Matt Wright, star of TV's Outback Wrangler, is Australia's crocodile-catching, helicopter-flying, snake-collecting action man. Prepare for severe career envy...
Most people would want to run a mile from crocodiles. What makes you want to work with them?
I love animals and am committed to protecting them, especially animals which are feared by humans as they are more susceptible to being harmed. I want to educate people about crocodiles so they can learn to understand them and live at harmony with them.
The practical side of my job is to find crocodiles that are causing trouble and relocate them to safer or more suitable ground. A common scenario I often see is when a crocodile is eating cattle. To ensure the cattle owner doesn’t shoot the crocodile, I relocate it to a waterway out of the way of people and livestock. This is the best outcome for the croc, the people and the cattle. Have you had any close encounters with crocodiles?
There are always hairy moments that get your adrenaline running but I’ve never had a life-threatening encounter or an injury from a croc.
Recently, I was catching a crocodile at night time on a flimsy boat that was almost sinking into the water. We managed to catch the croc but in the process of pulling him up onto the boat I thought we were going to go under. The thought of falling into croc-infested water in the dark certainly raised the hairs on my neck.
Those moments definitely play on your mind days afterwards and you think about how lucky you were in that situation that nothing went wrong. You can't let your guard down for a moment. What are your earliest memories of exploring Australia's wilds?
I grew up outdoors and spent every waking morning exploring the bush and finding animals to play with – I had a particular fascination with poisonous snakes.
I remember catching brown snakes and sneaking them home. My mum would find them and do her block! So I started to dig different holes to keep my snakes in so they were always nearby. Whether it was a snake, spider, possum or joey I’d find them and play with them – animals were like my best mates. Your company Outback Floatplane Adventures takes travellers deep into the Northern Territory – what inspired you to take the leap from conservation to tourism?
I wanted to give people a taste of my backyard and for them to see it all in just half a day. You can experience the ocean views from the floatplane, explore the land from above in the chopper, wind through the rainforest on the airboat to meet the crocodiles, and see all types of wildlife from the cruise boat.
People are always blown away because it is like no other landscape on earth. Once people come once they want to come back for more and more – the Outback gets under your skin. Does a person have to be a 'rugged' traveller to enjoy the Outback?
Haha no not at all, you just have to be curious and up for some fun and exploration – it broadens everyone’s horizons. We reckon you're the real life Crocodile Dundee – could you show him a thing or two, or do you still have a few things to learn?
Haha that old parallel! You never stop learning so I’m always open to new experiences and ways of doing things. Experience is the best teacher so I’ll just keep on getting out there and having a crack at life.
All images: Outback Floatplane Adventures