Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

Attraction : Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

Imagine a place where you can walk amongst the animals, climb above the treetops and feel on top of the world before floating back to earth.  You can experience all of these things at one place – Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome.

 

You won’t believe it until you see it for yourself, but that ornate dome atop the Reef Casino in Cairns is home to an open wildlife exhibit with various rope courses, zip lines and the opportunity to get the best view in town.

 

Wildlife Dome

Animal lovers don’t need to travel far from Cairns to get their fix.  The Cairns Wildlife Dome is essentially a small tropical zoo within a 20 metre high glass dome that showcases native Australian animals.  Built within the surroundings is Cairns ZOOm, an elaborate rope course with zip lines, a spiral staircase and a platform at the top to soak in the views of the region.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

There are various talks throughout the day so that you can learn and interact with animals such as crocodiles, snakes, koalas and various birds.  The animals are all fairly used to the presence of people so you can get up close without startling them.  One of the best presentations is the crocodile feeding, where you can see and hear Goliath the saltwater crocodile snap at morsels of meat.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

While many of the animals have their own separate enclosures, birds and small marsupials roam free in the rainforest environment.  Kookaburras, frogmouths, curlews and cockatoos are easily spotted from the ground while parrots, herons and doves fly above and can be accessed from a circular boardwalk.  There are over 400 animals within the dome, including an albino kookaburra that can turn the day into a game of hide and seek.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

While many of the animals are visible during the day, such as the turtles, crocodiles and lizards, if you stick around after sunset, the nocturnal animals come out to play.  Bettongs can be seen visiting the feeding stations, the mahogany gliders leave their cosy log for breakfast and curious pademelons are ready to meet the visitors.  While we were in the pademelon section, they were so friendly, one even hopped into Dave’s lap for a kiss.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

ZOOm Courses & Ziplines

When you enter the Wildlife Dome, the overhead ZOOm course is not hard to miss.  It is the world’s first rope course set up in a wildlife exhibit and has over 65 different crossings, including ziplines, ladders, tyre bridges, rope webs and small platforms.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

There are two ZOOm levels – the mid level course is great for beginners, kids and those who may be afraid of heights.  Once you’ve completed the Mid-ZOOm, you’re ready for the Hi-ZOOm.  This course is twice as long, with more crossings and climbs to nearly 10 metres above the floor of the dome.  The view is amazing and dizzying at the very top.  On the way down, there are three ziplines, with one that goes directly over Goliath’s pond.  Don’t worry – there’s no chance he can jump high enough to get you, and there’s even a camera set up so you can take a cool photo souvenir home.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

We were excited about getting up in the air, and the harnessing and safety processes by the friendly staff was nice and quick.  The Mid-ZOOm course was a great introduction into what we were in for with the Hi-ZOOm, and we certainly worked up a sweat.  It’s a great workout for your arms and core, trying to stay stable on wobbly bridges and holding onto ropes and rails.  For the Hi-ZOOm course, we opted for a GoPro helmet for Dave.  We are so happy to have video of the experience, especially the narrow beams at the top of the course that provide nothing to hold on to.  They reminded Juz of the photos from the 1930s of the Rockefeller building construction workers sitting on beams up in the sky.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

Dome Climb

After the Zoom courses, we ducked out for lunch before returning just before sunset for the Dome Climb.  We ascended the spiral staircase that takes you up to the top of the dome and were connected to a belay system before stepping through an opening to get outside.  A tour guide was with us and she gave us a great run down on the history and geography of Cairns.

 

Needless to say, this is THE BEST VIEW OF CAIRNS, and it was even more magical at sunset.  We dangled ourselves off the edge, walked all the way around the Dome and took heaps of pictures before climbing back inside.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

Power Jump

After soaking in the great views of Cairns from the Dome Climb, we had no intention of walking back down the spiral staircase, so we chose to jump down… or POWERJUMP down! The PowerJump involves stepping off a platform 13 metres high and falling at a speed of about 30km/h to land safely at the bottom.  The descent is controlled by a special fan that dissipates the potential energy and allows for a fast fall and soft landing.

 

Dave suggested Juz go first so he could film her with the GoPro.  He probably could’ve filmed from the bottom, but then you wouldn’t be able to see the expression of her face at the edge of the platform before she jumped – or to be more accurate, crumbled – and let out a nice scream on her way down.  HAHAHA!  After she landed, she promptly curled up into the foetal position.  Dave went next and owned it.  He didn’t even make a noise.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

After de-harnessing, the Dome was dark so we did another lap to meet some of the critters that come out at night.

 

We had an incredible time at Cairns ZOOm and Wildlife Dome.  The open plan of the zoo provides the opportunity to interact with some the animals, while the rope courses above are a great way to get an active thrill.  If the physical aspect of the rope course is not your cup of tea, then the Dome Climb is certainly a must do activity because those views are absolutely magnificent.

 

Cairns Zoom and Wildlife Dome

 

Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome from Our Naked Australia on Vimeo.

Alice Springs Reptile Centre

Experience : Alice Springs Reptile Centre

Alice Springs Reptile Centre

 

We love reptiles.  They vary from smooth and slinky to spiky and strange, they’re one of the oldest living species on earth and they’re solar powered!  Therefore, our time in Alice Springs would not have been completely satisfactory unless we visited the Reptile Centre.

