June 27, 2008

A Crocodile Goes into a Bar, so the Drinkers Snap It Up

By Kathy Marks

Not much happens in the Northern Territory town of Noonamah (population 483), so when a crocodile wandered into the pub car park, the drinkers invited it in.

It was a saltwater crocodile, a man-eating species that can grow to 15ft. This one was still a baby at 2ft and appeared friendly, but the folk in the Noonamah Tavern played it safe and taped its mouth.

Sarah Sparre, the barmaid, said: "It's not every day you see something like that. You could say that we were a bit surprised. He was pretty easy-going. But we weren't going to test him out."

The visitor may have escaped from a crocodile farm a few miles away, near Darwin. After entertaining the drinkers, he was taken to the farm by wildlife officers.

Australia's "Top End" is home to about 70,000 salties, which roam the beaches and waterways. They are even found in Darwin harbour, where they are regularly fished out and taken to farms.

Noonamah consists of little more than the pub and a petrol station. But the tavern is known for staging a frog race every year on Melbourne Cup Day, when crowds of punters place bets on the best hoppers.

The pub also once had a buffalo in the bar, for reasons unclear. The owner, Tony Innes, said crocodiles were welcome, provided they were less than 3ft long.

Originally published by By Kathy Marks in Sydney.

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