Dangers & Annoyances

Salties & Stingers

From late October to May, the presence of box jellyfish makes swimming in Far North Queensland's alluring waters a risky proposition. Tiny irukandji jellyfish, usually only 1cm to 2cm in diameter, are almost invisible. Their potentially deadly toxin is excruciatingly painful. If you choose to risk it, only swim within patrolled stinger nets. Even then, know that minute irukandji can penetrate the nets, which have been known to trap saltwater (estuarine) crocodiles.

Year-round territorial, predatory salties (as the locals call them) – with lifespans averaging 70-plus years and adult lengths between 4m and 7m (gasp!) – inhabit Far North Queensland's mangroves, estuaries and rivers, and traverse open waterways and beaches: warning signs are posted where crocs are known to reside. While it's true that fatal attacks on humans are relatively uncommon, do heed the warning signs: unwary human interlopers are no match for these swift, intelligent reptiles. Shyer, less-aggressive freshwater crocodiles are smaller (up to 3m in length) and live inland in freshwater systems.

Assume all tropical waterways pose a risk. Never swim in saltwater creeks, in tidal rivers, or on beaches where water clarity is poor. Don't camp or wander by a river's edge, and don't leave food scraps lying around a camp site. Never provoke a crocodile in any way. Search 'be croc wise' at www.ehp.qld.gov.au for more.

When in doubt, stick with that lovely resort pool…

Discount Cards

The Capta 4 Park Pass (www.capta.com.au, adult/child/family $90/45/225) covers entry into four parks across Far North Queensland: the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary (Kuranda), Rainforestation (Kuranda), Wildlife Habitat (Port Douglas) and Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome.