When Animal Planet visited Annaburroo

Host: Annaburoo Station
Written by Barb Phillips – Manager, Annaburoo Station.

It was in December 2015 that we realised it was actually going to happen. After months of discussion between Crocodile Mick, film producers, and ourselves, Paul Bedard from Gator Boys was on his way to Annaburroo!

The itinerary was set, the film producers and team were in constant contact and an intense energy had surrounded us. Amongst all the hype were Adrian and I. We started to wonder what we were getting ourselves into. Who was this guy? What was he really like? Did he realise that saltwater crocodiles were quite different to the American alligator? We spent a few nights googling Paul and Gator Boys and watched a series of shows on YouTube. After looking at this footage we became even more concerned. We were very worried that Paul might get in the water with our saltwater crocodiles and possibly attempt some take on opening up a jaw and putting his head inside. We had seen this happen on YouTube. We had seen some very successful attempts but there was one attempt where the alligator had closed his jaw on Paul’s head. Paul extracted his head from the alligator’s locked jaw after a few seconds but the camera revealed several puncture wounds along his head with a good amount of claret running out! You can imagine our faces and thoughts as Adrian and I looked at each other in disbelief!  It was too late though. We had signed the paperwork and the crew were on their way.

In January 2016 we had the pleasure of inviting Alison Black of Black Productions (Sydney), Emma Masters of Weave Films (Darwin), and the Animal Planet crew on to the station to film Crocodile Mick, Roger Matthews, and Adrian working with crocodiles as part of our crocodile management program on Annaburroo. The crew spent four weeks with us, in our wettest, most humid, bug filled time of year. They were here to film an hour documentary to coincide with Animal Planet’s Monster Week that was to go to air in May 2016 so they had no choice but to cover up, drink loads of water, take electrolytes, and basically suck it up!

Prior to their arrival Adrian had constructed a purpose built crocodile holding facility at the back of our house! We had already relocated ‘Jack’, a 4.7m saltwater crocodile into this facility so we could get some close up footage of handling if required. We were quite concerned that the wet season rains would mean limited access to water holes where our problem crocodiles reside. Rain floods the catchment, the river rises, creeks back up, and the billabongs flood out. A good majority of Annaburroo basically goes under water in a big wet.

Relocating Jack to the purpose built holding facility.

Jack was filmed one morning. We drained the water from his swimming hole to reveal a very fat saltwater crocodile. We had been feeding him and topping his waterhole up regularly so he was very content in there. We put the tractor pallet forks up over the pen and had a cameraman filming from above. Gator boy and Roger worked closely with Jack while Adrian stood guard with his rifle.

Filming Jack.

It was then back to the billabong to set traps for a potential live capture of a crocodile. We had a couple of five metre aluminium traps set at specific hot spots on the billabong.

Portable trap next to the ‘Hilton’ camp on the billabong.

There was also a portable panel trap made up into a large enclosure with a slam shut gate. This enclosure was also set up on the edge of the billabong. It turned out to be quite effective and allowed the crew to catch a couple of saltwater crocodiles that had been eluding the standard rectangular trap for some time. You will see footage of this trap on the trailer for ‘Lair of the Killer Crocs’.

Paul Bedard was an intriguing and awesome individual whom we hope will visit again someday. The film crew were fabulous and managed to put together a very good documentary. If you have Foxtel at home, keep an eye out . . . you may catch a glimpse of yet another aspect of life on Annaburroo!

‘Lair of the Killer Crocs’