Crocodiles in Aboriginal culture
Crocodiles play a very important part in Aboriginal culture. It’s believed that crocodiles represent the spirit of important people and signify strength and skill.
The Crocodile Dreaming story that originates in the Daly River region is one of power and jealousy. A legendary fisherman was believed to have been killed by jealous men when their wives became too admiring of his prowess. The fisherman was rolled in a net and left to hang over the waterway. It’s believed that the net marks in his skin became the scale pattern of the crocodile, and that the fisherman now prowls the shoreline awaiting his revenge.
This is just one of many Dreamtime stories about crocodiles that are still told today.
History of crocodiles in the Territory
While crocodiles may be the oldest residents of the NT, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for these carnivores. From the end of WWII until the early 70’s, crocodiles were hunted for their leather hides to the point of near extinction.
Since then, unregulated hunting has ceased, and our world-renowned conservation industry has ensured that over half of the Australian crocodile population are found in the NT.
Now, with a sustainable and protected population, crocodile conservation is a priority across the NT and numbers have recovered almost completely in the past four decades.
Where to see crocodiles in Darwin
If you want to see the impressive crocodile up close, it’s best to do it somewhere safe.
In Darwin, you can get up close and personal with one of the Territory’s most famous crocodiles, Sweetheart. Now located in the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory at Fannie Bay as a taxidermy attraction, Sweetheart was the inspiration for the horror film, Rogue. In his golden days in the 1970s, Sweetheart was known to stalk fishing boats, attack outboard motors and tip the occupants into the water. Luckily he didn’t hurt anyone, but a 5 metre crocodile chasing your boat is a scary prospect!
Darwin crocodile parks
If you want to see a live crocodile, there are lots of options. Visit Crocodylus Park on the outskirts of Darwin and see a range of animals including more than 1000 resident crocodiles. Check for feeding times to see these beasts in action.
In the centre of Darwin, visit Crocosaurus Cove to see crocodiles of all shapes, sizes and ages in purpose-built aquariums. If you’re feeling brave, you might even try the Cage of Death: a perspex tank that’s lowered into an enclosure of crocs, so you and a friend can see them closer than you ever thought possible. If you’re lucky enough to be in the cage during feeding time, you’ll see their powerful jaws in full force.
Join a crocodile tour in Darwin
If you’re happy to explore further afield, join a day trip to Adelaide River, just an hour from Darwin for the Jumping Crocodile Cruise, or head a little further to the Mary River Wetlands cruise. If it’s more adventure you’re looking for, why not take a scenic flight with Outback Float Planes and airboat ride up Sweets Lagoon, cruise through the wetlands, or swim in their crocodile-safe enclosure.