Blood drain account as follows. In the late 1800 an
abattoir was constructed on the banks of Cambridge gulf
at Wyndem Westers Australia. The abattoir was constructed
of wrought iron sheds with concrete floors. Cattle were
brought from the dusty planes of the Kimberley plateau
to the abattoir for slaughter and transportation to
Perth. Cattle were slaughtered and their carcass was
hung on shark steel hooks suspended from the roof by
As the workers carved up the carcasses the blood from
the slaughtered animals drained onto the concrete floor.
The sickening blood drained thru grooves in the floor
to exit the old shed into clay pipes. These pipes inturn
drained the blood into an adjacent creek.
The creek wound its way thru the mangroves into the
muddy tepid waters of Cambridge Gulf. Cambridge gulf
is a massive space of water, it contains many species
of tropical animals including sharks, barramundi and
trevally and most feared of all the saltwater crocodile.
The northern Australia tides are some of the greatest
in the world with the tide high and lows being in excess
of 30 feet. When the Cambridge gulf tide rose to its
highest point it would flood the creek that was fed
the blood and offal from the abattoir. The blood and
fat and offal attracted all manner of predatory beasts.
Barramundi, huge Trevally and Turrum would come up the
flooded creek and gorge themselves on the available
food. Bait fish first. Birds would also flock to the
feast and swoop the feeding fish and grab struggling
fish with sharp talons.
The vibration and stench of the whole scene attracted
the sharks, as they would come and feed furiously on
the fish. Such a diversity of animals feeding attracted
Australias most dangerous of predators, the saltwater
Crocodiles came in numbers of up to a hundred or more
to feed. Using their superior senses of navigation in
nil visibility water, the reptiles attacked fish and
bird alike. The bloodstained creek that became a total
feeding frenzy became known as the blood drain.
Abattoir workers were also attracted to the Blood Drain,
they would come to watch the feeding frenzy of fish,
birds, sharks and crocodiles; and lunch and smoko breaks
were spent watching the amazing spectacle.
Over the years numerous people went missing around the
blood drain, without doubt being taken by crocodiles.
the largest crocodile ever filmed in Australia,
the legend man eater "Fergus"
filmed from David's cage in the Blood Drain,
the crocodile waited in the mud and ambushed
David, The attack came close to claiming
cage was empty of water until the tide rose
and filled the Blood Drain with warm muddy
putrid water. The rifle was of no use against
the spiders, the sea snake, the Dendy fever,
the exhaustion or the surprise ambush attack
of an 18 foot croc".
the years, a legend developed.
It was told by the old folk in town that a huge crocodile
known as Fergus came into the blood drain. When he arrived
the other crocodile would panic and even leave the water
and scramble into the mangroves to get away from the
monster. It was legend Fergus was responsible for the
fatal attacks on people over the years.
In late 1970 the abattoirs were closed. While researching
location for the filming of "Crocodile man
David interview an old croc shooter based in Windom,
A man called Tex Bowman.
Tex used to hunt crocodiles for their skins in the early
1900s. Tex informed David that he believed "Old
Fergus was still alive and living in Cambridge
Gulf not far from the old blood drain.
Tex told David that Fergus had eluded shooters for many
years and only came close to shore at night. Tex believed
Fergus was probably the largest surviving crocodile
in Australia and that if David was prepared to put a
filming cage into the Blood Drain and attach baits to
the cage and spend many nights in the cage he may eventually
film the largest croc in Australia and film a true man-eater.
In 1985 David decided to try and film Fergus and a cage
was built of aluminium mesh and placed at the height
watermark in the old creek know as the blood drain.
The cage was placed at the high water mark in the old
creek, known as the Blood Drain. Baits were tied to
the outside of the cage with powerful lights attached
both inside and outside for night filming. David gained
the services of an old man named Tex Bowman. Tex was
75 years old at the time and in his younger days he
was a crocodile shooter. He had seen Fergus and had
tried to kill the giant crocodile on a number of occasions
after fatal attacks near Wyndem.
The Wyndem police had, in the past, hired Tex to shoot
large crocodiles when people went missing or their remains
revealed a fatal crocodile attack had taken place. Most
people, including the police, believed that Fergus from
the Blood Drain was responsible for the fatal attacks,
because Fergus was by far the largest and most aggressive
crocodile in the whole area.
However, the cunning crocodile was never killed. Tex
believed the old crocodile was still alive and living
in the vicinity. He had seen the huge croc while fishing
at night for barramundi near the entrance of the Blood
Drain. Tex said, The old man eater is still alive,
if you bait up long enough , Fergus will come, but he
will only come in the darkness, but god knows what he
will do to your flimsy cage. It was decided that
the cage should be placed in the Blood Drain and be
baited to get the crocodiles used to the cage. When
Fergus began feeding off the cage David would get into
the cage and try and achieve the footage he so wanted.
