Freelance writer exploring our beautiful 'Bush Capital', Canberra. Find out more at: www.cassandrazoro.com
Published June 26th 2012
If you're heading north to Darwin this time of year to get some winter warmth then don't forget to get out and about and make the most of your trip. The Top End is teeming with wildlife - crocodiles, snakes, birds and wallabies, plus eye-popping quirky pubs and bush tucker aplenty.
There's also a whole lot more than the usual stereotypes going on in the region including markets, arts and crafts, kayaking, hiking and more. So if you are lucky enough to be holidaying up in Darwin then make sure you make the most of it's remarkable surroundings. Here are just 3 of the most amazing Top End experiences to cram in to your trip:
Crocodile encounters galore. Let's be clear on this one - make sure you take local advice and always check the swimming warning signs to see if a watering hole is open or not - you don't want to find yourself unexpectedly swimming with a wild saltie. They can kill. But if you really would like to get up close and personal with a crocodile you have a number of safer options.
Take a spectacular jumping crocodile cruise along the Adelaide river for guaranteed close encounters with giant crocs, without getting your feet wet. Or if you fancy a more hands on approach then visit Crocosaurus Cove on Mitchell Street in the heart of Darwin. Here you can hold a baby croc and your entry fee also includes the chance to swim alongside a tank full of small juvenile crocs. The brave can also pay extra for the ultimate adrenalin-filled wildlife encounter - the Cage of Death - in which you are lowered in a see-through cage into a tank with one of the giant crocs!
Go bush, it's a wildlife lover's paradise If you like nature then you will love the Northern Territory. The wildlife is in abundance here - it's not just crocodiles aplenty, there's turtles, dugongs, dingoes, wallabies, snakes, tree frogs, and more birds than you can keep track of. A myriad of colours darting through the sky - prehistoric looking Jabirus, beautiful bower birds, red-tailed black cockatoos and fleeting glimpses of azure kingfishers.
You can really "go bush" here - trekking and swimming in the watering holes within the nearby National Parks and camping out at night. Once you are in the Top End you are spoilt for choice with so many National Parks on your doorstep: Djukbinj, Mary River, Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks can all be reached from Darwin within a day.
At this time of year, the smoke from bush fires lingers in the air and as the sun sets, you can watch the spectacular blazing red fire ball slipping down past the horizon. For an excellent ecotour you can enjoy a sunset cruise with Sea Darwin. Or if it's Thursday or Sunday you can combine watching the sun set from Mindil beach with a delicious dinner at one of the stalls at the Mindil beach markets. With little light pollution around, the night skies in the Northern Territory can be incredibly clear, providing one of the best star gazing experiences in Australia and the perfect opportunity for spotting shooting stars. If you are a film buff you can combine star gazing with a trip to the cinema by visiting Darwin's outdoor Deckchair cinema.
If you only have a few days or a week then these are 3 of the best Top End experiences to squeeze into your short visit. If you have more time on your hands, then why not take a couple of weeks to explore further afield in the Northern territory on an incredible road trip to remember.