Ashley Sala spent his birthday fishing at Ninds Creek, in the river mouth at Innisfail, 55 miles south of Cairns, when he thought he’d caught a fish.
“I threw my line out to catch a barra for my birthday and I ended up catching a croc,” Mr Sala said.
“I thought I’d caught my one-metre barra. I was so happy, I was yahooing and carrying on.
“Twenty minutes later after fighting it I brought it to the surface and when the moon came out from behind the clouds I realised it was a croc tangled up in my fishing line.”
Mr Sala realised the crocodile – which he was “starting to feel sorry for” – would almost certainly drown if the line wasn’t untangled. And so, maddened at the frequency with which the crocodiles were stealing his bait, he picked up the reptile, taped its jaws together, and drove it to the house of his local councillor to complain about the crocodile population.
The only problem was that the councillor, Mark Nolan, also in charge of the county’s crocodiles, was asleep.
“I went around to Mark Nolan’s house because I know where he lives,” Mr Sala said. “I was a bit hyped up and shouldn’t have been there trying to wake him up but I was sick of going fishing and having this problem with crocodiles.”
So the fisherman then decided to take the crocodile home for the night until it could be taken to a wildlife park. His unimpressed girlfriend made the pair sleep in an empty “donga” – cabin – at his family’s caravan park.
“I sat on the top bunk and had a few birthday beers by myself and watched the croc on the floor until I fell asleep,” he explained.
His councillor later praised Mr Sala’s care of the animal, comparing him favourably to Crocodile Dundee actor Paul Hogan.
“Paul Hogan’s got nothing on Ashley Sala,” he said. “Paul Hogan never slept with a saltie. Ashley has, and I witnessed it.
“So I give Ashley a 10 out of 10 for the way he cared for the reptile during the night and now it’s been relocated and it’s safely back in a crocodile farm.”
Brave hunter, but, but be careful