Thursday, June 11, 2009

Litchfield National Park

After a couple of days just taking it easy and enjoying being on no schedule, I was ready for a trip to see Litchfield National Park, so I booked a 1-day tour, so I could see the waterfalls and termite mounts it is famous for.
The tour-bus left at 7:30 am, and we headed for the Adelaide River where there was the option of going on the Jumping Crocodile Cruise, or go to Fog Dam to see the Window on the Wetland exhibit.
I guess I am a bit of a purist, and chumming to get the crocs to jump out of the water sounded just a bit to circus like for me, I chose the window on the Wetland option. Besides, I felt I had seen plenty of crocodiles in their natural state, so the possibility of spotting a few more birds sounded much more appealing to me.
As we pulled up, there was a couple of red-legged Bush Hens on the trail, and I got my camera out and managed to get a couple of good photos! Earlier, while we were waiting at Adelaide River I had seen a Fig Bird, and here there was a number of them flying about in the big trees, so I got a couple of decent photos of them as well – and they were a new bird for me, which I could add to my list of sightings! Needless to say, I was happy with my choice!
When all were aboard again, we drove a short distance to our lunch stop, before continuing on to Litchfield NP, where we first stopped to admire the huge Cathedral Termite mounts and the Magnetic Termite mounts that spread out over the bush and reminded me of gravestones. This is the only place in the world where these particular magnetic termites live, and they built their mounts from north to south as a way of controlling the temperature of the mounts – very clever!
Then we drove on to reach the first waterfall of the day - the Tolmer Falls. A short hike took us to the viewing platform from where we could look down on the impressive falls. The cliffs are so steep here that there is no way of getting down to the base of them and the pool below.
The next set of falls we drove to were the Wangi Falls, and they were even more impressive that the Tolmer Falls. Swimming had just been opened, but our driver would not let us swim here – they are treacherous, and one year a driver came home with 6 less passengers than he set out with! Very tragic, but due to strong undercurrents people drown here on a regular basis – especially in the beginning of the season where the water still runs very fast.
The 3rd set of falls we went to were the Florence Falls, where we would make our long stop, so we could walk the 150 steps down to the swimming hole at the base of the falls. It was a beautiful view, and I enjoyed the refreshing dip in the natural pool as I reached the bottom of the falls. Then I walked the beautiful path back along Shady Creek, and enjoyed the scenery as I slowly walked along, taking in the beauty of the area. I saw several birds along the way, and as I came up close to the car park I met a couple of the other passengers cooling off in the little creek. I joined them, and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the afternoon. The pool below the waterfalls were much more crowded, and full of young guys yelling and screaming and showing off. Here it was much more peaceful. As I was getting dressed a big Australian Goanna walked along, and he didn't seem to be afraid at all, but just walked by doing his goanna business.
As we drove back to Darwin I sat and enjoyed the passing landscape in the light of the setting sun – a landscape that was now familiar to me.
I walked the short walk from the drop-off downtown to the apartment in the sunset hour, enjoying the soft evening light and the warm breeze as I walked the now familiar streets. It had been another great day!

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