Crocodiles, camels and barramundi – the Northern Territory is the best place in Australia to have a wild, wildlife adventure.
If you’re planning a trip to do the NT – these are the wildlife adventures we highly recommend.
Crocosaurus Cove (Darwin)
Crocosaurus Cove has the world’s largest display of Australian reptiles and Australia’s only crocodile dive.
Thrill-seeking kids will need to be at least 15 if they want to enter the Cage of Death. If not, it’s great fun to watch the adults do it. In this freaky experience, guests will spend 15 minutes in the crocodile enclosure with a 5m long Saltwater crocodile. If this doesn’t get your heart racing, nothing will.
At 2.30pm head to the Big Croc Feeding show. Keepers will demonstrate the crocodile’s bite force. Watch as they make a meal out of a solid block of ice. Keep a lookout for Chopper. This croc has a reputation as one of the most feared Salties in the NT.
Want to feed a croc yourself? Head to the Fishing for Crocs display at 11.30am, 2.30pm or 4.30pm. From the safety of a glass fenced platform, you can feed up to 100 juvenile saltwater crocodiles with a fishing line. This is a great way to show the kids how crocodiles feed in the wild. Watch as they bring their whole body out of the water to reach for the snack.
In between activities be sure to check out the reptile house which has more than 70 species on display. Most are from the Top End, Kimberley and NT desert regions. Make sure you find the time for the Meet the Reptiles show. Kids can get up close to the incredible creatures and learn what they like to eat for lunch. They can even hold a baby croc. Show times are at 10am, 12.30pm and 4pm.
Where: 58 Mitchell Street Darwin
Price: Entry is $35 for adults, $28 for seniors and $23 for children. Tickets can be bundled with entry to the RFDS for a discount.
Hours: Open 9am to 6pm daily
Pyndan Camel Tracks (Alice Springs)
Ride out into the desert on a camel train, with the West Macdonnell Ranges as your backdrop. Camel feet are surprisingly quiet, which makes this a lovely and peaceful way to explore the desert.
While on the one-hour camel ride you’ll learn about the early European explorers and the natural desert environment.
Pyndan’s camel rides begin at 12 noon, 2.30pm or sunset. If you can book the sunset ride, you will get to see the colours of the ranges deepen to a glowing red as the sky changes from cobalt blue to orange-pink.
Kids from 7 can ride on their own camel, and younger children share with adults.
Pop them in front for the best view and make sure you lean back and relax as the camel gets up from its knees to its feet.
The camels are friendly and well-trained. Each one has a unique personality. Pixie is the “biggest smoocher”, Good Boy is the oldest, calmest camel and handsome Cookie is perhaps the smartest, cheekiest camel of the herd.
Make sure you meet Pat the cockatoo back at the farm – he’s super chatty for an old man… he was born in 1941.
Where: 21259 Jane Road Mparntwe Alice Springs (but they can pick you up from your hotel)
Price: From $79 adults and $39 kids
Hours: Camel rides start at 12 noon, 2.30pm or sunset
Alice Springs Desert Park (Alice Springs)
At Alice Springs Desert Park you can get up close to many of the birds, reptiles and creatures that inhabit the Red Centre. The best part is that many of the enclosures are interactive.
You can walk amongst the kangaroos and sit in an aviary full of birds native to the desert. The Desert Park is one of the only places in the world where you can stand right next to a wedge-tailed eagle as part of their Eagle Encounter.
Head out early and you can enjoy breakfast around the campfire with billy tea and damper. Expert local guides will teach you about hunting and gathering techniques and how the animals live in one of the hottest parts of Australia. Expect to see emus, barking spiders, red kangaroos, quolls and maybe even a thorny devil.
Where: Alice Springs Desert Park is only seven kilometres from the centre of Alice Springs. Self-drive, jump on the public bus, hire a bike or join a transfer to make your way to the Desert Park.
Price: Adults $32, Children (5-15) $16
Hours: 7.30am to 6.00pm every day. Last entry 4.30pm.
Alice Springs Reptile Centre (Alice Springs)
Home to the largest reptile display in Central Australia, this reptile centre is sure to send shivers down your spine. Over 100 frill-neck lizards, giant goannas, thorny devils, geckos and crocs are on display at the Alice Springs Reptile Centre.
Learn about the reptiles and their habitats, food, predators and adaptations during the daily show (11am, 1pm and 3:30 pm). And for the daredevils who stick around to until the end, you’ll get to handle some lizards and pythons yourself.
See if you can spot the park’s favourite resident, Terry the Saltwater Crocodile. He lives in a glass-bottom enclosure, producing great photo opportunities of his underwater world.
Some of the most dangerous snakes in the world live at the Alice Springs Reptile Centre. But not to fear, the death adders, taipans and brown snakes sit safely behind the glass.
It’s worth checking out the gekko cave if you get the chance. Gawk at the live exhibitions and watch the gecko species in this super rare display. It’s not often you can experience the desert in the middle of the Alice Springs city.
