"Four-metre croc jumps in boat, bites man on head"; "Flood teen bitten by croc"; "Huge croc fights man's chainsaw": the Northern Territory News is never short of a headline with 75,000 salt-water crocodiles loose in Australia's Top End; and no visit is complete without a croc encounter of some sort. Here are five ways to live to tell the tale:

Go fishing

The barramundi grow big in the Daly River, but when you have a strike there you learn not to count your barra until they are in the boat. Minutes after setting off, we see both freshwater and saltwater crocodiles basking on the muddy banks. The freshies are smaller, 3m maximum, and not considered much of a danger; but the salties can grow to 6m plus, 1000kg, and are maneaters.

Which makes it all the more nerve-racking when Caroline agrees to return her 90cm barra to the river, and Steve hangs over the side for a full five minutes, supporting the fish until it's ready to swim off, all the time telling us how clients have fought with even bigger fish, only to reel in just a mangled fish head.

Steve runs Little Man's Fishing Charters from Daly River Mango Farm.
Go canoeing

Mick tells us there are no big salties in this section of the Katherine River - "but don't swim where it's deep".


We're too busy steering through the rapids, between rocks and around log-jams to worry about crocodiles, and on the long peaceful sections there are birds to watch - rainbow bee-eaters, azure kingfishers, white-bellied sea-eagles, flocks of pink and grey galahs - so it's not until I'm tucked up in my swag on the sandy riverbank that I remember there could be cold yellow eyes watching me from the water.

In the morning, we're all still there, and so are the crocs - but only little freshies warming up in the sun.

Mick's Gecko Canoeing river trips begin with a pick-up in Katherine.
Go spotting

Night falls as we settle into a flat-bottomed tin boat and chug off down the Katherine River. Noel tells us to shine our torches along the bank and we soon spot the giveaway ruby red dots of the freshies' eyes glowing in the dark. We reach a sandy beach and climb ashore for our barbecue, but before we begin to eat, Noel calls, "Come and meet Mouse!"

And right there is a fully grown freshie focused on a tin bucket containing fish.

"I don't know what I'd do if he tried something," says Noel. "All I've got is this spindly stick."

Luckily, Mouse behaves himself.

The Crocodile Night Adventure, in Katherine, runs from May to September.
Go cruising

At Adelaide River, 70km from Darwin, the salties come crowding when they hear the boat's engines. A huge fishing rod is dangled, a hunk of meat at the end of the line.

Dunk, dunk on the muddy water then it's snatched into the air as a crocodile launches itself out of the river, mouth agape, the sheer bulk of the body as awe-inspiring as its ability to propel itself so high. Again and again the bait is dangled, tantalising the croc until it drives itself up into the air again, so far that its hind legs are visible. Then it grabs the meat, the water splashing as it chomps away, before disappearing beneath the surface again.


Two companies run several cruises daily, with pick-ups in Darwin: jumpingcrocodilecruises.com.au and jumpingcrocodile.com.au.
Go swimming

Not in the river, unless you want to be a headline yourself, but in central Darwin at Crocosaurus Cove, where adrenalin nuts can get into the Cage of Death and be lowered into a big saltie's enclosure. With solid walls of 4cm thick acrylic and heavy mesh top and bottom, the cage is safe, although the bite marks on its surface might suggest otherwise.

If the crocs are feeling less lively, the punters, in masks and snorkels, can splash and shout to attract their attention, although simply being nose to nose with even a sleepy 5.5m crocodile called Choppa is enough to satisfy most thrill-seekers. Those who feel there's more safety in numbers can swim in the pool adjoining the croc enclosure.

Crocosaurus Cove is open daily.