Top of the world

Top of the world

Urban warriors like my best friend Laura and I love self-driving vacations.

We call the shots on where and when to go - that's our idea of a perfect holiday.

We touched down in Darwin, the capital of Australia's Northern Territory, and were on the road immediately - in a silver Ford Falcon, no less.

We were women on a mission, carefully studying the route (slightly over 1,000km) that would take us through attractions such as Kakadu National Park, Katherine, and Litchfield National Park, and then back to Darwin. Laura took the wheel and I was the navigator.

"Keep your eyes on both the map and the road signs," she said, before the car engine roared to life. And we were off!

Oh my Croc!

About an hour and half's drive from Darwin is the Adelaide River. As we neared the end of Fogg Dam Road along the river, I felt my heart race a little. Yes, we had arrived at the Jumping Crocodile Cruise! Adelaide River is where wildlife lovers and adrenaline junkies congregate for sightings of the Australian saltwater crocodile.

The waterways of northern Australia are teeming with over 80,000 of these magnificent creatures. But as they often bury themselves beneath muddy layers and hide under gigantic growths, unsuspecting passers-by are oblivious to their presence.

As the party of 30 sailed off, our guide Harry entertained us with snippets of Australia's natural heritage, pointing out kites and sea eagles along the way. The star of the day was none other than Brutus, the 5.5m long crocodile that we had come to see. As screams of delight (or terror) mingled with the whirr of the boat's engine into a deafening cacophony, the reptile leapt up and chomped on the chunk of buffalo meat that Harry dangled just outside the boat.

This manifestation of sheer power truly gave those glimpses of golden-hued slitty eyes, gleaming hide and slithery movements a sense of menace and brutality.

Whether it was due to this awareness or simply because of the sweltering heat, beads of perspiration had formed on my forehead. If adrenaline triggers flight or fight, I'd have little trouble choosing.

And how did Harry know that this was indeed Brutus? Well, it is short of a front leg on the right after a shark attack.

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