For two months,Tex baited the cage, each night numerous
crocodiles tore off the baits , the next morning Tex
would rebait the cage at low tide when it was safe to
do so .
At night, Tex would sit on the bank and watch for the
huge head of Fergus to arrive, but the only crocs that
came to feed were small to medium sized animals, 8 to
12 feet in length. Then, after two months, Tex caught
sight of a very large crocodile at the entrance of the
blood drain, all the other crocodiles disappeared in
seconds at the arrival of this monster croc. The beast
stayed only a few seconds and vanished. The next day
,Tex phoned David in Sydney and said Last night
a large croc came, I think it was Fergus , I didnt
get a good look at him in the darkness but he left his
footprints in the mud around the cage, it is time you
got in your cage, he will come back.
David gathered his cameras and went to Wyndem the next
David met with Tex and discussed the dangers of filming
in the Blood Drain. Text said, What will you do
if Fergus tears open you aluminium cage? David
answered, I have a 12 gauge shotgun power head
that will work underwater and a 30/30 rifle. I will
The next night David prepard himself for his first night
in the cage. Because Wyndem is a small town the word
got around about old Tex and David trying to lure old
Fergus to a filming cage in the Blood Drain. Word also
got around that David was carrying a 12 gauge powerhead.
This weaopon was capable of killing Fergus should David
find himself in the water with the monster croc.
David's 30/30 rifle would be of little use if David
was to be in the water. The powerhead was designed for
killing sharks, it was relatively small in size and
could be used at close range with devorstating results.
However, power heads were illegal weapons in Western
Australia , so the police requested David come to the
police station. Once there, the police confiscated the
power head, explaining their reasons. David complained
bitterly that he was going to be alone in a mesh cage,
at night, filming crocodiles and the power head was
his last source of defence should the crocs destroy
his cage. The police took the weapon anyway.
That first night, David walked across the mud that was
stained from over a hundred years of blood from the
slaughter sheds, he carried his 30/30 rifle (as seen
in the blood drain photo) he also had a large knife
strapped to his chest for cutting ropes and his 16MM
bolex movie cameras. He then entered the cage for the
first night of filming. David felt vulnerable without
his power head weapon but at the same time excited at
the prospect of filming a legend, Fergus.
His excitement soon turned to apprehension. The cage
had numerous holes drilled in the frame supports to
reduce its weight. During the months the cage had sat
in the Blood Drain, large mangrove spiders had made
the cage their home. As David watched the tide rise
in the cage, he was shocked to see the water slowly
flush out the spiders, the spiders came out of the frame
holes to crawl all over the mesh around Davids
torso and head. David is not a fan of spiders and as
time went on became more and more concerned these large
spiders would attack his face.
The next problem was the huge temperature changes, the
air temperature was in the 40s but the tidal waters
of Cambridge gulf were surprisingly cold with the muddy
water flooding the cage being only 17 to 19 degrees.
As the water rose in the cage, David experienced an
almost 20 degree difference in temperature. This huge
temperature difference caused David to suffer from both
heat and cold exhaustion, dropping his immune system
and causing exhaustion.
As soon as darkness enveloped the cage, the crocodiles
came to feed, David was happy to gain valuable footage
of the crocodiles feeding but was not happy as Fergus
did not turn up. Because of the extreme discomfort he
was suffering, he hoped that Fergus would come the first
night and he would gain the footage he wanted and not
have to endure any more nights in the spider filled
cage. The rotting maggot ridden baits attached to the
cage were also almost too much to endure at such close
However, Fergus had not lived so long by being impatient,
the huge croc knew there was a man in the cage, the,
Fergus knew men could be dangerous. Fergus was most
probably responsible for the fatal attacks around Wyndem
over the years, but he only attacked when his prey was
unprotected. The cage may have seemed strange to the
old crocodile, he needed to watch the situation for
a while before he would approach the cage.
Night after night, David became more and more exhausted,
night after night David became sick from the temperature
changes on his body and the smell of rotting baits made
it impossible for him to eat. On the seventh night,
he contracted Dendy fever, the constant mosquito attacks
to his face and neck, had delivered the virus. He become
exhausted and developed a chest infection that caused
him to cough on a continual basis.
On the ninth night the moon was full and the tide higher
than David had anticipated, the water rose to within
inches of the top of the cage, this forced David to
open the hatch and literally stick his head out the
top of the cage to breathe. This was incredibly dangerous
with numerous crocodiles feeding on the baits attached
to the cage. Crocodiles have little trouble jumping
out of the water and clearing their front legs. Any
of the feeding crocodiles could have easily grabbed
David while the tide was at its peak that night .
On the tenth night, David had a deadly visitor. A sea
snake, with more venom than a cobra, became attracted
to the smell of the rotting baits and possibly the filming
lights. The olive six foot snake slid into the cage.