Where: 9 Stuart Terrace, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, 0870, Australia
Price: Entry is $18 for adults, $15 for concession and $10 for children. A family pass is $46 and kids under four enter free.
Hours: 9:30 – 5pm daily, but reptiles tend to be most active in the warmer months. When it’s colder, the best time of day to visit is between 11am and 3pm.
Red Desert Reptiles (Ayers Rock Resort, Uluru)
Ranger Danny introduces kids to the Red Centre reptiles twice daily at Ayers Rock Resort. Danny teaches families how these incredible species survive in the harsh desert environment. Some may be hard to spot thanks to their ability to camouflage and rapidly change colour.
You meet Bruce the blue tongue lizard, Wolverine the cheeky bearded dragon (Ngapala), Max the mulga also known as a king brown (Liru) and a woma python (Kunlya).
All guests are offered the opportunity to hold Wolverine and Kunlya and have their photo at no extra charge.
The show is about an hour and you pay at the door. The show takes place at Ayers Rock Resort’s amphitheatre and the seating is comfortable and undercover, so even in the heat of the day, it’s a great activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Where: Ayers Rock Resort, Yulara Drive, Yulara
Price: $25 per adult, $15 per child.
Hours: Check with the resort reception
Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise (Humpty Doo)
A Jumping Crocodile Cruise – nothing seems scarier. But as you cruise through the waters of the Adelaide River, your safety is assured. We think. This cruise is just an hour’s drive from Darwin. And totally worth it.
Join the expert croc staff as they guide your river cruise and educate the whole family on crocodile biology, territorial habits and ecosystem value.
You’ll be introduced to the giant creatures by name, and by personality.
More than 80,000 crocs roam the Northern Australia waterways. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch them having a mud bath to cool off in the sun. During the cooler months, they’ll be lounging around trying suntan.
The crocs have a healthy diet of barramundi, mud crabs and stingray. On occasion, they eat wallaby. Just don’t let the kids fall out of the boat.
Watch the saltwater crocodiles feed on their buffalo meat as they come out to say hello and flash their hunting techniques. They recognise the boats, so the cruise lives up to its name when it’s time for lunch.
Where: Arnhem Highway, Humpty Doo, NT
Price: Entry is $45 for adults, $40 for seniors and $30 for children. A family pass is $125 and infants are free.
Hours: Daily tours at 9:00, 11:00, 1:00 and 3:00.
There’s no shy fish in these waters.
Every day in Darwin, masses of wild marine life flock to the shore awaiting their daily feed. Aquascene lets the little marine enthusiasts the opportunity to get up close and personal with the fish. A staple attraction for Northern Territorians, the initial audience has now stretched to domestic and international visitors.
Aquascene offers families with kids of all ages the unique opportunity to hand feed different fish every day. The feeding hours do change depending on the weather and tides, so be sure to check the opening times before you go.
Bread is distributed among visitors as the at hand staff guide you through the process with a microphone. With the help of the knowledgeable guides, everyone can learn about the tides and fish breeds as they nibble around your ankles. If you’re fast enough, you might even be able to pat one. But don’t get your hopes up – the scales on a fish aren’t exactly fluffy.
You’re likely to see a lot of curious milkfish, batfish and barramundi, and they’re far from shy. If you look beyond the big group feeding, you’ll also likely see stingrays and maybe even a parrot fish. Leave your jewels at home – the cheeky mud crabs have been known to grab.
Families with kids of all ages can enjoy this spectacular feeding event year-round. This 60 plus year tradition is sure to provoke some squeals and smiles.
Where: 28 Doctors Gully Road, Darwin, Northern Territory
Price: Entry is $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $10 for children. A family pass is $43.
Hours: The fish feeding happens for a couple of hours each day, the most fish are seen during December and August. Check the opening times here.
The Territory Wildlife Park (Berry Springs)
Head to the Territory Wildlife Park for an up-close encounter with NT wildlife. The 400-hectare park showcases animals found within the Top End of the NT from Katherine to the Darwin. Keep a lookout for bowerbirds, orange footed scrub-fowl and the infamous ta-ta dragon which is known for arm waving.
The Territory Wildlife Park has an extensive series of walking tracks to follow. It is divided into different habitat zones including a woodland wallaby walk, the billabong, the aquarium and the nocturnal house. The exhibits are well signposted and close enough for little legs. But if the kids do get tired you can always jump on the free shuttle train, or hire bikes, scooters and strollers. Kids will love wandering underneath the aquarium. Just watch out for the huge Saltwater croc.
The rangers at Territory Wildlife Park are happy to answer any questions about the species in the park. Ask at reception when you arrive about the animal encounters. Families can join in Pelican feeding, take a VIP tour of the nocturnal den and even pat a River Ray.
Where: Cox Peninsula Road, Berry Springs. You will either need to hire a car to drive here or book a tour of the park with Ethical Adventures. No public transport to the park exists. It is about 45 minutes from Darwin city centre.
Price: $32 Adult $16 Child 5-16 yrs Free Child 0-4 yrs $22.50 Concession & Student $25.50 Australian Senior Family tickets available.
Hours: 9am to 5pm daily.