Monster croc makes a splash at wildlife park

Shrek this out

A 4.6-metre crocodile is the new addition to the animal kingdom at the Billabong Koala Wildlife Park in Port Macquarie.

Through an underwater glass panel, visitors will be able to view the 50-year-old saltie named Shrek. Other vantage points include a second-storey viewing area overlooking the pool.

Shrek's new home imitates his habitat in the Top End with an artificial rock wall, a 3.5-metre waterfall and sand- and rock-basking areas. Keepers are preparing the reptile for feeding demonstrations, with whole chicken or venison chunks on the menu.

See billabongkoala.com.au.

PNG rides tourism wave

From the coral atolls in East New Britain to Sero Cove near Port Moresby, surfing in Papua New Guinea, with its uncrowded breaks and pristine waters, attracts about 1200 visitors each year.

Keeping watch on the burgeoning industry attracting predominantly Australians and Japanese is the Surfing Association of Papua New Guinea, which seeks to protect coastal environments and help locals derive economic benefits.

Established 26 years ago, it comprises 10 affiliated surf clubs, with a membership of 500 locals and about 30 expatriates.

The grassroots approach includes a levy of $10 a day for each visiting surfer, returned to the local communities and invested at surf locations.

The association's president, Andrew Abel, says its ultimate aim is to have the surf-management plan enshrined in law. "[It's] to ensure we do not end up like other surfing nations around the world who have the 'cart before the horse', so to speak," he says.

In New Ireland Province, close to the town of Kavieng, Nusa Island Retreat has low-impact accommodation and transports surfers to islands and their breaks. The retreat limits the number of surfers at any one time.

While Australian surfer Marty Brown discovered the uncrowded waves of PNG in 2005, he also saw the lack of resources in the local surfing villages. Brown says it was both "cool and confronting" to meet locals who had a shared love of surfing but were on "splinters", makeshift boards made of leftover wood from dug-out canoes, given he had unused boards at home in his garage.

Alongside the surfing association, Brown has launched a drive to encourage Australian surfers to donate old boards and equipment. The association will ship, repair and distribute the equipment to key surfing areas, including Vanimo, Kavieng, Wewak, Madang, Port Moresby, Manus and Bougainville. Half of the boards will have pink tips and be given to budding local female surfers.

For more information, email pngsurfdonation@hotmail.com, or see papuanewguinea.travel.

Driven to the Alto-natives

Australia's first carbon-neutral hotel, the Alto on Bourke, has added to its green credentials with the introduction of car-share service GoGet.

It costs $25 for guests to join on the spot for access to the hotel's on-site electric car, "Sparky", and 30 others, including petrol-fuelled, available in Melbourne's city centre. If Sparky is in use, other cars are available within two blocks. The cars are available 24 hours. See altohotel.com.au.

Maasai athletes strut stuff

Maasai warriors-turned-athletes competed in the first Maasai Olympics in Kenya last month with a view to take lion killing out of their culture and replace it with competitive sports.

Beneath Mount Kilimanjaro, four teams of 4000 athletes from rival warrior manyattas (villages) in the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem took part. The events, based on traditional warrior skills, included the five track-and-field disciplines of 200-metre sprint, 5000-metre run; spear throwing (javelin), shot put (a rungu club) and high jump. The event is hosted by the Maasailand Preservation Trust and the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust.

Sound advice in any language

Emergency contacts, tipping advice, an audio phrase book in 24 languages and the top travel scams are included in a new app by Travel Insurance Direct.

For the uninitiated, the online business says the most popular overseas scams include repair bills from jet-ski operators in Phuket and hotels being renamed to sound similar to more salubrious, successful establishments in Vietnam. Naturally, the app includes access to a claim report upon return.

Send news items to smarttraveller@fairfax.com.au.

The story Monster croc makes a splash at wildlife park first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop