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Litchfield Park – what a day! – by Renee

by on July 8, 2016

We spent 14 hours on a ‘day trip’ from Darwin to see Litchfield National Park, one of two wonderful parks in the “top end” of Australia. We picked the absolutely best tour company we’ve ever booked with, complete with home cooked lunch, frequent yummy snacks (frozen orange slices – apparently something they take to eat in the desert!  so refreshing!), and enough education on how to survive in the ‘bush’ with everything from edible plants to toilet paper trees.  Thanks, Rob!

We saw MANY things, but here are my favorites.

Swimming in a waterfall pool in the Australian outback?  YEP!  Here is a photo of the kids and I swimming in the pool fed by Wangi Falls….lovely twin falls fed by rains filled crevices and trickle out all summer.  The water was COLD, clear and the bottom of the pool was mostly covered in rocks.  Alex and I were glad that we had our Teva sandals on.

As you enter then swimming area at Wangi Falls (which was crowded with tourists, as the big tour groups come here) we saw two interesting signs.

David was able to get the WIFI working…which made him happier than getting in the cold, cold water (he eventually did get in…but not quickly).

Our guide Rob told us that he never takes tour groups to swim in the pools the first week or so that they are “cleared” of saltwater crocodiles or “salties” after the wet season.  Apparently the park rangers take out the salties and then put big white beachballs on the surface of the ponds.  They leave the beachballs overnight and if they come back in the morning and the ball is punctured, they realize they missed a croc.  One of the waterfall swimming holes just next to Wangi Falls had this happen last week — here is the sign showing Suprise Falls still closed.

After all that we’ve seen and learned about salties in the last 20 days, I was a bit concerned about swimming.  But with a hundred others in the pool, we figured the odds were “ever in our favor”.

A second swimming/hike we did was to Bluey Rockhole…apparently croc free as it is on the top of the mesa – so crocs can’t get there.  The water was warmer…and no other visitors.

The other thing that I really liked on this trip was….termite mounds.  Yes, sand castle-like structures, as hard as cement.  They build for something like 50 plus years to get 25 feet tall.  There are two kinds that we saw, Cathedral and Magnetic.

Here is a Cathedral type the shape is more round.  The mound has folds around the outside guaranteeing some cool spots in the interior folds.

Here is a whole field of Magnetic mounds… these are flatter and look like giant tombstones (all our Alabama readers will know what I mean).  The magnetic termite mounds are oriented north-south, so that they can regulate temperature inside….when the sun hits one side they can move to the other side where it is cooler.
 The only place that they weren’t totally lined up facing north was when they were built in shade of some sort…guess they don’t really know N-S-E-W but work more with temperatures.  Pretty smart termites !

When we decided to come to Australia, there were a few things I wanted to do.

  1. Pet a koala
  2. See the Southern Cross in the night sky
  3. Snorkle the Great Barrier Reef
  4. Visit the Sydney Opera house

Terminte mounds were not on the list…but if I had know how cool they were, I would have put them as #5.

My list is now complete.  We are off to spend today in the Darwin Wave pool which is right by our totally luxury apartment.  Then tomorrow we fly to Singapore.  We are celebrating the fact that we decided to skip Taiwan on this trip as Super Typhoon  Nepartak has the entire country shut down.  Hope it moves on out before we head up to Hong Kong and China!


Some additions by David:

– We were up early enough to watch the sun rise over the outback

 – My favorite stop on the trip was an amazing wetland called Fogg Dam… The variety of wildlife was amazing, including a Monitor Lizard right by the road

– Fire is a huge part of the ecosystem here, and it’s shocking to see how blasé they are about it.  They want every acre to burn once every 5 years, and they just light the fires when needed and walk away.  Can you imagine in California, driving along the road and the brush is burning, and nobody cares?

 – I couldn’t get a photo, but driving south out of Darwin on the main north/south highway through the center of Australia and the sign said “Alice Springs… 1,498 km, Adelaide 3,028 km”.   And not much else.












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  1. Aunt Ginny permalink

    I guess amidst a 14 hour day and long rides, swimming and risking crocodile sightings was well worth it. Looks so cool and refreshing. Miss you all.

  2. Sofie Vandeputte permalink

    Interesting story on the termite mounds. Do you actually see termites? I guess not: you would not be so relaxed and smiley on the picture 🙂
    Different termites building Cathedral vs. Magnetic?
    Love your posts!

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