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Published August 12th 2015
Discover these Descendants of the Dinosaurs
Koorana Crocodile Farm, just a half hour drive from Rockhampton in Coowonga, was opened in 1981 and was the first commercial crocodile farm in Queensland. The farm can now carry as many as 3,000 crocodiles. Koorana gives visitors the opportunity to view these remarkable reptiles at close quarters.
A female crocodile chomping down a piece of chicken.
We are visiting in May on a glorious blue sky day. While we wait for the tour to start we look at display cases of crocodile and alligator skulls, at crocodile skins mounted on the ceiling and at crocodile skin merchandise; handbags, belts and shoes.
Outside in the breeding pond there are nineteen crocodiles. A few of them are quietly sunning themselves in the mud; they look peaceful and calm. The ponds are shared by wild birds; white egrets, striated herons, black-winged stilts, a white-faced heron, and a yellow-billed spoon bill.
From left to right - fresh water crocodile, salt water crocodile and alligator skulls.
Our guide, a vivacious young woman called Amanda, talks about the farming and conservation of crocodiles. Amanda passes around a processed skin from the back of one of these majestic reptiles. It is surprisingly heavy. A short video plays before we leave for the ponds to feed the crocodiles.
Wise warnings are issued. We must keep our hands behind the fences as the crocodiles are able to jump as high as their tail is long. Damage on top of one of the fences testifies to this. Amanda calls the crocodiles and coaxes them to the fence with a feed of raw chickens. It seems they are well fed as they dawdle out of the water. Whistling kites fly overhead attracted by the food; what a splendid site these graceful birds are.
In another pond we are introduced to a large male called Blondie. This guy's got some serious toenails. He is brother to Casanova, the crocodile who services the eighteen females in the first pond. We move to several more ponds and as we do Amanda feeds the crocodiles and relates the story of each. A particularly large male was captured in the Fitzroy River at Rockhampton. We won't be going for a swim any time soon. Koorana Crocodile Farm performs crocodile removals from areas where humans are at risk. Some of these captured crocodiles are kept for breeding.
Before the tour finishes we have the opportunity to hold a small, two-year-old crocodile. He is tame but still his mouth is taped to prevent accidents. Even the tiny tots are given a chance to hold him. I take him as directed, one hand under his tail and the other behind his front feet. He weighs very little and is soft, not scaly. Touching him is like touching the soft skin of a person.
Holding a two year old crocodile at Koorana Crocodile Farm.
After the tour we stay on at the restaurant for a meal of crocodile meat to complete the experience. There are many dishes on the menu. We choose crocodile steaks and marinated crocodile ribs. The meat is a little bland which is to my liking and no, it doesn't taste like chicken.
Some of the birds in the crocodile ponds - a spoonbill, an egret and a striated heron.
Directions: Koorana is a half hour drive from Rockhampton at 65 Savages Road, Coowonga. Directions can be found here.
Contact Details: They can be contacted on (07) 4934 4749, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via their website.
Opening Hours and Tour Times: The morning tour runs from 10.30am to 12noon, lunch from 12 noon to 1pm and the afternoon Tour from 1pm to 2.30pm. Last entry is at 2pm and gates close at 3pm. The farm is open every day except Christmas day.
Costs: At August 2015 costs are Adults - $28.00, Under 16 - $13.00, Under 3 – Free, Disabled-Aged Pensioner / Student (with card) - $24.00.
Facilities: There is onsite parking along the entry road. Public toilets are available. The restaurant is open between noon and 1pm and children's meals are available. There is a licensed bar. Souvenirs and crocodile skin products can be purchased.