 

The Reptile Centre

The Alice Springs Reptile Centre was transformed from a rundown lot behind Billy Goat Hill into a fascinating and educational attraction that opened to the public in January 2000.

 

The centre has the facilities to display a variety of reptiles from the Northern Territory, such as a cave room for the geckoes and a large crocodile pond with an underwater viewing booth for Terry the Saltwater Crocodile.   The humidity, temperature and lighting are carefully controlled to suit the animals based on their natural habitat, and the geckoes are the hardest animals to please because they are very fussy.  The centre is also an Eco Certified attraction and was granted an advanced solar system in 2010 that generates power to the entire centre.

 

There are about 60 different species of animals on display, and each one is loved and cared for by the passionate and friendly staff.  The centre is busiest during the winter months of July to October.

 

The Reptiles

We got to meet four reptiles very personally during the afternoon demonstration.  The first was Ruby the Spencer’s Goanna, who is the resident reptile at the centre.  Ruby was very happy to just laze around and get patted by the visitors.  In the wild, she’d use her blue forked tongue to seek out food like eggs, mice or snakes.  Spencer’s goannas don’t usually climb trees; they’d rather live in burrows that they’ve dug themselves or stolen from other creatures.

 

Alice Springs Reptile Centre

 

Next up was Jessie the bearded dragon.  It was interesting to learn that bearded dragons change colour depending on their mood or temperature.  They are dark when they’re cold so they can absorb more sunlight and more lightly coloured during the hottest part of the day to reflect the sun away.  Their spiky beard also changes colour from happy orange to grumpy black.  They like to eat fruit, vegetables, insects, plants and particularly spiders – all sorts, even the poisonous ones.

 

Alice Springs Reptile Centre

 

Nora the blue tongue lizard was a southern species with darker colours on its scales compared to the lighter coloured lizards of the north. They eat fruit, vegetables, meat, anything they can – even pet food, which is their favourite.  Nora was smooth, cold, stocky and quite heavy.

 

Alice Springs Reptile Centre

 

Our final friend was a beautiful olive python.   These gorgeous creatures prefer a tropical environment and their diet ranges from mice to crocodiles.  Their jaws can expand to fit larger prey and they have heat sensing pits on the sides of the heads to detect prey.

 

Alice Springs Reptile Centre

 

After the demonstration, we checked out the other critters within the centre.  The inside enclosures housed a variety of snakes, including adders, pythons and even an Inland Taipan, which is considered to be the most venomous snake in the world!  The dimly lit gecko cave displayed a fantastic variety of geckoes, from Dave’s favourite marbled velvet gecko to the quirky knob tailed gecko, which kinda looks like Gollum from Lord of the Rings.  Outside were more blue tongue lizards, as well as a thorny devil and a huge perentie monitor.  It was here that we got to personally meet Terry the Saltwater Crocodile, who was captured in Darwin Harbour in 2002.

 

Alice Springs Reptile Centre

 

The Essentials

The Alice Springs Reptile Centre is open daily from 9:30am to 5pm, except for Christmas and New Years day.  Demonstrations are run daily at 11am, 1pm and 3:30pm.  The entry fee is $16 for adults and $8 for children, or $40 for families (prices current as of March 2014).

 

9 Stuart Terrace, Alice Springs

Phone: 08 8952 8900

www.reptilecentre.com.au

 

Alice Springs Reptile Centre

 

Holmes Jungle

Experience : Holmes Jungle Nature Park

Holmes Jungle

 

We woke up early on Take A Walk In The Park Day to head over to Holmes Jungle before the day got too hot. The nature park covers about 250 hectares and protects a monsoon forest, right on the fringe of Darwin’s northern suburbs. We visited at the end of the Wet Season so it was a bit damp and overgrown, but we had a fantastic journey into what seemed like another world.

 

We parked the Troopy at the Hilltop Picnic Area and took the Woodland Walk to the forest. It was strange how quickly the environment changed from dry and grassy to damp and shady. We were suddenly surrounded by tall trees and loud shrieks coming from the canopy. We came across a Keelback Snake and Jewel Spider before the path narrowed and all but disappeared into the tall green grass.

 

Keelback Snake - Holmes Jungle

 

We pushed our way through the grass, which was about 2 metre tall, and moved as quickly as possible – we’d already come across one snake and we didn’t want to see another one! We came out of Holmes Jungle with grass seeds all over our arms and legs, but with big smiles on our faces. It was quiet an adventure to come before the annual cleanup after the wet season.

 

Jewel Spider - Holmes Jungle

 

Cage of Death - Crocosaurus Cove

Experience : Crocosaurus Cove, Darwin

Crocosaurus Cove

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.

 

Pygmy Crocodile - Crocosaurus Cove

 

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.

 

The Archerfish – Crocosaurus Cove, Darwin from Our Naked Australia on Vimeo.

 

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.

 

CROCOPILE! - Crocosaurus Cove

 

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…

 

Crocosaurus Cove

 

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

Website: http://www.crocosauruscove.com/

 
Book your tour at TripAdvisor

 
Crocosaurus Cove