Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Crocosaurus Cove: A Snappy Attraction

Back in Darwin, after our two intervening nights in Jabiru, we checked in at the Holiday Inn Esplanade again.

On a side note, as Platinums in a hotel that was full, we were given the "second best suite." Our friends Bill and Sue had the best suite and hosted a Saturday-night FlyerTalk party there. Their suite was so over-the-top that we have to show a couple of photos. It must have been designed for the owner. Would you really expect to see a more-than 1000-square-foot suite in a Holiday Inn?

We'd decided to take a break from the Oz Fest tours officially planned. Instead we walked the couple of blocks from the hotel to Crocosaurus Cove. This was the site of our Saturday evening Oz Fest banquet, referred to by Aussies as a function, and we had a pass to visit the exhibits anytime during the day.

We didn't know what to expect - is that name "Crocosaurus Cove" just a bit, ah, corny? - but we were quickly impressed by the modern facility, its well organized and comprehensive exhibits, and its shows. We think it's world class and we eagerly spent several hours there.

Before long, there was a fish-feeding display and we watched sawfish spear food on their saw "blades."

Then it was onward to see the crocodiles. Crocodiles are the oldest reptiles in the world, going back 300 million years or so, and share with dinosaurs and birds the same arrangement for joining the foot and leg at the ankle. Australia is home to estuarine crocodiles, commonly called saltwater crocodiles although they often live in fresh water as well. These large crocs also live in Southeast Asia, India and around western Pacific islands.

Freshwater crocodiles live only in Australia. They are generally much smaller than saltwater crocs. They can also live in estuarine waters but try to stay away from their larger cousins, who like to eat them. The Aussies, with their penchant for abbreviation, refer to them as salties and freshies.

Crocosaurus Cove is home to some big guys, including the first or second-largest croc in captivity. They all looked big to us.

There are lots of little ones as well. Don't they look cute?

How strong are a croc's jaws? Very...

Watching a Japanese tourist - and listening to him yell loudly - as he descended in the Cage of Death was almost as entertaining as watching the crocs themselves.

A little later, Brian did his part to train juvenile crocs to jump out of the water for food.

The last demonstration we watched just before leaving for lunch helped to curb our appetite. They're very proud of their albino pythons; in fact, they sell them. It was feeding time for this particular snake and the handlers knew just what she wanted: a rat.

Fortunately, the rodent was already deceased. It took the snake awhile but eventually all that was left was the tail.

And now where to find a peanut butter sandwich for lunch in Darwin?

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