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Litchfield National Park

blog-0086720001399345019.jpgSouth of Darwin is a well-known park, Litchfield National Park. Several people we have talked to mentioned Litchfield as a must-see park. It was just off our planned route of travel so we planned to spend the day exploring the park. We decided to drive to the far end of the park, there is only one road into the park, not a loop through the park. We would be driving into the park and then seeing the sights on the way out. That was the plan but when we got to the first stop, the magnetic termite mounds we decided to make a quick restroom stop and see the termite mounds at the same time. Magnetic termites are found nowhere else in the world. The termites aren’t magnetic, neither are their mounds. Their mounds are long narrow mounds when viewed from above and the elongated direction lines up north-south.

There are several waterfalls in the park which are easily visited. There is a short walk to see each of them. We started with the most remote of the falls, Wangi Falls. On our way to the falls I spotted a hawk attacking its prey across a large lawn. It must have missed because it came up quickly and landed in a tree not far from us. We identified it as a Grey Goshawk.

This waterfall consists of two separate parallel falls. One is larger than the other and both were flowing strongly. As we reached the plunge pool to view the falls we saw a large Gowana (Australian for lizard) sunning on the rocks. I estimated the total length of this lizard at 30 inches from tip of nose to the tip of its tail. It sat with only minor movements until a hawk flew overhead. It watched the hawk carefully as long as it was in view then relaxed again. After viewing the falls we hiked up to a platform that overlooks the rainforest. On the way we saw numerous fruit bats in the trees. The trail normally loops over the river above the falls and then returns to the plunge pool but the bridge over the river was closed and the trail to the bridge was closed because of a controlled burn that had been conducted several days before. So we returned on the same trail.

Before leaving we spotted another bird, a Great Bower Bird. This bird courts its mate by assembling a bower of miscellaneous objects in an area. Stones, sticks, leaves, sometimes manmade objects, shiny metal scraps, aluminum foil, glass, etc. This is done to impress the female. I guess it is something like an art project for the bird. I was able to approach quite close but never saw the bower itself, only the bird.

After that it was two more waterfalls, Tolmer Falls is a high narrow falls which we viewed from across the valley while looking down into the plunge pool directly below us. The valley was quite rugged and the view was spectacular looking down the valley out to open country beyond. Above the falls was a natural rock bridge which just added a little extra to this beautiful falls.

The last falls was Florence Falls. This falls is another dual fall with two separate falls. This is the only waterfall which is safe to swim in the plunge pool. The others are inhabited by crocodiles and swimming is prohibited for obvious reasons. We talked it over and decided not to climb down to the plunge pool for a swim though it did look quite inviting. It was the end of the day and both of us were ready to put our feet up for a while.

Our park for the night was the Big 4 Caravan Park in Batchelor, NT. This park has Net 4 for internet. We signed up with them when we were on the east coast and used it numerous times but hadn’t seen a park with that internet service for quite a while. It was nice to have plenty of time with the internet and we made good use of the service while there. We got one final new bird at sunset. As I was showering I heard a cacophony of bird chatter outside. When I went out of the shower house I was greeted by a good size flock of lorikeets settling into the palm trees for the evening. A quick look with the binoculars and we were able to identify them as Red-collared Lorikeets. They have a dark blue head, red collar in back, red breast with a black band across the belly, some yellow around the legs and a bright green back and tail. This is definitely a wow bird. They quieted down after sunset and we never heard them until they were ready to disperse into the surrounding rainforest the next morning.


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