This Crocodile Wrangling Aussie Has A Lot To Teach Us About Conservation… And Adventure

Adventure is a word that’s thrown around a lot in the travel world. You’ll often hear someone say, “did you see the Instas from my adventure in London?” My knee jerk (or just jerk) reaction is to ask, “Can you have an adventure in London?” You can certainly have a damn good time. But in the Indiana Jones sense of the word, hanging at Big Ben isn’t really too bold.

If you believe that adventure means your life is at risk and there’s a good chance you won’t come home, if you associate it with a rush of blood to the head when your life flashes before your eyes and the impending peril of mother nature rearing her savage head, then a stroll through Trafalgar Square might not qualify.

I’m one of those annoying elitists who see true adventure as standing up to nature, mastering your nerves, and embracing your fears. There are corners of the world where you can experience this type of travel. There are people out there living it. Matt Wright is one of these mad ones — a living embodiment of derring do.

I met Matt Wright — the impossibly handsome star of NatGeo Wild’s The Outback Wrangler — on an insanely hot day in Darwin. He was mid-sentence, explaining crocodile feeding habits to a small crowd of maybe 20 people, when I walked into Crocosaurus Cove (one of the only major tourist attractions in downtown Darwin). Wright stood at ease over a 12-foot crocodile, lurking no more than two-feet away from his well-worn cowboy boots. Wright was explaining what crocs generally eat — feral pigs, smaller crocs, cattle, buffalo, kangaroos, the odd “sorry arsehole” who goes for a swim where they aren’t supposed to. Then, without warning, he tossed a feral hog haunch into the waiting croc’s jaws.

The beast snapped it’s jaws shut, like a friendly dog accepting a treat from its master. The crack of the hog bones echoed through the space. A couple of people let out dramatic gasps and the image of my own leg inside those jaws played in my head. It was terrifying.

At that moment, Wright turned to me, shooting one of those TV smiles. He might as well have said, “Adventure is my middle name, mate.”

The Outback of Australia’s Northern Territory is a vast and extremely remote corner of the world. It’s remoteness cannot be overstated (roughly 3.5 times the size of CA with 1/200th of the people). The roads are sparse and generally empty. The waterways are full of freshwater sharks and saltwater crocodiles. The forests teem with venous brown snakes and ants that draw blood. Float plane or helicopter is by far the most expedient mode of transport, especially if you want to tag along to the sorts of places that Matt Wright visits.