Croc traps NZ 'city boy' in isolated hell

By Morgan Tait, Rourke Walsh

Photo / Getty Images
Photo / Getty Images

A New Zealand man last night spoke of his trauma of being trapped alone and stalked by a huge crocodile on a remote Australian island where he'd spent two weeks.

Ryan Blair, 37, was rescued by a West Australian boatie at the weekend, after an ordeal in which he was left dehydrated and stranded on the remote Governor Islands - partly in fear of being taken by the 6m saltwater crocodile.

His rescuer, Don MacLeod, said it was probably only a matter of time before a crocodile claimed Mr Blair and his small kayak.

"If he had left there and [missed] the first croc he would have met a few others on the way round. There are also lots of tiger sharks."

Originally from Wellington, but in Melbourne for the past decade, Mr Blair set off in March for the trip of a lifetime exploring the Australian coast.

As part of that adventure, he was dropped off by a yachtie on the Governor Islands in north western Australia almost three weeks ago - with the small kayak, 160 litres of water, dry stores, flour and camping equipment.

"I'm pretty much straight out of the city, I'm a city boy, but it's something I had been thinking about doing for a while and I did do a bit or research prior to heading out," said Mr Blair.

He hadn't set a limit to the time he would spend exploring.

"I was there for just over two weeks and I had decided that it was time to make my move to the mainland.

"That was when the crocodile made himself known; I had seen something in the distance but at that stage I couldn't be absolutely sure."

Trying to paddle the 2.5m kayak, Mr Blair soon found the going tough. He was weighed down by equipment and going against the current, and soon realised he wouldn't make the 4km journey.

But the real worry set in when he again failed in his attempt to paddle to the mainland a couple days later.

"At that point I was starting to get pretty concerned; I was already fatigued and run down and that was playing a major part in me wanting to leave and my water supply was also running quite low. I knew once I ran out of water it was going to get quite serious.

"It destroyed me emotionally but also physically. The next day I was aching all over and had to just sit down and rest because I could gather my strength."

The next day with a sore back and arms, dizzy and dehydrated Mr Blair was able to attract the attention of Mr MacLeod, who who lives in the small Kalumburu settlement nearby and was passing in a small boat.

Mr Blair, wearing only shorts and a hat, was exhausted, said Mr MacLeod. He had used all his supplies.

"He was very, very relieved to get out of there.

"He didn't know there were crocodiles in the area, and didn't know Governor Island has no water. When he tried to get off, the current was bad. So he tried to make a little raft to tow his stores across to the mainland [about 4km away] but a big crocodile that lives in that area spotted him and followed him.

"He went straight into some rocks and pulled the kayak up on the rocks out of the reach of the croc."

Last night, Mr Blair conceded it would "have been nice to meet Don before I jumped off on the island".

"I think everyone had seen Bear Grylls and Man vs Wild but being out there is nothing like that; they're definitely playing it up for the TV."

- NZ Herald

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