A 19-year-old man has survived a crocodile attack in the Douglas Daly region of the Top End, the Northern Territory Health Department says.
Katherine man Peter Rowsell told the ABC he was camping about 15 metres from Dorisvale crossing, southwest of Darwin, when he woke to something “shaking” at his right foot early on Anzac Day.
“I was down at Dorisvale, and at about 4:30 this morning, I was sleeping in a mozzie net, and … I woke up and there was something shaking my foot, and I woke up and had a look and it was three to four metres long,” Mr Rowsell said.
He said the crocodile let go of his foot after he struck the reptile on its head “once or twice” with his hand.
He was not sure whether the reptile had been a saltwater or freshwater crocodile.
Mr Rowsell said his sister and her partner had been sleeping in the tray of a ute when they heard his screams, and the party left the site about 5:00am for Katherine hospital.
He said he had puncture wounds and bruising, and was “still a bit sore”.
Mr Rowsell was being treated with IV antibiotics, which the health department said was standard for crocodile bites.
The man’s parents travelled back to the site to retrieve the camping gear, before returning to Katherine.
Jamie Rowsell, another sister who was not on the trip, said her brother was “bloody lucky” and was able to walk despite his injuries.
Crocodile specialist and Charles Darwin University’s Senior Research Associate Adam Britton said Mr Rowsell was camping too close to the water.
“If he’s camping 15 metres from the water, that is too close. And the official recommendation with croc-wise is 50 metres minimum,” he said.
“People break the 50-metre rule all the time. I mean I’ve done it myself in the past, but I don’t think I’d do it today, that’s for sure.
“Crocodiles are inherently curious animals, they really quite like to check things out. Sometimes that means they’re hungry and they want to check out what the food is, and sometimes they just want to have a stickybeak. Unfortunately that means you’re potentially going to get bitten.”