At first, nothing stood out to three British backpackers when they decided to set up camp in the Australian bush. But they were in for a rude awakening the next day when they discovered that they had parked their van in a crocodile-warning zone and that floodwaters were rising around their camp.

The group parked for the night on Monday (5 February) near Cairns, north Queensland, reports ABC. Heavy rain overnight flooded the picnic area where they had pitched tent and when they woke up they were forced to take shelter on top of their Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine-style van to escape the rising waters.

That's when they realised they had parked right next to a bright yellow sign warning of crocodiles in the area.

Queensland is home to saltwater crocodiles, who occasionally attack and kill humans.

The group called Queensland's Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) for help. According to a spokesperson for the QFES, the water was at wheel-level when the trio raised the alarm but levels rose quickly during the phone call. By the time help arrived, the water level was up to the windows of the vehicle, said responder Guy Bulmer.

The Daily Mail reported the trio are former students from Eton College on a gap year. They decided by majority decision to not swim to safety.

The rescue operation took 45 minutes but the hapless campers were unscathed.

"It was good they decided not to try and self-evacuate from the vehicle with water levels rising rapidly — and it had some flow," added Bulmer.

"You just don't know what's in those flooded waters; there could be crocodiles or other obstacles that could cause injury".

Storms and heavy rainfall have been plaguing Australia since last week and several coastal areas are still on flood alert.

ABC reported that record rainfall of 639mm in four days had hit the Kimberley region in Western Australia. The area was cut off from the rest of the country after water flooded the region's only highway and was so fierce that it tore off the bitumen surface of the road.