I landed in Darwin, capital of Australias Northern Territory, a little after lunch having taken a 4.5-hour flight from Brisbane and immediately was hit by the tropical heat on stepping off the aircraft. After grabbing my luggage I jumped onboard a shuttle which took me to my hotel. I had chosen to stay at one of the DoubleTree by Hilton hotels down on the Esplanade – mainly because I wanted a cookie – but also I quite like DoubleTree hotels. There are two DoubleTree hotels located next door to each other so make sure you go to the correct one!
After checking in and dumping my luggage in my room, I wondered out to explore the surrounding area – I made the mistake of going in jeans and a t-shirt and didn’t get beyond the esplanade before abandoning that plan and retreating back to the hotel and spent the rest of the afternoon lying by the pool.
On my first full day in Darwin, I had planned to go to Crocosaurus Cove who offer the opportunity to “swim” with a crocodile on their Cage of Death experience. I had pre-booked this in advance and if it’s something you’re planning on doing I recommend you do the same as it seems to sell out weeks in advance. Crocosaurus Cove is pretty much in the centre of Darwin, it was a 10-minute walk from my hotel and I had arrived around 0915, for my 1000am experience. After checking in I was told to wander up to the place where I was met by one of the keepers and taken for a safety briefing before we began. The person who had booked it for the slot before I had also arrived so I got to see what happens before doing it myself.
It is an interesting experience, basically, you are inside a plexiglass cage which is suspended on a track above the enclosures. They lower you down into the enclosure inside the cage and submerge it around 2/3 of the way, enough that you need to dive down to reach the bottom of the cage. Mine was in the enclosure for a crocodile named Chopper, after giving you around 10 minutes to swim and take photos beside the crocodile they hoist the cage up to around 1/3 submerged so that you’re able to sit on the bottom while they feed the crocodile right next to your cage. The entire thing lasts around 20 minutes and it gives an amazing opportunity to see these animals up close in the water, without getting eaten!
Afterwards you get the option to purchase a 360 video of your experience (I’ve linked mine above) and some photos that the photographers have taken with you in the water, depending on the light conditions at the time it seems from my experience the underwater photos come out a lot better than the above water ones as the sunlight reflecting on the glass shows up all the scratches. You’re also able to take your own cameras in with you, ideal if you have a GoPro.
Your Cage of Death experience also includes a day pass to Crocosaurus Cove and they have various activities throughout the day, I hung around for around an hour afterwards as I looked at the other enclosures and reptiles they have at the centre.
After a quick coffee, I wandered back along the main street towards Bennett Street where I hopped on a Hop-on, Hop-off bus around Darwin. I’ve taken a liking to these as I find them a great way to see around the cities – as they always cover the main tourist areas, provide a map and usually have a quite good commentary about the history of the city you’re in. The big advantage is that there usually open top – so you can sit outside if you want and you can jump on and off it throughout the 24 or 48 hours of your ticket. As I only had the 2 full days in Darwin I only purchased a 24 hour ticket, jumping off when we reached the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, which is free to enter and quite interesting, I also wondered down to the shoreline to take some photos before hopping back on the bus to complete the tour of the city heading for dinner before making my way back to the hotel.
The next day, I got up around 10 and hopped on the bus tour again, I had planned to 360 video it but as I found out afterwards I had the wrong card in the camera and that didn’t work out.
I grabbed some lunch at the hotel bar before spending the rest of the afternoon lying by the pool since my next stop was going to be the much chillier Sydney.