The Big Croc Feed Experience at Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin offers guests the unique opportunity to feed some of Australia’s largest saltwater crocodiles. Get a personal introduction to the most feared of Aussie reptiles and enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of this renowned inner-city wildlife attraction.
A stroll through Darwin feels like you could be on the film set of Crocodile Dundee.
Laconic, tanned Aussie characters in Akubras abound in the Northern Territory capital, and the reality is you’re actually never far from a crocodile — even in the heart of the city, thanks to one of Darwin’s most popular attractions — Crocosaurus Cove. Oh, and when I say heart of the city, I mean smack bang right in the middle of the CBD. Ferocious saltwater crocodiles reside just metres from the city’s entire backpacker population on busy Mitchell Street.
Once you get over your initial surprise at Crocosaurus Cove’s prime piece of city real estate (and its TARDIS-like feel — it’s a lot bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside), head inside for the chance to learn more about the Northern Territory’s, and indeed Australia’s, most feared predator.
It’s estimated that there are over 100,000 saltwater crocodiles living in the wild across the Top End. Wetland cruises are one way of seeing them in their natural habitat; the Jumping Crocodile Cruises advertised around Darwin are another. Crocodiles can actually be found right across the northern extremities of Australia, and as far down the east coast as Rockhampton. On average, ‘salties’ are responsible for one or two human deaths each year.
Watch our video review of Crocosaurus Cove:
Welcome to The Big Bus tour and travel guide’s YouTube channel. In this video, we take you to fabulous Crocosaurus Cove in the heart of Darwin’s CBD.
It goes without saying that visitors to the Top End should err well on the side of caution, which includes obeying all signs and wisely assuming that if there is no sign then there is a crocodile in residence. As one backpacking bartender told me, the only place they’ll even go near the water is a fully fenced backyard swimming pool — and even then they’ll check it a couple of times. That’s understandable. After all, these highly effective killing machines have remained largely unchanged for millions of years, so effective is their technique at stalking and bringing down prey. They are also highly mobile, particularly during The Wet.
Don’t assume that fresh water is safer than salt water. The saltwater crocodile (along with the less aggressive freshwater crocodile) can be found in both salt and fresh water, thanks to glands located on the tongue that secrete excess salt absorbed. That’s just one of the many interesting facts I pick up during my three or so hours at the Cove.
Most visitors to Crocosaurus Cove are happy just observing up to 800 kilograms of hungry croc at feeding time from the safety of the viewing walkways. Some like to get much closer to the action by taking a spin in the colourfully named Cage of Death — and be lowered in their bathers into a crocodile enclosure in what is essentially a giant Perspex tube. The final option is to go behind the scenes on the Big Croc Feed Experience.
Either way you’ll be absolutely amazed at the size and power of these animals. Saltwater crocodiles don’t stop growing. Ever. Mature salties average around 5 metres in length but can reach up to 7 metres. As they get older, mature crocodiles will simply start to slow down and gradually deteriorate. A more aggressive youngster will eventually drive an old crocodile from its territory and starvation will be the end result.
For the older residents of Crocosaurus Cove (Chopper and Burt for example are both estimated to be 80+) it’s probably not such a bad place to retire. You get to enjoy lots of sunny snoozes and plenty of fresh chicken.
I opt to take part in the Big Croc Feed Experience and it’s well worth the extra investment on your ticket price. The tour includes a backstage visit to a number of enclosures, the chance to feed crocodiles and a qualified guide on hand to answer all croc-related queries. We also spend an hour or so in the adjoining reptile house meeting some other formidable Aussie characters, including two of our deadliest snakes. The fun never stops.
The Big Croc Feed Experience at Crocosaurus Cove is a great way to get an all-round education and appreciation for a seriously awe inspiring apex predator and to tap into — however briefly — your inner Mick Dundee.
The writer took part in this activity as a guest of Crocosaurus Cove.
Cover image courtesy of Crocosaurus Cove
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.