In Singapore, if we want to see animals, we head to the zoo. In the Northern Territory, it is often just a matter of keeping your eyes wide open and staying alert. Sometimes, you might spot a wallaby or even a crocodile.
So it was quite a thrill to be able to spot all kinds of wildlife during my trip in the NT. One thing I realised is that I don't like posing alone in photos much so I ended up posing with a carpet python, a baby crocodile and a blue-tongued lizard. Definitely memorable moments!
Here are my 10 most memorable wildlife experiences in the NT.
1. MEET THE CARPET PYTHON
At the Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise, before you hop on the cruise, guests are introduced to a large Carpet Python that you see pictured. I had decided on the bus that I was going to hold the Python so I made sure to heed the warning on the brochure that cautioned us not to apply any sunscreen or insect repellant beforehand.
Once we had the opportunity, I volunteered to carry the snake right away. I think I thought it was best to get it over and done with in case I changed my mind.
As it turns out, Carpet Pythons are not poisonous at all and in fact, anything all pythons are not poisonous so I guess I really wasn't that brave after all.
2. MEET THE JUMPING SALTWATER CROCODILES
Now if you want to see a wild crocodile jump for his food, the Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise is the place to be. Here, tourists board a boat that drifts up and down the Adelaide River dangling buffalo meat out to lure the crocs out of their hiding places.
Apparently, the crocodiles will sink down to the seabed and push it's tail downwards which enables it to jump up and catch the meat with it's jaws.
You might think that having seen the ferocious crocodiles, bird spotting might seem dull but it was not the case at all. The birds that we spotted while on the Yellow Water Cruise was certainly a hot favourite with the bloggers.
Perhaps it was the fact that we were stunned into silence as the sun's rays peeked ever so slowly through the misty fog in shades of salmon pink or it could have been the sheer sight of the numerous feathered friends that we spotted that morning? Or perhaps it was the water lilies that stretched along the side of the river. Take a look at the photos and I'll let you be the judge of that.
4. MEET MAGPIE GEESE AND SPOONBIILS @ ANBANGBANG BILLABONG
Some of you will have watched Crocodile Dundee, a 1986 Australian comedy film set in Australia Outback and in New York. Well, after a walk at Nourlangie Rock, we dropped by the Anbangbang Billabong where scenes from Crocodile Dundee was filmed. As we stood there, we first spotted a number of water birds such as the Magpie Geese and spoonbills.
Then suddenly, our guide, Luke spotted a saltwater crocodile lying steathly on the bank of the river. We stopped in our tracks and passed the binoculars around. Suddenly the 500m between us and the crocodile seemed a little lacking. Here on land, we didn't have the safety of being on a boat and well, we didn't dally there for too long.
We also sighted a group of people who walked up to the edge of the water and having seen the crocodile, that seemed a little too close for comfort.
If you plan to head to there, remember to bring a binoculars because you won't want to get too close to the edge of the water. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my zoom lens on that day and so there are no close ups of the birds that we spotted.
5. POSE WITH A BABY CROCODILE
Okay, technically this baby crocodile doesn't live in the wilderness but I hope you won't mind me adding this to the list. If you want to pose with a baby crocodile, the place to head to is Crocosaurus Cove. The baby crocodile had his mouth bound and so the trigger happy bloggers took quite a number of different poses with this baby.
6. FEED A CROCODILE
Now you might be thinking, posing with a crocodile that has his mouth tied up is fine but you would much rather try feeding one of the big crocs. Well, at Crocosaurus Cove, you can!
The enclosure is all locked up and as you enter, there is certainly the sense of danger in the air. Thankfully, with the guidance of the experienced crocodile handlers, Ai and Leo both managed to feed the big crocs successfully and retained their limbs in the process.
We also had the opportunity to fish for a crocodile where young crocs (2-3 years old) would jump for the chicken wings that dangled on the fishing rod. It was quite nerve-wrecking to fish and photograph myself at the same time so I caught a video of someone else in fishing for the crocodile and boy did they jump!
7. SWIM WITH A CROCODILE
When we arrived in Darwin, the town was abuzz with news that a man was taken by a crocodile. It was the headline on all the papers in the news stands. The reports mentioned that it was a young man who was local and after a few drinks with his friends, he decided to swim across the river, 20 mins away from the one that we were headed to. He was sadly never to be seen again.
However, there is one place in Darwin where you can safely swim with a crocodile and that is at the Crocosaurus Cove in the Cage of Death. In fact, it is the only place in Australia where you can experience this. From our group, Christina chose to take the plunge and swam with the big beast. The crocodile peacefully swam around the cage until the crocodile handlers brought out a um, snack for him. As his large jaws clamped down hard, I honestly wasn't so calm watching from a distance and I can't imagine what it was like for her inside. She definitely looked the picture of poise inside the cage of death but I'm sure she knew it was wiser to remain still even if she was panicking inside.
8. MEET THE REPTILESThe Crocs tend to steal the thunder at Crocosaurus Cove, but while you are there, do make time to head into the Reptile House and you might get the chance to carry a Stimson Python, the endangered Northern Blue-Tongue Lizard or the Western Beaded Dragon.
Ai and I were 'fortunate' to wander into the Reptile House at 12.30pm just as the Reptile feeding and presentation was taking place. Give me a cockroach any day but ask me to touch a lizard and I won't look so brave. But since the chance was presented, I mustered all my courage to hold the Blue-Tongued Lizard. Looking at the photo actually still sends goosebumps down my spine.
9. KANGAROO SPOTTING
During our time in Litchfield, we were fortunate to also catch sight of a Wallaby who was pregnant with a little joey. Our guide, Luke spotted her and she actually remained absolutely still while we snapped a quick shot for memory.
10. MEET THE TERMITES
Finally, we were introduced to the industrious termites who construct homes that from afar, look like tombstones. Made from soil, water, saliva and excrement, they feed on grass rather than wood and are a key part of the eco-system in Australia.
Amused by the height of this termite mound in particular, Tony attempted to jump as high as he could for the perfect shot with this unusually large termite mound. As we walked around the floodplains and checked out the different termite mounds, I was simply awestruck by the collective effort of these groups of tiny termites. Certainly, nature holds many lessons for us indeed.
And that wraps up my encounter with the wildlife in the Northern Territory. I hope you don't mind that I cheated a little and added in the termites too. What would you love to see if you were heading to the NT?
In my next post, I will share how the indigneous people lived alongside these creatures in a land that they both called home.
* This post is one in a series of posts called NT Travel Memoirs that seeks to record my most memorable moments during my recent trip to the Northern Territory, Australia lest I forget. A big thanks to Tourism NT and OMY for sponsoring this amazing trip as a prize for winning the Best Lifestyle Blog at the Singapore Blog Awards 2013.
For more information about the places that we visited, head over to the Australia Outback Adventure blog to read my posts or click on the links belowNT Travel Memoirs : Northern Territory, Australia
NT Travel Memoirs 1 : The Memorable Wildlife
NT Travel Memoirs 2 : The Memorable People
NT Travel Memoirs 3 : The Memorable Waterholes
NT Travel Memoirs 4 : The Memorable Desert
NT Travel Memoirs 5 : The Memorable Rock
NT Travel Memoirs 6 : The Memorable Markets
Now that you've read my Travel Memoirs, would you like to visit the Northern Territory for yourself? Check out the other posts written by my fellow travel mates and vote for your favourite. VOTE DAILY and increase your chances of winning a travel voucher worth $2000! (Voting period : 7 Oct 2013 - 28 Oct 2013)