Goat herd swims to safety across croc infested NT river

GOAT BOAT: Family and friends joined forces to help outback NT cattle station owners herd their goats across a crocodile infested Roper River. Picture: supplied.
GOAT BOAT: Family and friends joined forces to help outback NT cattle station owners herd their goats across a crocodile infested Roper River. Picture: supplied.

A marooned herd of 300 goats was successfully swum across a crocodile infested river to escape rising floodwaters yesterday.

The herd of boer goats was stuck on an island in the Roper River on the sprawling Big River Station, about 250km east of Katherine.

Station owner Daniel Tapp said recent monsoonal rain and the rising level of the Roper River forced him to take action.

“We have never done anything like it before, goats are very reluctant swimmers,” Mr Tapp said.

He called on neighbours and friends to help with the risky rescue mission, using two fishing boats and several people dedicated to keep a lookout for crocs over the four hours of the operation.

“It was not the main channel of the Roper but part of it and was about 80 metres wide, quite deep and flowing very fast in the middle.

“The water was very muddy because of the wet so it would have been hard to see the crocs unless they were on the surface.

“We have had some very big ones around here and a neighbour had seen one in the area a few days ago so we were pretty cautious.”

Big River Station, primarily a cattle producer, run the boer goats to supply a fresh meat market in Darwin particularly for Greek Easter celebrations.

“They were stuck on the wrong side of the river, a lot of that country goes under during the wet and the forecast was for more monsoon rain,” Mr Tapp said.

“Some of them we swum over, some of them – mostly the little ones – we caught and tied them up to ferry them over in the fishing boats.

“We used hessian fences to funnel them down to the water where the dogs were important.

“It was a bit of everything but eventually we got them all across, it’s not something I’d like to have to do every day.”

Daniel’s mother, June, was waiting on the other the side of the Roper with cooked damper and they rounded out the day in bush style with an Esky full of drinks.

“Mostly we talked about the crocs in the river that we couldn’t see, and wondered how close they were,” Mr Tapp said.

His wife Shannon said she was grateful for the help of family and friends.

“I really really appreciated my neighbours and family dropping everything and rushing out for what ended up a pretty hard and messy job,” she said.