Today we had an early start, heading off to explore Litchfield National Park with Nicole, Kate and her two friends – Kristen and Georgie.
We headed off before the others to Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve (Kate and Nicole had been there previously on a tour) a wetland home to numerous water birds. In the 1950s investors pumped a load of money into the Humpty Doo Rice Project, a scheme to turn the Adelaide River floodplains into a major rice-growing enterprise. It lasted about 10 years due to poor infrastructure and highly variable seasons, however the dam became an important Dry-season refuge for wildlife.
We took the 2.2km Woodlands to Lillies walk, which by its sheer name one would imagine that it should take you to lilies, but no it went nowhere literally nowhere – not happy, as remember its not even 10am and the thermometer has already hit 30deg, there have a been a few storms this week so the humidity has risen alittle and i am dripping with perspiration – yep not a pretty sight, especially for no reward ! We then drove along the dam wall where we did see the lillies we came to see, and just standing there taking pictures had me producing my own natural springs and going through a shirt by 10am. You know that you are trouble when you are a sweaty person and you are dripping so much that you gross yourself out – this weather better result in weight loss !!!
From the lillies we headed further down the Arnhem Highway to Adelaide River Crossing for our Croc Jumping cruise where we met up with the others. Here we cruised the river looking for the beasts of the depth to feed them a pork chop and see them jump. These creatures whilst man-eating and not exactly the prettiest of the animal kingdom are magnificent to watch. The boat would be cruising along and then the tour guide would tap the chop on the water and instantly these animals were water-skiing along at a great rate of knots, and then to watch them curl the tail lift their head then raise their bodies out of the water – quite an impressive sight indeed.
From the crocs we headed back through Humpty Doo, where we stopped at the famous Humpty Doo Hotel, which was like walking into a crocodile Dundee film. The only females in the pub were behind the bar, the beer was kept cold in old ice fridges and there were ruggers and blue bonds singlets everywhere and we felt like aliens in another world. So we purchased our stubbie coolers and high tailed it out of there before they found out where we all worked !!
With our Humpty Doo stubbie holders safely secured in the vehicles we headed towards Litchfield NP, a 1500-sq-km 115 km south of Darwin, which encompasses the spectacular Tabletop Range, a wide sandstone plateau mostly surrounded by cliffs. The parks main attractions are four waterfalls that drop off the edge of this plateau, unusual termite mounds and curious sandstone formations
Our first stop inside the park was at the magnetic termite mounds, a field of curious termite mounds that are all aligned roughly north-south and the nearby giant mounds of the aptly named cathedral termites.
From the mounds we headed deep into the park to Wangi Falls for a refreshing swim in the plunge pool. The falls flow year round however the current can be quite strong in the wet and there is a marker showing when the water is too high to be safe for swimming.
From Wangi we headed to Tolmer Falls. The falls cascade spectactually into a deep, narrow gorge, screen a series of caves that form the largest known breeding site for the endangered orange horseshoe bat and ghost bat and as such there is no swimming at these falls to protect the habitat.
From Tolmer we headed to Florence Falls, and then another refreshing swim at Buley Rockhole, a popular spot of bubbling cascades and pools.
With the sun dipping we headed back to the city for what appeared to be a funky cool idea for dinner – cushions on the floor of the Thai restaurant – actually turned out to be uncomfortable and hot, but the food as always was great.