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  • Day6

    Litchfield National Park

    August 24, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    24 August 2017

    Our last day of the tour was spent in Litchfield National Park.

    Litchfield is an old pastoral lease that was found to not be viable so it was made a national park. It doesn't have the World Heritage listing Kakadu has but is is still well looked after and has a lot of great spots to visit.

    One thing T and I have noticed as we travel around is that there are loads of tourists and backpackers. Many are from Europe we have come across Italians, Germans, Dutch (we think), and of course the ubiquitous Irish. The Mary River Retreat has a number of transient workers some stay a week, some many months but they are a valuable work force for the NT.

    First stop was the termite mounds, these insects are everywhere through the NT. They are actually not an ant but are more closely related to the cockroach. There are a number of different types of termite but of the 2 we saw today one builds the giant cathedral nests and the other builds the magnetic mounds.

    The termites expand their nests during the wet season picking up the wet soil and moving it to the top of the mounds without ever going outside. They say that 70% of the trees in the NT are termite affected and I would believe it, their mounds are everywhere and there are very few big trees up here. The magnetic termites are interesting, they have in-built compasses so they always build their nest in a fan shape running north/south. Scientists have set up false magnetic fields around the nest and sure enough the termites started aligning their nest to the new north/south.

    We then moved on to Florence Falls for a swim. These are spring-fed falls so they run right through the dry season. The pool was very deep, I couldn't stand, and it was very invigorating hanging off the wall under the falls. We then moved on to our next swimming spot Wangi Falls. These falls were bigger than Florence Falls but not as much water was going over them. Still it was a great swim on a very hot day.

    A note about the weather. It is the dry season of course so no rain and the temperatures have been over 34 degrees each day with high but not outrageous humidity. Around December the monsoons will arrive and flood everything.

    On the way back to Darwin we dropped by a mango farm for some mango ice cream and then headed back to Darwin

    The Mary River Retreat was excellent and is highly recommended. I have learned a lot in the last few days and have a greater respect for this country and the people who manage it.

    Tomorrow we head to the Tiwi Islands.
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