Crocodile hunting memories

Bodil Leitch, above, was a crocodile hunter in the early 1970s.

Bodil Leitch, crocodile hunter, early 1970s.

When she moves into Gulf Rise retirement village soon, Swedish-born Bodil Leitch will have many exciting stories to share with fellow residents – in particular, tales from the many months she spent crocodile hunting in northern Queensland.

In 1971, at the age of 22, Bodil arrived in Queensland with a friend and ended up in Cairns just before the wet season. The pair met a group who were hunting crocodiles for their skins and travelled north with them.

At this stage, Bodil had never seen either a gun, or a crocodile but before they headed up north, she was given a little preparation in the form of shooting beer cans.

Spending two months camping in the bush in 40°C heat, combined with all night crocodile hunts and fishing for barramundi was something she says she relished and ended up returning to for around 18 months.

She shot a number of crocodiles in that time, and says although the crocodiles could be very large, the target is very small – the 2cm x 2cm area between the eyes – so it was a skilful, as well as at times dangerous, job.

Bodil’s hunting expeditions came to an abrupt end when she contracted dysentery from infected water and was advised not to return to the bush, on medical grounds. This was not long before the practice of shooting wild crocodiles for the skin trade in Queensland was made illegal, in 1973.

Bodil returned to Europe, but went on to marry an Australian and live in Melbourne. The couple moved to New Zealand for work in 1985 and have been here ever since.

Bodil says she is looking forward to moving into Gulf Rise, as she has friends in Orewa and loves the area.


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