HARTLEY’S CROCODILE ADVENTURES & PALM COVE
Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures is a relaxing 40 minute scenic drive north of Cairns in Wangetti. (15 minutes drive north of Palm Cove and 20 minutes south of Port Douglas) We have never seen so many crocodiles before, not even at Australia Zoo. There are lots of crocodile enclosures with timber boardwalks that provide elevated viewing as you journey through a range of natural habitats giving you plenty of opportunities to see crocs without worrying about crowds. Definitely attend the scheduled croc show in the specially designed amphitheatre as they are very educational and will have you on the edge of your seat as the keepers demonstrate the notorious death roll and head shake. The kids loved the crocodile river cruise watching the saltwater crocs lurking about in the murky water then jumping out to try and get the chicken being dangled from a pole on the side of the boat and then spying them lying on the banks with their mouths wide open cooling off.
Crocodiles are sometimes referred to as our living day dinosaurs: they roamed the earth 200 million years ago, alongside Tyrannosaurus rex and brontosaurus. They survived both the mass extinction of the dinosaurs and the Ice Age. A fascinating creature.
There are also many other animals to see as well…snakes, cassowaries, blue winged kookaburras, Komodo dragon, wombats, koalas, emus, lizards, quolls, kangaroos and wallabies. There’s also a Tropical Bird Aviary and Predatory Bird Aviary and a reptile display. The kids loved how close they could get to the owls that were just snoozing.
We spent about half a day here, we got there early though and took the tour of their commercial Crocodile Farm where Hartleys' have been farming and exporting estuarine crocodile meat and skins since 1989 and have since gained a reputation worldwide for the high quality skins they offer. It was very informative however the tour of the farming area may not be to everyone’s liking. Whilst they go to great lengths to keep the animals in good condition I completely understand that some people see crocodile farms as inhumane, unclean and overcrowded. If this is you, then you can simply opt out of doing the farming tour. And maybe keep your eyes closed as you walk past the crocodile skin handbags on your exit through the gift shop!
We couldn’t head back to Cairns without stopping at Palm Cove. It is a very relaxing beautiful beach village with not really much to do except beach walks or dining at one of the beautiful restaurants along the beachfront. It is known as the spa capital of Australia with some of the best dining and accommodation in the country and I regretfully say that staying here for a night was simply not in our budget.
We walked along the manicured esplanade looking out over the water of the Coral Sea. The masses of palm trees that hang over the beach is superb. Keep in mind that stinger season is between November and May and even in the netted area, you can still get stung and there are regular croc sightings here too. There are also no waves for surfing.
A long sandy stretch of pure tranquillity and we were glad we stopped there to have our hot chips on the beach.