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Image credit - Andrew Mevissen ©

Encounters with crocodiles in the Northern Territory

Andrew Mevissen and his teenagers come face to face with a prehistoric beast in Darwin.

Teenagers are notoriously hard to please when it comes to holidays. But tell them they can swim with the world’s largest reptile in a ‘Cage of Death’ – and Instagram the terrifying encounter to their impressed followers – and they are in front of the queue at the airport.

The Cage of Death is a cylindrical, reinforced, glass container, lowered into a pool of giant, saltwater crocodiles so it’s courageous occupants can experience a unique, up-close and personal encounter with these formidable, reptilian monsters. The adrenaline attraction – at Darwin‘s Crocosaurus Cove park – is limited to teenagers 15 years and older, with a brave parent required to join their teen if he or she is under 18.

Experiencing Australia’s only crocodile dive myself, I was alarmed at the sheer size of the scaly, one-tonne beasts which stretch up to 6 metres long and boast jaws of 13-centimetre teeth that can kill their prey instantly with 16,000 kilos of pressure. While you are safe inside the 3-metre-tall cage, which is half-filled with water, you can dive below the surface to come almost face to face with the terrifying creatures which are fed meat to bring them closer to the cage.

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If you’re lucky, a croc will snap its jaws right in front of your face, showcasing the awesome force of nature. A photographer is on hand to capture all the action and you’re encouraged to perform underwater stunts to entertain the ‘salties’ and the watching crowd. It makes a perfect action adventure for teenagers eager to Snapchat their fearless feat to their fans.

A side benefit of the Cage of Death is the brief relief from Darwin’s heat in the cool water. But if you have croc-loving kids under 15, there’s also a shallow pool at Crocosaurus Cove where they can wade in and see other crocodiles up close against the glass. Visitors can also hold baby crocodiles, attend croc-feeding sessions and see Australia’s largest display of reptiles, including a huge range of snakes. A massive, 200,000-litre, two-storey aquarium is home to an array of local barramundi, whip rays, archer fish and other creatures.

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Hot tip

Visit Crocosarus Cove, which is located in the heart of the city, in the dry season from May to September when the salties are more active.

Another great find in Darwin – and an ideal place to soothe the nerves after eyeballing the crocs – is the Metro Advance Apartments and Hotel a short walk from Crocosaurus Cove. The 72-room property offers families an affordable alternative to the bigger, better-known hotels in the Top End capital.

The great advantage of apartments for families, of course, is the home-away-from-home space and ability to cook your own meals. Metro Advance Apartments features a range of spacious, one- and two-bedroom apartments, each with a living and dining area, full kitchen and laundry, Foxtel and free, hi-speed Wi-Fi. There's also a great pool with sun loungers open from 7am to 9.30pm with an adjacent barbecue area, but the real asset of this great little property, I found, was the super-friendly and helpful staff eager to make your stay a happy one.

The apartments are located in the heart of the CBD and close to supermarkets for your supplies. My tip is to ask for an apartment with direct, walk-out access to the pool, which is certain to impress the kids.

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