Once inside, the snake became agitated by the lights
and when it realised it was trapped in a cage with a
living mammal, the snake began striking at David with
determined open jawed attacks.
David knew, if the snake bit him, he would not survive
the time it would take to for Tex to get a boat out
to the cage, he also knew he could not escape from the
cage and swim to shore with over a dozen crocodiles
in a feeding frenzy. David drew the knife from the sheath
strapped to his chest (see Knife photo) David then swiped
at the snake, luckily his aim was true and the snake
was almost cut in half, the bleeding snake sank to the
bottom of the cage. David had no way of knowing if the
snake was dead or alive and spent the remainder of the
night worrying if the snake was alive and still in his
cage and if it would attack again. Dawn seemed to never
By the eleventh night, David was a very sick man indeed,
Tex warned him, he should check himself into hospital
as his neck was badly swollen with mosciqto bites and
his constant coughing was a clear warning that David
David decided to give it one more night At a little
after midnight Fergus came, he swam directly to Davids
cage and literally stared at David through the mesh.
David wondered if he would attack the cage or take the
baits, David was literally amazed at the size of the
reptile, the cunning killer which slowly sunk below
the surface and proceeded to nudge the cage trying to
gain access to man inside.
For over an hour he ignored the baits. Meanwhile the
numerous crocodiles that had kept David company for
10 nights, reacted with what can only be described as
sheer panic When Fergus arrived, they scrambled for
safety, some even scurried up into the mangroves with
others disappearing out into Cambridge Gulf. There was
no doubt in David's mind that Fergus had been to the
blood drain before and that he was happy to kill other
crocodiles that did not respect his right to rule over
After what seemed an eternity of nudging and knocking
the cage, the old croc surfaced and again stared through
the mesh at David. His eyes, lit up by the filming lights,
turned gold, For David, it was like looking into the
eyes of death. David recorded on film a deadly stare
of a possible man eater, if other men had looked into
those gold eyes they had not lived to tell the story.
Slowly and confidently the croc then turned his attention
to the baits, opening his jaws he revealed teeth over
four inches long. (View Fergus' teeth photo and movie
this page). David had waited eleven nights to record
this monstrous crocodile known as Fergus,
and here only inches from his camera the legend himself
was feeding, arguably the largest crocodile ever filmed
in the Australias wilderness.
After tearing the baits from the cage the eighteen foot
dragon resumed his exploration of David's cage, bumping
the cage with his bony head. As the cage shook, David
knew the old reptile wanted to kill him, while underwater,
tiny bubbles rose from the croc's nostrils to fill the
air with the putrid smell of rotting meat. The smell
of the crocodiles breath would stay in David's memory
for ever. Then the crocodile vanished.
By morning light the tide began to subside, there was
no sign of the croc. David was by now totally exhausted
and dangerously sick, his senses were now confused,
Dendy fever and pneumonia was taking its deadly toll.
The water around the cage was only a few feet deep.
David had always waited until the water was completely
gone before climbing out of the cage. Tex had warned
him that crocodiles can hide in shallow water to make
good an attack, but David was not thinking clearly.
He wanted badly to get out of the cage, to get out of
the shocking blood drain, to get away from the mosquitos
and snakes and smell of rotting flesh. He had achieved
his aim of filming Fergus. He climbed out of the cage
and jumped into the shallow muddy water. =Fergus was
waiting for such a mistake, he had buried himself beside
the cage. Standing knee deep, David began, to cut loose
the filming lights from the cage. when a girl watching
from the bank saw the huge head of Fergus rise from
the mud behind David and screamed out Watch out,
crocodile! David scrambled up the mesh cage as
the jaws of Fergus slammed shut behind him. The lethal
crushing jaws missing his legs by inches.
Standing in the stinking cage, his heart beating rapidly,
sick and exhausted, David waited until the tide emptied
the Blood Drain and Fergus had slithered his way back
into Cambridge Gulf before he climbed out of his filming
cage. At low tide the imprint Fergus left in the mud
at the base of the cage was measured to be just over
18 feet. Arguably the largest crocodile ever filmed
in the wilderness of Australia. Tex Boman died in 1993,
The Blood Drain footage would not have been possible
without this wonderful old mans help. The old
abattoir was demolished the same year and the mangrove
creek known as the Blood Drain was filled in. The land
was reclaimed by developers. Fergus was never seen again.
The old crocodile may have returned to the dense mangroves
that line Cambridge Gulf or swam up into the very remote
wilderness of the Drysdale river.
The footage shot at the Blood Drain became a special
segment in David Ireland's Film Crocodileman
and was seen around the world on Discovery Channel.
Sometimes, I dream of Fergus and can smell his
putrid breath and hear his jaws slam shut behind me
, I will never forget the spiders, the snakes or the
place known as The Blood Drain. David Ireland
For more information about David please click