A man who spent more than 20 hours lost in crocodile-infested mangroves overnight sought refuge in a tree to avoid contact with any hungry reptiles.
Brian Duncan, 60, was reported missing on Wednesday afternoon when he failed to return from an afternoon walk into mangroves near Chinaman Creek in Cairns’ industrial area.
“I went out to see if I could find somewhere to put crab-pot baits in — and I did, there’s heaps of spots,” Mr Duncan said after being rescued on Thursday.
Tweet: @Mark_Rigby Hugs and elation as a 60-year-old man who spent the night lost in a crocodile infested creek is reunited with his family
“But just as I turned around to come back the tide was racing in.”
Instead of making a dash for safety, the keen crabber decided to be “crocwise” and stay put.
“I thought ‘well I’m not walking through knee-deep water [there are] too many crocs around’, so I went up a tree and spent the night,” he said.
“I found a comfy tree that leaned back on an angle … it was a big tree.”
Mr Duncan said while he waited out the night he knew his family would be worried, but there was little he could do without risking an encounter with a crocodile.
“I thought about them but I couldn’t ring anyone because my phone went flat,” he said.
Rescue helicopter failed to spot stranded man
Cairns police Acting Senior Sergeant Gil Dyett said a number of police, water police, SES staff and a helicopter had been involved in the search for Mr Duncan.
“I think once the adrenaline settles he’ll realise how lucky he is,” Acting Senior Sergeant Dyett said.
“But I think he’ll be more distressed about the concern he’s put his family through.”
He said police let Mr Duncan use an SES telephone to speak with his son prior to being reunited in person.
“I think there was a couple of expletives, you know, it’s a bit … we won’t go into that,” he said, laughing.
“He’s fine, he’s got a few sandfly bites but other than that he’s fine and he’s got a story to tell.”
Mr Duncan was reunited with his family nearly 20 hours after he walked in, but his rescue was not without its challenges.
The helicopter that was part of the search operation failed to spot him even though he made efforts to walk into clearings in the mangrove forest.
“Just as I started to come back [this morning] the helicopter flew overhead,” Mr Duncan said.
“I thought I’d go to the clearing where he could see me but he went straight over the top of me.
“I was thinking ‘you beauty!’ And then I was thinking that he should have gone to SpecSavers.”
Mr Duncan said he was thankful the sandfly bites he received overnight were the greatest thing concerning him.
He said despite the abundance of prime crab-pot spots he identified on his overnight adventure, he would not venture back into the mangroves and would stick to his tried and tested spots in the future.