Are There Crocodile-Infested Lakes in New South Wales?

Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)
© Danny Ye/Shutterstock.com

Written by Thomas Godwin

Published: November 24, 2023

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To a knowledge enthusiast delving into the natural habitats of Australia, the idea of crocodiles in New South Wales is no surprise. After all, it’s Australia, and who hasn’t seen Crocodile Dundee? There are between 100,000 and 200,000 saltwater crocodiles populating the island continent, and an additional 100,000 freshwater crocodiles.

In other words, Australia is synonymous with crocodiles, whether you’re a tourist stepping foot onto the continent for the first time or watching a movie in which Australia is prominent. However, It’s important to keep climate in mind. Crocodiles are reptiles, and although cold weather is survivable, It’s certainly not their preference.

Areas that experience longer and colder winters rarely have crocodiles in them. The same is true of alligators in America. The farther north you travel, the fewer the alligators. Then there are the consequences of animal transportation, migration, and domestication, all of which create interesting new dynamics.

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Are There Crocodiles In New South Wales?

Are There Crocodiles In New South Wales?

Areas that experience longer and colder winters rarely have crocodiles in them.

©Naypong Studio/Shutterstock.com

The immediate answer is no; there are no crocodiles in New South Wales. At least, we base that answer on the long-held understanding that New South Wales doesn’t feature a climate that is welcoming to crocodiles.

There are rare instances of crocodiles popping up in the northern parts of New South Wales. But, they are just that, rare instances. Mostly, it’s simply too cold in New South Wales for crocodiles to live, eat, and reproduce comfortably. That’s not to say they cannot migrate there, especially with recent warming trends in the climate.

The warmer it becomes in New South Wales, the better the odds that some crocodiles will pack up and head south. They are considered invasive throughout New South Wales; however, much in the same way, pythons are invasive to Florida. The southern boundary for crocodiles is mostly Boyne River, which is located in Queensland.

Animal transportation is often responsible for the sudden appearance of invasive species, whether done professionally or by someone thinking a baby crocodile will make a great pet (stranger things happen all the time). In this case, all of the above are probable contributing factors.

Angourie Sighting

Angourie is a small village in Australia, along the coast and a few miles south of Yambra in New South Wales. Though there are supposedly no crocodiles in New South Wales, Angourie is one of the places in the state where crocodile sightings occurred. Though it’s an official sighting, there is no existing confirmation, thanks to reporting in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Umina Crocodile

The Umina crocodile is a prime example of irresponsible pet ownership. It’s an excellent example of why human beings should stop trying to capture and domesticate wild crocodiles. This particular crocodile was a juvenile wandering around in someone’s backyard. This was a freshwater crocodile, the far less dangerous and smaller cousin of the saltwater crocodile.

Hector

Hector the crocodile was a traveling circus crocodile, so it’s not technically a crocodile native to New South Wales. The fact that no one has seen Hector since a flood struck the area in 1974 leads us to a much more recent sighting by residents of Gold Coast.

Sporadic crocodile sightings in the Wilson River are considered potential descendants of Hector, the crocodile escapee.

The Skinned Crocodile

In July 2019, Brent Lodge found a crocodile in the Murray River, where no known crocodiles exist. However, the crocodile was missing its skin, suggesting it was the victim of a poacher, an illegal wildlife trade in Australia.

Skinning crocodiles is illegal, and the croc likely died far to the north of Brent Lodge. However, it’s just one of those rare instances of crocodiles in New South Wales that it’s worth mentioning.

Crocodiles In Australia

Crocodiles In Australia

Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and Queensland are home to freshwater crocodiles.

©Leonardo Gonzalez/Shutterstock.com

Though there are no crocodiles in New South Wales, at least none native to that area, there are plenty of them throughout Australia. The entire northern coast of Australia is the stomping ground of the saltwater crocodile, along with Western Australia, from Broom northward.

Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and Queensland are home to freshwater crocodiles, a separate and smaller cousin to the saltwater crocodile. If crocodiles appear in New South Wales, it’s an aberration and not representative of the crocodile’s typical habitat on the continent.

Crocodiles, like most reptiles, prefer warmer environments with mild winters. Saltwater crocodiles are the ones people see the most in documentaries and movies since they are easily the most aggressive. Freshwater crocodiles rarely attack or come into contact with humans, avoiding them unless a human corners or threatens them.

The crocodile population is bouncing back in Australia since hunting them is largely against the law. Hunting is primarily responsible for their near extinction in years past.

Prehistoric Crocodiles in New South Wales

Scientists believe crocodiles were once a thriving species in New South Wales, thanks to several fossil findings. One such finding was on Lightning Ridge. The fossil belongs to Isisfordia, an extinct ancestor to the modern-day crocodile. This fossil proves that crocodiles in New South Wales were a thing in the distant past, roughly 100 million years ago.

The fossil of the prehistoric crocodile from Lightning Ridge is far more spectacular than just its location. It’s a rare and beautiful find because it’s encased in opal. Pretty fossils aside, it’s proof that crocodiles and New South Wales were very familiar with each other in the past.

Final Thoughts

If you’re traveling to Australia shortly, don’t expect to find crocodiles in New South Wales. There are a lot of places throughout Australia to see crocodiles if you’re brave enough. Fortunately, for residents of New South Wales, crocodile sightings are rare and generally applicable to the past and prehistoric times only.

There are a lot of sights to see and things to do in New South Wales and southern parts of Australia. Spotting crocodiles isn’t one of them.


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About the Author

Thomas is a freelance writer with an affinity for the great outdoors and Doberman Pinschers. When he's not sitting behind the computer, pounding out stories on black bears and reindeer, he's spending time with his family, two Dobermans (Ares and Athena), and a Ragdoll cat named Heimdal. He also tends his Appleyard Ducks and a variety of overly curious and occasionally vexatious chickens.

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