PADDLING down the Mary River in a two-metre kayak in search of a 3.5-metre crocodile is not everyone's idea of a great morning out.
But for Sunshine Coast wildlife enthusiast Greg Roberts, it was a dream come true.
Having spent many years in Darwin, Mr Roberts is no stranger to corocodile sightings, but the chance to see the reptile that has made the waterways around Maryborough its home and defied capture for more than a year was too good to pass up.
"It was a difficult decision, frankly. There were three cases of people in kayaks or canoes being killed or seriously injured by crocs,'' he said. "I knew that there was an element of risk.
"On the other hand, I had a lot of contact with the rangers up there and I was satisfied that this animal was very shy and absolutely steered clear of people."
Combined with the knowledge that the croc was well-fed and it was not mating season, Mr Roberts set off.
He had started to relax after a couple of hours of paddling when he suddenly saw the snout and eyes of the elusive croc a mere 15 metres from his kayak.
"The crocodile had evidently been on the river bank and slipped into the water when it saw or heard me approach. It had then taken a look at the cause of the disturbance," he said.
"I confess to a panic attack. I got out of the kayak and dragged it up on to the mud.
"I hauled myself up the river bank on my hands and knees as fast as I could, but the mud was thigh-deep. It was very slow going and exhausting.
"I looked constantly behind me.''
With adrenaline pumping and covered in mud, Mr Roberts waited on the steep bank for an hour before clambering back down and paddling the 3km back to the Beaver Rock boat ramp.