Koorana Crocodile Farm is actually an approved conservation farm which opened in 1981 at 65 Savages Road in Coowonga, on the Capricorn Coast of Central Queensland, Australia. To start the farm the founders needed crocodiles so initially they captured crocodiles from the wild that were proving a danger to people. (I remember a story about a crocodile that was using the sprinklers on a golf course for its water). The alternative for ‘rogue’ crocodiles was euthanasia during the 20 years that they collected crocodiles to establish their breeding program. The farms population has grown from only 3 or 4 crocodiles to approximately 3000.
What to expect at the farm
The farm is open every day from 10am to 3pm (except Christmas Day) and during opening hours they run two 90 minute information tours daily (10.30am and 1pm start times) commencing with a very informative talk in the restaurant area followed by a tour of the farm. If you are lucky enough to visit during hatching season you may even get to see a baby crocodile or hatchling. School and group tours are welcome but bookings for large groups are essential to avoid disappointment. The tour guides are passionate about what they do at the farm with education and preservation being high priorities. You get a history lesson surrounded by crocodile skins mounted on the ceilings and walls as well as the products of their leather.
As well as the tours you can opt to have lunch as we did in the restaurant between 1pm and 2pm. Demand is high so book your seat early and we all agreed that crocodile kebab tastes really good! Also on sale are a variety of products made from the high quality leather produced at Koorana Crocodile Farm including ladies handbags, hats for adults, diary covers, mens wallets, purses for ladies, business/bank card wallets and adult belts. Our children all chose a small piece of crocodile leather as their souvenirs along with some fun crocodile temporary tattoos.
It is important to note here that, “Koorana does not receive any crocodiles from the wild at all anymore and fulfils the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) and CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) criteria for a self-contained breeding farm”.
Facts about crocodile leather at Koorana:
- ALL the crocodile leather products on sale in the farm shop come from the Koorana crocodiles not the wild
- Saltwater crocodile skin not only makes the best in the world but it is also one of the most durable
- Saltwater crocodile leather will outlast other leathers (given normal use and care of course)
*You may or may not be allowed to import leather products into your country of origin so please check with your customs before purchasing crocodile leather items.
The tour includes video footage of crocodile capture, information about the crocodiles caught from the wild in the early years, interesting facts about the difficulties of breeding crocodiles in a captive environment, history of the farm and crocodiles in Australia. A large piece of crocodile skin is passed around for guests to touch – it is amazing how strong and heavy it is. You also get to feel how sharp the ridge is, a major element to their armour!
The tour includes getting to visit some of the residents in their pens with facts about their age, weight and of course their story whether they were captured or bred at the farm. The crocodiles are fed as this is one way to engage them with their audience and in some cases make us all jump. One occasion a chicken was thrown in to the water and just as it hit the surface a massive set of jaws with those super sharp teeth snapped out of the water with a huge splash and took the chicken whole with no bother to disappear under the water again to be almost invisible!
A major highlight of the tour for both young and old is the opportunity to hold a juvenile crocodile (1 to 3 years old) – just make sure you have someone else lined up to take your photo as you want to record that experience for the future. My children generally have no fear, waited patiently for their turn and loved holding the crocodile (oh and yes the jaws are taped shut for safety as you may be able to see in the photo).
During the tour you will learn even more about the crocodiles including how fussy they can be about choosing a mate (sadly sometimes the female is killed by the male). You will also learn about how crocodiles make great parents and that certain temperatures at a critical point in development will determine whether the baby crocodiles will be male or female. So once the eggs are harvested (with great care as the mothers are understandably super protective of their nests) they are stored in temperature controlled incubators and carefully monitored. As mentioned previously if you visit during breeding season (February to April) you may also be lucky enough to view a baby crocodile hatching as they hatch them out during tours (subject to availability).
Admission prices were very reasonable with funds contributing to the running costs of the farm. At the time of writing (2015) entry costs were $30 AUD for adults with discounts for children under 16 at $13 AUD and disabled/aged pensioner/students $25 (under 3’s are Free). Group and school bookings also get a discount (minimum number applies and bookings for large groups is essential). When booking as an educational group try and book at least 2 weeks in advance and remember to ask for educational worksheets and activities for both teachers and students catering from pre-school to university age.
Spotlight Evening Tour
Not available the last time we visited (took all our visitors there when we lived in Gladstone as it was only a 90 minute drive and made a great day trip as well as visiting with our homeschool group) are the new spotlight tours where you can let the team host your next work, Christmas or birthday party. Tours are 3 to 6 hours long, include a 3 to 5 course meal, fully guided farm ‘torchlight tour’ and hands on experience with a 1 to 3 year old crocodile all included. Minimum number required of 20 people per booking so get some friends or colleagues together and enjoy all that the Koorana Crocodile Farm experience has to offer.
Don’t forget the insect repellent for whatever it was that found us to be so tasty as the first time we were unprepared!
For more information and contact details check out their website with some fabulous images at www.koorana.com.au