Darwin – Crocodile Capital
I finally make it to Darwin, the very last capital of Australia which I had not yet visited in my life. It was bigger than I expected for a town stuck really in the middle of nowhere. Although the city itself consists of a few main streets where all the shops are found, the suburbia spreads out for quite a distance. It has a fairly relaxed atmosphere. There are no suits walking up and down the main drag hurriedly like in Brisbane. There were roadside mango stores galore, a strip of dirt where you could park your car for the weekend with a for sale sign on it with the other 20 vehicles, and plenty of sunshine and sea breezes to enjoy.
A walk along the esplanade in the shade was how I began my exploration. This led me to the war memorial. Further into town I find the ship terminal and wave beach where you can swim crocodile free. Seemed pretty popular. The shops are the same as anywhere else except for the multiple tourist tour booking agencies cashing in during the dry season tourism boom.
As in all the other cities I visited the local art gallery and museum. Still much the same as anywhere. Plenty of stuffed animals, indigenous displays, and a decent display on Cyclone Tracy which devastated Darwin in 1974, virtually levelling the whole city. There was also a maritime museum with several small ships most of which were confiscated from illegal boat people over the years. Nearly all were wooden hulled which was interesting to see how they were built. Most looked pretty unseaworthy.
I later took a drive up to East Point where the military museum is located. It was closed for the day but I took a walk along the coastal trail and looked at the WW11 military installations which remained. This site had once had the world’s longest antisubmarine net in place. There were numerous bunkers and gun emplacements. Darwin was also attacked by the Japanese in WW11 in dozens of air raids.
Nearby I completed a short mangrove boardwalk.
Back in town in the main street I spent a day at Crocosaurus Cove, one of the many crocodile themed experiences nearby. The $35 adult entry fee was worth it. I ended up learning more about crocs which I didn’t know. There was plenty of interpretation boards around the place giving a detailed history and biology of these ancient creatures.
It was fun watching the people in the “Cage of Death” swimming with a massive saltwater croc. Once guy looked like he was terrified. The park also had a decent reptile collection, along with a large aquarium with giant barramundi and stingrays. You can also feed a baby saltwater croc for free with a line.
These little ones can jump clear of the water to catch their pray. Remember that when you’re in croc country and lean an arm out of a boat.
There were also some freshwater turtles and croc feeding displays.
There’s a gift shop downstairs with plenty of handbags and wallets and other crocodile leather goods.
After those few days in Darwin I felt like I’d seen most things. I had some more work to do on my car with replacing a blown turbo gasket and the broken front muffler mount. All fixed again then back on the road bound for Litchfield NP.