Litchfield National Park – Home of Fascinating Termite Mounds and Waterfalls
Since I already missed Kakadu National Park Day Tour that day, the tour company offered me to join the Litchfield National Park Day Tour wherein the pick-up time will be 7:20 AM. And because I don’t have much option since I cannot reimburse my payment for the tour that I booked, I have to at least replace it with other tour. My full story of why I missed Kakadu day tour was described in my previous post [see here].
I crossed the road and walked towards the waiting area. While waiting, I was still thinking the tour that I missed (the Kakadu National Park Day Tour), I wished if only I was dropped off at the right location by the cab I will never miss the said tour. While I was waiting there was a man in his senior age sat not far from me and I thought that he maybe a tourist as well. Then he asked if I was waiting for the bus and I told him yes. That’s the beginning of our conversation. As far as I remembered he was at least 80 or more years old but he can still join such kind of tour. I didn’t ask his age because it was not appropriate to do so. I learned from him that he was on holiday with his wife but his wife never joined the tour because she already had it before. I told him my story of what happened to me at early morning, then he sympathized me on it and advised me to enjoy the tour that we will be having that day.
The tour bus arrived in the transit terminal before 7:20 AM and when I climbed on the bus, there were lots of tourist inside and I sat beside the window. The man who I talked while waiting for the bus came and he sat beside me. I asked his name but right now I can’t remember it anymore.
When the time to leave Darwin Transit Centre, the bus still picked-up some of the tourist in few more hotels before we hit the road towards Litchfield National Park.
Our first stop was along Stuart Highway in Noonamah where Strauss Airfield situated just beside the highway. The airfield was built in 1942 during World War II. During our visit, there are still few remnants that can be found but most of the things that we saw are just a reminders of the airfield and its story since it was decommissioned after the war in 1945.
We passed a small town after we turned right from Stuart Highway to Batchelor Road. And while inside the bus, I was able to capture the Replica of Karlstejn Castle at Havlik Park. Havlik Park was named after Bernie Havlik whom made the huge rock into castle as solution since he was not able to remove and maintain the rocky outcrop, an amazing discovery. Batchelor town is considered as the gateway to Litchfield National Park.
We had a brief stopped at Banyan Tree Caravan Park after passing the center of Batchelor Town for a quick breakfast or snack. And here, I had a glimpse of places within Litchfield National Park through its maps drawn in the store wall and while looking into it, I wondered which places we will be visiting in the tour.
From Batchelor Town, we took the Rum Jungle Road towards Litchfield National Park. Then we took Litchfield Park Road after. When we reached the Cathedral Termite Mounds, I felt surprised. I only know that termites destroys houses and they were like household enemies. I saw ads when I lived in Australia how huge problem when your house were attacked by termites. When we got off the bus and when we approached the Giant Cathedral Termite Mound, I never expected that termites will be able to build such structure like what we were seeing at that time. They call it Cathedral Termite Mound because of its resemblance to cathedral shapes.
There are at two gigantic cathedral termite mounds that we saw and both of them are taller than human. There is one surrounded by metal bench to protect it from humans as it is considered around 50 or more years old which is even older than myself. Not far from special cathedral termite mound, another one also stands though it shapes are somewhat similar to the first one we saw, the second mound was not surrounded by metal bench, it was a cathedral termite mound in a natural settings and surrounded with grass and trees. It said that Cathedral termites build their nests on well-drained soils.
We returned to our bus and we took the Litchfield Park Road again and we enjoyed the other cathedral termite mounds that we saw along the road but smaller in sizes and honestly there are lots of them astray in the wilderness of the park. Then, we stopped again and I was wondering what we were looking at that time and our guide told us about the Magnetic Termite Mounds. At first, I thought we were looking at cemetery and then I realized that we were looking for another type of termite mounds which is Magnetic Termite Mounds. If I was already surprised after seeing Cathedral Termite Mounds, I was more amazed when I saw their mounds. Because all of the mounds are flat like cement from a distance and I was wondering how these termites able to create a perfectly flat mound upward.
Magnetic Termite said to commonly build their nest at seasonally flooded black soil plains. Their mounds are often widely scattered but when grouped it was like graveyard like pattern. One amazing fact that scientist learned when they observed how Magnetic Termite able to build a mound that is north-south aligned. At first they thought that it’s because of the sun, but after they did an experiment, they learned that these termites has their own built-in compass. When scientist artificially change the direction of magnetic field, termites dutifully followed and built repairs to their mound in the alignment of these magnets and not to Earth’s magnetic field. A wonderful information to learn about these termites.
The first falls that we visited was Florence Falls. Our group never had a chance to swim in this falls since its plunge pool were closed at that time, but we got a chance to have a scenic bush and monsoon vine forest walk towards the viewing platform. To enjoy the trip, I took my time to appreciate the nature that surrounds me and saved souvenirs through photography.
Next falls that we had a chance to see during the tour was Tolmer Falls, the viewing platform that we visited combines to see the gorge, the wilderness of the lowland from the top and the falls itself. Tolmer Falls is one of the falls which made after some part of Tabletop plateau has been eroded where some water stored with the plateau.
At the viewing platform, aside from enjoying Tolmers Falls, panoramic scenery of the nearby wilderness can be seen at the lookout too. I felt fascinated after seeing how vast it is.
This was the place where we had our cold buffet lunch for that day and where I had a slice of their famous mango cheesecake as desert. After tasted that it was really good, I bought another one to fill me up.
At Wangi Falls was where our group stays longer because most of the visitor in the tour bus got their chance to swim in the falls. And for all the three falls that we saw within the tour, Wangi has the most numbers of visitors and most number of people who went for swimming. I never got a chance to swim in this falls as I saw that it was quite deep and all my stuff were still on my luggage which I never bothered to get my swimming stuff as I don’t want to reorganize my bag while I was in the tour.
After the tour, we returned to Darwin around 6PM in the evening. And I was dropped near my hotel in The Cavenagh Hotel. I checked-in, retrieved Telstra sim card that I reserved, had dinner and rest for the night for the big days ahead of me for the 9 Days adventure in the wilderness of Northern Territory and Western Australia.