The original plan for this day was to go visit Crocodylus Park, which is a farm outside of Darwin. However, no bus goes near it, especially on a Sunday, so instead I decide to go to the alternative which is just a stones throw away from my hostel. Crocosaurus Cove.
It’s been around for about 8 years, and was meant to be temporary, but ended up being so financially popular that it’s stayed around. It’s best known attraction is the Death Cage – a cage that gets lowered into a habitat and into the water while the crocodile swims around you. Very tempting, but very expensive, so I settled for going on the VIP tour, which lets you get to feed the larger crocodiles and get a tour of the reptile room. It started at one, so I had a look around before then.
There are at least 8 adult saltwater crocodiles on display here, with one far from the crowds and only one female (part of a breeding pair who have been nicknamed Will and Kate). All of them were once held at the owners farm before coming here, although most originally came from the wild. The local celebrity is Bert, who has been used in films like Crocodile Dundee – if a movie needs a croc’s movements, Bert is the one they film.
There’s also the reptile house, which honestly surprised me in how good it was – especially since a lot of the animals were up and awake – very rare for reptiles on display. Spent a good 15 minutes watching to constrictors navigate up a branch.
The first show was also held here – the reptile presentation. The handler brought out a small constrictor and a blue tongued lizard (who every said matched my hair quite nicely) and gave a small talk before letting people touch the animals. The snake was more popular than the lizard (which was sad cause the lizard was a sweetie), but very clingy – the handler had to unravel him from my bag and keep him from escaping down my shirt when removing him!
Second show was the fish feeding, where the 3 manta rays in the tank stole the show by flapping their way up to their handlers feet and making the weirdest noises to get fed. Genuinely surprised the handler didn’t slip and fall from the way they were acting – least the other fish were slightly better behaved.
The other show is one a lot of people look forward to. Feeding the crocodiles. Given that they have the cage of death, they don’t feed their crocs at the same time, and mix it up so that the croc’s don’t start recognising a pattern (although the animals that don’t do the cafe have to be fed in these shows each time). You get to see Bert and the others lunging out of the water for the chicken, and hear the snapping of those insane jaws – they look ridiculous out of the water, but damn if they aren’t dangerous.
The handlers also take volunteers at this point, to go feed to the juvenile crocodiles. There’s over 100 of them in this cage, about 1-2 years old, and get fed via meat on fishing lines, which the public can do. Much safer than the large crocs as they are less likely to pull you in, and you can see the crocodiles jumping up a little bit closer. This habitat also has an adjacent pool where you can swim and be right next to the pexiglass of the cage, so guess what I did until is was time for my tour?
The VIP tour is done in 2 segments, Crocodiles and Reptiles. The woman who handled the crocodiles had been working there for several years, and really knew the crocs – she’d originally been hired because one of the crocodiles wasn’t eating and was losing his teeth. She managed to figure out that said crocodile just really hated the crowds, and had him moved to a much more quiet part of the park. It worked like a charm, and he’s much better and growing back his teeth. She also took us into Bert’s cage and let us feed him – and that’s a much different experience from feeding the babies, guy is huge and powerful, and he knows it.
However, the part I loved most was the Reptile House. It was the same guy who’d done the reptile performance. He had a real passion for gecko’s, but was equally interested in other reptiles. And was perfectly happy to let me hold as many as I wanted – spent most of the day stroking a tiny goanna and an albino constrictor. Unlike the couple on the tour who seemed more terrified of the critters more than anything else.
I will say this, Crocosaurus Park is fun, but even if you don’t do the Cage of Death, it’s a very expensive day out. Had a good time, but spent far more than I meant to – Crocodylus Park would probably be much better for a smaller budget.