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Oracle of Gordonvale

I've written 5 published novels, ghostwritten 2 further novels and continue to write fiction and observational articles.


A while ago, I spent about a year in Australia.

We were in the car on the way to Cairns in northern Queensland. We stopped in this place called Gordonvale, about fifteen miles south of Cairns. We needed gas and one of the guys was busting for a leak.’

We got talking to this old geezer in the cafe there.

"G’day" he said. "You young blokes pommies are you?"

We were, and, without any sort of invitation, he sat down and put his hat on the table and assumed the 'Oracle of Gordonvale' role he'd probably mastered years ago.

He told us last week's breaking news. These three lads have gone swimming in the river nearby, the one that had multiple signs saying 'On no account get out of the car and do not swim in the river, this river belongs to the crocodiles.'

The thing was, to tease them into thinking it was okay to swim in the river, there was a rope attached to the branch of big tree right next to the river and so the lads took it in turns to swing themselves into the river.

One of them had just landed in a woop woop splash when the other two saw what looked like a dinosaur-sized croc hit the water from the opposite bank.

Get out of the water, they shouted and pointed over to where the croc hit the water but the croc was now under the water, position and destination unknown, so their mate thought they were full of it.

Then the guy in the water noticed something move behind them. It was two more massive crocs swinging their tails from side to side.

The guy in the water shouted right back at them but their response was only frantic pointing and muffled panic. He then turned round to see a snout just above the waterline about 20 yards away and closing fast.

All manner of bodily fluids escaped him instantly and he only had one option, to join his buddies on the bank.

He put his head down and covered the quickest 20 yards a human has ever achieved in water and, by the time he reached the bank, the other two had seen their own menacing reptiles and were falling over each other to climb up the tree.

Our guy got out of the water and just managed to join them before the three crocs converged on them.

So, you had three guys stranded up a tree, under siege from three pissed off crocs, who were circling them at the bottom of the tree, bumping into each other every so often and pissing each other off as well.

It was like a frenzy. The crocs were waiting for one or all of them to do something stupid and fall out of the tree but the lads stayed right where they were.

One of the crocs even put his front legs on the tree trunk, like he was trying to climb up.

The lads remembered the way they got down to the river earlier. About 20 yards up the bank there was a field and a wire fence. If they could reach that, they were in the clear. Now, they were safe, but crocs are very patient when it comes to food, and they weren’t going anywhere.

The lads tried to distract them by chucking bits of branch and nuts into the river, even at the crocs themselves, but the crocs didn’t budge and, if they needed to get any more pissed off, this managed it.

A few hours went by and the lads started to think how things might play out when they started getting tired. Falling asleep would be avoided at all costs but there comes a time when it just can’t be avoided anymore.

And so it was for the crocs as well. One by one, their eyes closed and the lads saw an opportunity. The noises coming from the crocs were like deep rumbling snoring noises and they’d backed off about ten feet from the tree.

The lads had to assume they were sleeping. If they could just get out of the tree without waking them up, they had a decent start to the fence. It was this or wait to fall asleep and fall out of the branch into some very welcoming mouths.

But then, all three crocs seemed to snap out of it and something took their fancy in the river, so they all charged off down the bank and were gone underwater.

This had to be their chance, and with thud, thud and thud, panic bluster descended the tree. No sooner had they landed and one of them had smiled at another, than the three crocs came belting out of the water as one, straight at them.

The lads took off up the bank, this time covering the quickest uphill twenty yards ever achieved by humankind, expecting to have legs pulled back under the control of the crocs.

Closer and closer to the fence they got and the crocs were gaining, but finally they were there. The fence was higher than they remembered but they flung themselves at it and, with ripped jeans and crocodile breath run up their arses, they managed to get over it and fall in a heap the other side.

The shock of three dinosaurs coming out of the river at them and that twenty-yard dash had them struggling to breathe. When breath was regained, they looked at the crocs the other side of the fence, and all they could manage was a kind of manic nervous laughter. And that soon turned into a nervous taunt of victory.

One of them started shouting at the crocs.

"In your face, in your nobbly face, stupid reptiles."

The crocs sneered scorn back at them from the other side of the fence and didn’t move. One of the lads even got closer to the fence and shouted abuse from the safety of the field, confident that crocs didn't do wire fences.

Then, one of the crocs took off at a rate of knots away from them along the fence line.

"Yeah, run you dozy lizard," said one of them, smelling the cowardice of defeat.

What the lads didn’t know is that the crocs knew this place, every inch of it, and about ten yards along the fence line, there was a croc-sized hole.

The lads were still laughing at the story they would tell later back at the hostel and turned calmly to head across the field. It wasn’t until the croc was five yards from them that they saw it.

Two of the lads took off at speed across the field but the third lad lost his footing at pretty much the most inopportune moment known to humankind.

The croc was on him instantly, and took him by the leg. His mates could only watch him and listen to his screams, being dragged back through the hole in the fence.

They had to maintain their escape plan and their mate was dragged down the slope. His screams turned to bubbles as he was pulled underwater to be tenderised and wedged under something for later.

When they found him, well, some of him, they found out how hungry the croc that took him was. Not much left, definitely a closed casket.

We thought it was one of the finest public service warnings we'd ever heard and it had only taken three schooners of Tooheys Old to hear it.


Underestimate nature at your own peril. This story tries to speak of man’s arrogance to the world, man’s disregard for the world, basically how man is an idiot.

© 2019 Dominic Schunker

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