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Darwin Off The Beaten Path: 80 reviews and 199 photos

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Following the meal! - Darwin

Following the meal!

Jumping Crocodile Cruise

Maybe you’d care to see some crocodiles “in the wild” – without getting too “up close and personal’? This trip is for you.

This company operates several boats for one hour cruises on the Adelaide River, east of Darwin. The VT Meeting group travelled on the largest, the “Adelaide River Queen”, a purpose-made two decked vessel about 15metres long. The upper deck is open but with substantial railings, the lower deck is fitted with thick glass windows for viewing.

Once away from the jetty, a glance up river showed several dark floating shapes: these moved steadily closer, the crocodilian appearance soon becoming evident. At that stage, the tour operators popped out some long ‘fishing rods’ to which they tied meat scraps. With these dangling above the water, the crocs swam up and jumped for a meal (photo 2). You might care to note the wake behind the swimming croc in the main photo – not much chance of outswimming these blokes! Later we watched as a croc the cruise company estimates at 6.4 metres, slid into the water oozing menace and came for a feed (photo 3). Finally, the cruise operators fed the local Whistling Kites (birds of prey), bringing quite a swarm around (photo 4).

Though these tours have been operating for over 20 years, I must admit I found myself wondering about the wisdom of feeding wild animals in this way. The attraction of relatively easy meals must increase the croc numbers in the area and make the river less safe for everyone – quite apart from the possibility of encouraging hungry crocs to head for every boat for a feed. Still, those questions are for the authorities and meanwhile this is an interesting tourist outing. It’s 65 km from Darwin via the Arnhem Highway, turn off right 200 metres before the Adelaide River bridge.

The cost is $25 per adult and cruises operate daily from 1 April to 31 October at 0900, 1100, 1300 and 1500.
(08) 8988 8144

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jun 15, 2008
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A welcome smile for you! - Darwin

A welcome smile for you!

Crocodylus Park and Zoo

So you want to see crocodiles? This would have to be the best place, particularly if you are short of time during your visit.

We visited as part of the VT Darwin meeting, even being given a ‘special’ tour of the croc pens (and gathering many other “instant VTers” who seemed unwilling to accept that we were a private group). That aside, we were given a very interesting and explanatory tour of the croc pens, from the big old ‘rogue’ crocs to hordes of active younger ones destined for the handbag market. The loud “chomp” as the jaws of a large croc slam shut around a chicken scrap provides convincing proof that crocs are not to be trifled with! That message is reinforced by their speed of movement and by their jumping performance, particularly the younger ones.

Time prevented us from visiting the associated zoo, but the crocodiles alone justify the visit. There also is an associated museum, kiosk and gift shop. Normal public tours are at 1000, 1200 and 1400, with the small croc feeding at 1530. Crocodylus Park is at 815 McMillans Road, Knuckey Lagoon. Head out of Darwin past the airport on McMillans Rd. It’s about a 15 minute drive.

Main photo: A big old “rogue” croc.
Second photo:Jumping younger croc
Third photo:“Freshies” – generally inoffensive unless annoyed
Fourth photo:Care for a swim?
Fifth photo:Pacific islands croc-related artifacts in the museum.

Phone: (08) 8922 4501

Website: http://www.crocodyluspark.com.au

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 15, 2008
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Orchids at Jenny's Orchid Garden - Darwin

Orchids at Jenny's Orchid Garden

Jenny’s Orchid Garden

We’ve an interest in orchids. OK, to be more specific, Pauline has an interest in orchids and I’m happy to look at them and take photos! So, when we saw some brochures advertising Jenny’s Orchid Garden, it was certainly going to be on our agenda.

There was little difficulty in finding the Garden, in what probably are called the ‘outer suburbs’ of Darwin. As Jenny collected our entry fees, she advised us that for a token additional cost we were just in time for a Devonshire Tea service. The scones with jam and cream proved very pleasant, how you feel about instant coffee is up to you, but the cups were “bottomless”.

The only other visitors at the time were about to leave, so we had the grounds to ourselves. Jenny’s private orchid collection totals 2500 and the huge shadehouses with the Nursery hold another 100,000! Being mainly interested in photos I was perfectly happy, but Pauline felt the orchid names and prices could have been better displayed. As this seems primarily a commercial nursery, however, my guess is that sales are mainly to the wholesale market.

Maybe not somewhere to excite everyone, but for orchid fanciers Jenny’s certainly is worthy of a visit.

Getting there: About 35km from Darwin down the Stuart Highway, near Howard Springs Nature Reserve.

Details: Open daily 0830-1700 except Christmas and Boxing day.
Adults $7.50, concessions available, children under 15 free.

Other Contact: 10 Neil Court Howard Springs.

Phone: (08) 8983 1641

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 13, 2008
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Stairs and paths at Berry Springs - Darwin

Stairs and paths at Berry Springs

Berry Springs Nature Park

What do you do in Darwin after cruising the river looking at huge crocodiles jumping around? Well, if it’s a warm day (and there’s no other kind here) why not go for a picnic and a swim? Berry Springs is as good a place as you’ll find. The Darwin VT Meeting group had a very pleasant lunch and afternoon there, joining a great many Darwinians busily enjoying their weekend. Nearby a large group were playing a game of cricket.

The Springs are situated in National Park and, you’ll be glad to know, are patrolled for crocodiles, so you should be able to expect (during the “Dry” at least) that swimming is safe unless warning signs are displayed…. When we arrived, many locals already were there enjoying the pools in the river – with well-made stairs, ladders and waterside platforms making it very much like swimming in a pool. I was more focussed on swimming than photography, so (curses) forgot to take my camera to the upper rock pool where warm spring water bubbles over rocks into the swimming hole – and it feels a little like being in a spa pool. Quite a delightful spot to relax.

Open daily 0800 – 1830.

Main – third photos: At the pools
Fourth photo:Not quite a guarantee there will be no crocs!
Fifth photo:If the water doesn’t appeal, join the locals for a picnic.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 9, 2008
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A dingo goes for a drink - Darwin

A dingo goes for a drink

Territory Wildlife Park

This really should be high on your list of priorities, especially if you have only limited time in Darwin.

Run by the Northern Territory Government, I’d describe this as somewhere between a nature reserve and a zoo showcasing the wildlife of the Northern Territory. A network of walking trails connects the main entry and reception area (which includes quite a good snack bar) with enclosures for various types of animals, different vegetation areas representative of the NT (most particularly the northern part). There also is an excellent aquarium, with a sequence of tanks illustrating the progression in aquatic wildlife species from the inland source of streams through to the coral reefs.

Getting around can be done on foot, but the Park provides free ‘trains’ driven by park rangers, on a half hourly service stopping at each of the areas. We both walked and took the train and were glad we did, as the ranger stopped to tell about the wildlife we were seeing and called a sleepy dingo out to be photographed. You will find more photos taken here in Travelogue 2.

It’s about 45 minutes outside the city, so you will need a hire car to visit. The entry charge is $20 for adults, various concessions are available.

Main photo: A rather sleepy dingo goes to have a drink
Second photo:Water buffalo, a species introduced in the 1840s
Third photo:The large ‘salty’ rises for air in his tank
Fourth photo:The café and entry area
Fifth photo:.Sign showing a map of the park.

Other Contact: Cox Peninsula Rd, Berry Springs

Phone: (08) 8988 7200

Website: http://www.territorywildlifepark.com.au/

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 2, 2008
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