This photo of the Fitzroy river in flood under the Willare Bridge, on the road between Fitzroy Crossing and Broome, was published on FaceBook a while back.
It reminded me of when I drove that way, going to a meeting in Broome in the Holden Colorado. The river was not so high then. It was in the dry season.
As I approached the bridge I saw a rental campervan parked on the verge at the end.
A young man was climbing on the parapet in the middle of the bridge and was clearly about to jump in. I pulled up beside him and wound down my window. He looked nervously at the Shire logo on my Colorado, then returned my friendly smile as I said “G’day mate. Having fun?”
“Yes” he answered in a German accent.
I knew it. Tourist.
“You know that’s pretty dangerous”. I said.
“Oh no! The water is very deep. We checked first before we started to jump”.
“Good”, I answered. “How long have you been swimming here?”
“About twenty minutes. It is not illegal, yes?”
“Oh it is not illegal. But I am thinking you should stop. Twenty minutes should be just about enough time for the crocodiles to realise you are here. They will have heard you jumping in, with all the big splashes you must be making.”
“Yes. Big man-eating salties live in this river. If it was only freshies I’d say go on and have fun. Freshies are harmless. But salties… They eat people”.
He called out urgently to his companions below, in German. I recognised only the word “Krokodil”.
He looked very pale as he waited for his companions to scramble up the bank..
“it is not a joke, yes?”
“No joke mate. This area is full of crocodiles. Be very careful where you swim”.
We talked a little more. They had driven up from Perth. They were heading for Darwin. It seemed no one had told them about the crocs in this part of the country.