Did you know that there are over 200 crocodiles, both big and small, that live in the heart of the Darwin CBD? They all reside at Crocosaurus Cove, with many other creatures like turtles, snakes, lizards and frogs, and they would love a visit from you!
Crocosaurus Cove is an incredible attraction that was opened in 2008 to rejuvenate Darwin city. These days, they get up to 400 visitors a day during the Dry Season, including families with kids, international visitors and young Aussies. All staff are incredibly knowledgeable and super friendly whilst always keeping your safety in mind, and the souvenir shop stocks all the usual stuff like pens, shot glasses and toys, stuffed toys, as well as crocodile leather products.
There are two roads that you can take when exploring Crocosaurus Cove. You can pay the entry fee and walk around the centre yourself, getting to the meeting points on time to see presentations and feedings (check the Croc Cove program here), or you can choose the Big Croc Feed Experience that includes a guided tour. We spent the morning exploring by ourselves and went on the guided tour later in the day. We both agree that the tour was a bloody ripper. We had an extra special mate along for the tour – a frilled neck lizard that would sit on our shoulders – and we got to feed some of the critters. We got so much more information from our guide and learnt heaps about the enclosures and the centre itself. We highly recommend opting for the Big Croc Feed Experience.
Meet the Reptiles
The reptile enclosure at Crocosaurus Cove is the largest collection of Australian reptiles… IN THE WORLD! It holds over 70 species from the Top End and Kimberley region, including lizards and geckos, snakes, turtles and quite possibly a new species of crocodile – the pygmy crocodile. They’re still waiting on DNA results that will determine the new species, but in the meantime, enjoy this great ‘Terminator’ shot that Juz took.
We learnt about non-venomous pythons, like the beautiful albino olive python, which doesn’t grow as big as its olive counterpart, but still has that placid and friendly disposition. We also learnt about some of Australian’s venomous snakes, like the death adder, who is too fat to move quickly so they usually hide and end up getting trod on.
An interesting fact that we learnt about snake bites is that the venom is spread by the lymphatic system, not the bloodstream! If you are bitten by a snake, apply pressure and immobilise the affected area to prevent the venom from reaching vital organs.
This was by far Juz’s favourite location, not only for the air conditioning, but because of the displays and the reptile handling. We got to hold a big blue tongue lizard, a bearded dragon and a friendly Stimson’s python that slithered all over Dave.
The reptile feeding was also a thrill. They presented an olive python with a humanly pre-killed rat so that we could watch how the snake gets its big lunch down its little throat. Contrary to popular belief, snakes don’t actually dislocate their jaw, but they can open their mouths to 160°! We learnt that snakes have a sense of smell that compensates for their bad eyesight and their forked tongue allows them to smell in ‘stereo’. They also locate prey by sensing heat and once they capture their dinner, they constrict it to suffocate it so gently that no bones are broken. If the snake does break bones, the kill will be abandoned because broken bones can scratch or stab internal organs during digestion.
Meet the Fish
Crocosaurus Cove has a massive 200,000 litre fresh water aquarium that is based on the Daly River system. The selection of fish include two massive whip rays that can grow up to 1.3m wide, enormous barramundi, and two endangered saw fish, which made our day every time we saw them. Despite the 22 razor sharp teeth in each side of their rostrum, they looked super happy with their pink gummy smile.
One of the coolest fish in the aquarium is the archerfish and we got to feed these little guys during the guided tour. They have fantastic eyesight and spit water at their prey (insects, bugs) to knock them into the water. They can spit up to 3 metres above the water’s surface, but their accuracy is limited to 2 metres.
Meet the Crocs
The main attraction! They’ve got big crocs, baby crocs, juvenile crocs and even lover crocs – the royals, Kate and William. A few of the crocodiles were so old and injured that they’ve been brought to Crocosaurus Cove for sanctuary.
As part of the guided tour, we got to do two awesome things – feed the giant crocodiles and go croc fishing! Juz was first up to feed the largest crocodile in the centre and the feeling of having a 5 metre, 80 year old crocodile on the other end of the pole was indescribable. After the terrifying crack of the crocodile’s jaws clapping around the hunk of meat, the pole arched as Juz heaved and the string eventually gave way. What a feeling…
Dave had his turn with a different crocodile that was sleeping in a pool only 2 meters from our faces. It took a while to wake the critter up, but after a flash of white water and teeth, we knew he meant business.
The croc fishing was heaps of fun. We approached the juvenile crocodile pond to find a huge ‘crocopile’ and had a giggle as we referenced a South Park episode. We stepped onto the jetty, the guide baited our fishing line with a small piece of meat and the crocs jumped out of the water for a bite.
Hold a Baby Crocodile
The World of Crocs Museum exhibits various crocodile species from all over the world and is also the place where you can get up close and personal with a baby crocodile.
The first thing we did when we arrived was hold Fluffy, a 3 month old baby saltwater crocodile, and holding Fluffy again was the last thing we did before we left. They had a few Fluffies on rotation to ensure that one hatchling didn’t get overhandled or too tired. It was a great opportunity to hold a feisty little croc, and get a closer look at its scales, feet, eyes, and teeny tiny teeth.
Tom Kelly, the resident photographer was very informative and pointed out sensory spots on Fluffy’s scales before taking some hilarious photos. The sensory spots help the croc feel even the smallest change in the water – the slightest ripple could mean lunch time!
Cage of Death
While this feature was recommended to us by a few mates, we chose to watch instead of participate. The Cage of Death is Australia’s first and only crocodile dive experience and while it looked like heaps of fun to be centimetres away from a crocodile, we were happy to stay dry on the sidelines.
We saw three cage drops, with most of the thrill seekers being in their 20s. We had a chat with some people after their dunk and they said it was really cool, scary and well worth the money.
There’s a reason Crocasaurus Cove is one of the most popular attractions in Darwin – it’s great fun for kids and adults alike. We wholeheartedly recommend taking the Big Croc Feeding guided tour – it’s worth every dollar. Not only do you get to feed the crocs, you get to hold more animals than everyone else, you get your own guide to answer any questions you throw at them, and you get VIP priority for baby croc holding and croc fishing.
If you’ve got the dollars and the guts, you should totally book your place in the cage of death! We might have to find some time to head in to Crocosaurus Cove one more time to take a dunk in a croc tank…
Experience Crocosaurus Cove
Crocosaurus Cove is open throughout the year from 9am to 6pm, except on Christmas Day. If you have a Northern Territory driver’s license, you’re in luck! An NT Locals Pass entitles the holder to pay the entry fee once and receive entry for the ENTIRE YEAR – perfect for families with young kids or reptile lovers!
Address: 58 Mitchell Street, Darwin City
Phone: 08 8981 7522