Ben Hill is a reporter for The New Zealand Herald

Search resumes for missing woman after crocodile attack in North Queensland

Cindy Waldron originally from Hamilton and a resident of Lithgow New South Wales. Photo / Supplied
Cindy Waldron originally from Hamilton and a resident of Lithgow New South Wales. Photo / Supplied

A Kiwi woman believed to have been killed in a crocodile attack in Australia was with her childhood friend from Hamilton.

Former Hamilton woman Cindy Waldron, 46, was swimming with childhood friend, Leeann Mitchell, at Thornton Beach, Daintree in North Queensland, about 10pm on Sunday when she screamed "A croc has got me."

Ms Mitchell, 47, tried to drag Ms Waldron away but was unsuccessful.

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She has not been seen since.

A cousin of Ms Mitchell, Alan Frost, who lives in Stratford, told the Herald she was unhurt but "in shock".

She was recovering in Mossman Hospital.

"She has got good friends around her," Mr Frost said.

"Leeann is a really good person, she has some really good support around her."

The two women were childhood friends and Ms Mitchell had recently undergone chemotherapy for cancer.

Ms Waldron had been living in Australia for 18 years. She was based in Lithgow, in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said the department had been liaising with New Zealand-based family of the missing woman.

Cooper Creek south of Cape Tribulation where Cindy Waldron was taken by a crocodile. Photo / Supplied
Cooper Creek south of Cape Tribulation where Cindy Waldron was taken by a crocodile. Photo / Supplied

A land, sea and air search for Ms Waldron was continuing, A Queensland Police Service spokesman said.

Senior Constable Russell Parker told ABC radio: "Her...friend tried to grab her and drag her to safety but she just wasn't able to do that."

The two women were not locals and might not have been aware that the area was well known as a crocodile habitat, Mr Parker said.

Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman Neil Noble told ABC: "The report that we have from the surviving woman is that they felt a nudge and her partner started to scream and then was dragged into the water."

Warren Enstch, who represents the area in the Australian Parliament, said the beach was beside a creek where tourism operators run crocodile-spotting tours.

Beware of crocodiles sign at an estuary in the Daintree National Park. Photo / Supplied
Beware of crocodiles sign at an estuary in the Daintree National Park. Photo / Supplied

Enstch said the two tourists had to have seen plentiful crocodile warning signs in the region.

"If you go in swimming at 10 o'clock at night, you're going to get consumed," he said.

The search has resumed for the woman, with SES, land and water police scouring the bushland near Thornton Beach.

The case has echoes of a fatal croc attack near the Daintree River just before Christmas in 1985.

Beryl Wruck, 43, was taken by a 5m croc after a fateful decision to take a late-night dip in the shallows of Barratt Creek after an evening of dancing and drinking with friends.

More recently, 5-year-old Jeremy Doble died when he was attacked by a 4.3m crocodile in a swamp behind his Daintree River home.

He vanished in February 2009, with his seven-year-old brother telling police he saw a croc in the water moments after the boy disappeared.

RECENT CROCODILE ATTACKS IN QUEENSLAND

May 29, 2016: A 46-year-old woman is snatched and dragged under water during a late-night swim with a friend at Thornton Beach in the Daintree National Park. Her friend tried in vain to save her.

March, 2016: Cooktown sailor Graham Clark fended off a crocodile with a piece of wood after it latched onto the side of his boat at the town's harbour. The 70-year-old was woken by barking fox-terrier Laddie.

December 2, 2015: Snorkelling off the coast of Lizard Island at night, Noosa man Mick Curwen was bitten on the arm by a 2.5m crocodile. He managed to shock the reptile by shining his torch in its eyes before frantically swimming to shore.

April 13, 2015: An elderly golfer was attacked at a Port Douglas course owned by Clive Palmer. The 70-year-old man disturbed a crocodile in a waterway at the 11th hole of the Palmer Sea Reef Golf Course and suffered puncture wounds.

March 9, 2011: A fisherman suffered a broken leg after being struck by a four-metre croc at Weipa in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The 28-year-old clung to mangroves before another fisherman was able to fight it off.

February 5, 2011: A north Queensland man was swimming at a popular watering hole near Weipa with his two daughters when a crocodile latched onto his arm. He punched it several times in the head before it let go.

February 8, 2009: Five-year-old Jeremy Doble was taken on the banks of the Daintree River in Cairns. He was playing with his older brother when he followed the family's dog into the water.

September 30, 2008: Vietnam veteran Arthur Booker, 62, was killed while checking a crab pot on the Endeavour River near Cooktown. Two weeks later remains were found in the stomach of a 4.3m crocodile.

- NZ Herald

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