it for himself and that was why Toledo turned him in to the police.
The pearl is said to have been in the hands of an old Philippino who was almost destitute. He sold it to a man called Gomez and then returned on the proceeds to the Philippines but died
almost as soon as he touched home soil.
Then the pearl was stolen from Gomez who committed suicide in a fit of despair. Then it turned up in Port Hedland and was bought by a man called Davis who was
about to sail on the ship Koombana.
The Koombana sailed from Hedland on March 19th 1912, straight into the arms of a huge cyclone. The Koombana was lost with all hands.
Even the original thief, Toledo did not escape the curse of the pearl. He drowned in a cyclone off Eighty Mile Beach.
WWII and Diamond Jack.
During World War II, Broome served as a military outpost and was attacked by Japanese planes. The most serious loss of life occurred after Dutch civilians had boarded flying boats in Roebuck Bay
waiting to be flown further south. 16 flying boats were moored in the bay and none survived the attack. Casualty figures vary but it is thought that up to 200 people lost their lives in the raid.
The aircraft had been getting ready to leave the area and had been told to leave by 10am. The Japanese attack started at 9:30am with all the flying boats still at anchor and packed with passengers.
It was all over by 10:30am and 23 allied airplanes had been destroyed.
The Japanese lost 2 planes, one was shot down during the raid and a second ran out of fuel on the return flight to Koepang.
A plane that was due to land at Broome managed to miss the above destruction by landing at Wallal Station instead. If it was not for this lucky mistake they too would have been among the
casualties at Roebuck Bay.
On the same day a Dutch DC3 was making its way down the coast when it too was jumped by Japanese zeros. The pilot and others were wounded and the plane crash landed on the beach at Carnot
Bay. Three people died while waiting for rescue. Days later, the remaining survivors were rescued. However, a package handed to the pilot when leaving Indonesia, remained on the plane.
The crashed DC-3 Jack Palmer is second from the right
Jack Palmer, sailing past the abandoned plane some time later, stopped to examine the wreckage and came across the mysterious package. Imagine his surprise when he found it full of glittering
diamonds. The diamonds found their way into numerous pockets and 'Diamond' Jack returned a number to the authorities. It was suspected that Jack had kept a large portion of the gems and he was
charged and brought to trial. The jury - which seems to have had some sympathy with 'Diamond' Jack - acquitted him and he took the secret of the missing diamonds to his grave.
There were 3 more raids on Broome by the Japanese but it was the first one that was the most devastating.
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Broome Crocodile Park (established by Malcolm Douglas - hero to all those who love the north west.), Bird observatory, Japanese cemetery, Buccaneer Rock, Cable Beach, Museum, Deep Water Point, Staircase To The Moon, Dinosaur footprints, Moonlight Bay, Streeter's Jetty, Bedford Park, Flying boat wrecks, Captain Gregory's house, Riddell Beach, Beagle Bay, Gantheaume Point, Anastasia's Pool. Malcom Douglas' new Wildlife Wilderness Park.
BUILDINGS OF NOTE
Sun Picture Theatre. This building was first used as a dry goods store and was constructed by the Yamasaki family. Later it was turned in to a Japanese Playhouse and in 1916 it became an open air picture house. It is now recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest continually operating cinema in the world, Streeter & Male company house circa 1900, Uniting church 1910, Old police lockup 1894, Courthouse 1889, Anglican church 1903, Museum 1889.
Malcolm Douglas' Crocodile farm
We arrived at the park before the 3pm feeding tour was due to take place and so did about a hundred other people. The one thing that will leave some people disappointed about the
3pm tour is that too many people take the tour and some will see nothing but the backs of others when the feeding takes place. There is probably a good reason for only doing one
tour a day but I have to admit that more tours would thin the numbers down a bit. You can wander the park freely before or after the tour so you won't really miss anything important
if there are a lot of visitors.
The park is interesting and you can watch some of Malcolm's documentaries in an outdoor viewing area before you go for a wander around. (Remember to take some insect repellent as
the croc park has lots of pools where hungry mosquitoes tend to breed.)
Having been to a croc park in Innisfail we had (to be honest) been hoping to see Malcolm rather than the crocs but as there were several species of crocodile on display (as well
as a few kangaroos) there was more to see than we had expected. South American Camen, New Guinea Crocs, American Alligators, Freshwater and Estuarine crocs make up the collection
and it is worth coming to see what each species looks like.
Because of the variety of species here and the chance to see the differences between them, this is the croc park to visit while you are touring Australia. The one we saw in
Queensland isn't a patch on this one.
Reviewed: May 2003
Note: Sadly Malcolm was killed in an accident in September 2010. He was a great Australian and will be greatly missed by everyone.