Cairns Characters: Bruce Belcher, tour guide
Owner & Operator of Bruce Belcher's Daintree River Cruises, Bruce Belcher is a croc-loving character at the heart of Far North Queensland's tourism industry. Produced by Isaac Egan, Interview by Simon Crerar.
YOU wouldn't get too close to an elephant says Bruce, so why do people demonise crocodiles? The legendary Daintree River guide blames the media.
I’ve been a tour guide on the Daintree River for 24 years. I’ve worked for other people, but we became established as a family business in 1995. I’ve never looked back. Last year was the busiest on record, this year’s fallen back a little but we anticipated it will keep on being busy until Christmas.
What’s the fascination? Crocodiles, crocodiles and more crocodiles! We get the odd Twitcher from England wanting to see the birds, but usually he gets stuck in the back seat. Most people want to see crocs.
It’s not a unique river, it’s very typical. The Daintree is the closest to Cairns so we get a lot of visitors. The freshwater crocs don’t occur here, the mountains are so close to the sea that the water is so cold.
Cairns Characters: Please enjoy our profiles of the hidden heroes keeping Cairns moving, focusing on the unique personalities that make living here such as stimulating experience
The animal is the same species across Northern Australia. Same size, same animal. The ranger once told me he saw one that was five and a half metres, but it would be a freak.
This is the “crocodile infested” Daintree. It annoys me. In fact it’s not infested. We have a low density population, that’s an official statement. 1.33 adult crocodiles per square kilometre. You’ve got to respect the crocs, I won’t go in the water alone. I don’t have any great fear of them, but I respect them.
An animal will try and frighten you to get away. I just don’t see them as dangerous. Respect the parameters and you’ll stay safe.
What happened to Fat Albert? We got a call one night and were told that he’d been shot, dragged out of the water and buried in a hole. The motivation? Fear? Most likely a born & bred old local acting on behalf of a family who were afraid.
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Old man of the Daintree: What Bruce Belcher doesn't know about crocodiles isn't worth knowing.