The Big Crocodiles Of Queensland

The big crocodile in Normanton
Krys The Savannah King in Normanton (Source: Creative Commons)

If you love the Big Things of Australia, you may consider visiting the Big Crocodiles. One Big Crocodile is located in Wangetti, a small coastal town in Shire of Douglas, Queensland. The 26ft long sculpture, also known as Big Ted, was built on Hartley’s Creek Adventures crocodile farm in 1984.  The second Big Crocodile was sculpted in 1996 in Normanton, also another small coastal town in Shire of Carpentaria, Queensland. The sculpture was named ‘Krys the Savannah King’ and is also the largest of the three sculptures, measuring 28ft long. The third one, the smallest of the three, was sculpted in 2001 and is located in Daintree in the Shire of Douglas, Queensland.

The story of the Big Crocodile sculptures

Northern Australia, Queensland in particular, was a hive of crocodile hunting during the 1950s. One Polish immigrant couple was famous for their hunting skills and successes. The couple, Ron and Krystina Pawlowski, were an enviable team of crocodile hunters. 

The reptiles’ skin was traded for money, and a good catch always brought home some good returns. Mrs. Pawlowski had reportedly hunted at least 10,000 crocodiles in her 15-year-long hunting career. She was so good with the rifle that it is rumoured that she only missed three times while hunting. 

The Big Crocodile in Wangetti
The Big Crocodile in Wangetti. Source: Postie notes

One day, a humongous crocodile crept up to the couple’s daughter while the family was out for their routine hunt. Mrs. Pawlowski quickly picked up her riffle and aimed at the giant beast. She fired a single shot, which landed under the crocodile’s eye, killing it instantly and eventually saving the life of her daughter, Barbra.

News about the killing of the most sought-after reptile with a single shot, quickly spread across the town, making the brave immigrant instantly famous. She immediately became an international sensation, bagging the Guinness Book of Records for killing the crocodile.

Many people were amazed at how she would manage to keep her manicured nails with red polish and a matching lipstick on check with the kind of job she did. Her skinning skills were also remarkable. She would skin the saltwater reptiles faster than anyone else. 

Mrs. Pawlowski’s famous shot did not make her proud for too long. She later regretted killing the indigenous species. In 1956, Australia put up its first crocodile conservation farm in Karumba, and the famous hunting couple became the early crocodile conservationists of the project. The farm was a breeding place for crocodile eggs collected from the field to preserve the species.

The big crocodile head in Daintree
The big crocodile head in Daintree. Source: Postie notes

Ron Pawlowski took it upon himself to spread the word about crocodile protection and conservation. He toured Australia and as far as the U.S. and even addressed the United Nations assembly about his cause. However, under the leadership of Joh Bjelke-Petersen, then-Premier in 1967, Queensland was not ready to quit crocodile hunting.

Due to the increasing frustrations and campaigns against Ron’s cause, he abandoned the crocodile farm in 1968 after killing 140 of the species but was still committed to protecting the reptiles. In 1972, he was invited by the House of Representatives to prove the severity the extinction of the saltwater reptile.

There is a lesser known big crocodile in Townsvile.
There is a lesser known big crocodile in Townsville. Source: Postie notes

The population had declined by 98 percent in almost two decades. After that, the Queensland government followed Ron’s recommendation on totally banning crocodile hunting. 

What followed was the construction of the three Big Crocodiles of Australia in Queensland. Big Ted and Krys the Savannah King are the closest replica of the massive crocodile in size. The three small towns of Daintree, Wangetti and Normanton are home to salty water crocodiles and have become major tourist attractions in the region. 

You may be interested in our article on the big crab.

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