A Travellerspoint blog

An Encounter with the Wildlife of the Northern Territories

Tuesday 4th of August 2015

sunny 31 °C

Today we were off to the Litchfield National Park with a company called Walleroo Tours. The tone of the trip was set before we left our apartment as one of the things we were asked to bring with us was "a sense of humour and a big smile", and were advised that this would be provided in return. Our guide Steve was very welcoming from the start and so it was no time at all before there was plenty of banter in the group, particularly between the Australians who were all lovely and friendly. We were told that our first stop would be at the Adelaide River (which has nothing to do with the city of the same name nearly 2,000 miles to the south). When we arrived we were handed over to Pat, who was taking over from Steve for that part of the trip. We were given a very clear and unambiguous safety briefing which in summary was, don't put any of your possessions or more importantly any part of your anatomy over the side of the boat unless you want to lose it or your life. Slightly scarily we were only allowed to pass down the jetty and on to our boat two at a time, and we could see one or two smaller crocs basking in the shallow waters nearby.

Pat was very knowledgable about the wildlife and seemed passionate about the crocs that inhabit the river. These were 'salt water' crocodiles, but this is a bit of a misnomer in that they can also inhabit freshwater, it is just that they have adapted to be able to live in salt water as well. Pat knew the places where they were most likely to be, and once spotted he lured them up out of the water with the offer of chicken carcasses.


It all seemed very ecologically friendly despite being quite touristy and Pat reassured us that the crocodiles had no ability to process anything other than the fact that there was potential food moving in front of their noses. Despite this there was one woman in the group who continued to ask questions about whether they would mind being teased! It felt like she was missing the point. All in all we saw at least half a dozen at close quarters as we travelled up and down the river. The largest was approximately 5 metres in length and it was terrifying to see how easily it was able to crunch through the animal bones.


We also saw white faced herons in the tops of the trees and Pat also threw smaller pieces of chicken into the river to lure Whistling Kites who swooped down in large numbers to feed.


Pat was constantly talking to us about the wildlife and the river, and is such a character that he made the whole excursion both exciting and fascinating. When we arrived back at the landing stage Steve was waiting for us and made a joke about the fact that Pat always gets people back late because he talks so much!


From the Adelaide River we then made our way into the National Park and our first stop was to look at some termite mounds. Some of them (called cathedral mounds) were huge and were as high as four metres, dwarfing the people standing next to them. Steve explained how we could tell if they were still inhabited by termites, and that once abandoned would be taken over by ants, who would no longer maintain them.


We also saw some of the magnetic termite mounds, specially built in order to be able to take advantage of the heat of the sun's rays or not depending on the time of day. Steve also explained how the park rangers managed the migration of the salt water crocodiles into the non salt water areas. This was essentially because they are much larger and more aggressive than the smaller fresh water crocs. Once we had finished looking at the termite mounds we all piled back into the bus and were driven to the Wangi Waterfalls where we were going to have lunch.


Some people went for a swim in the pool at the base of the falls, but having been briefed on the presence of freshwater crocodiles "only small ones that won't hurt you unless you try and touch them", and told about the care needed in getting in and out, the water snakes and other miscellaneous hazards Nigel and I decided to go for a short walk into the fringes of the rain forest instead. Steve had told us about a short walk that would take us to an area with a large number of fruit bats. It was amazing hearing the noise they made hanging upside down in the treetops. Nigel wasn't quite so happy when he got showered in bat droppings though! Lunch was cold meat, salads and fruit and went down well and before we knew it we were on our way to Florence Falls lookout.


Some of us took the mile long walk between there and the Buley Rock Hole. Despite it being a really short distance it was still quite tiring due to the heat and humidity. Once we arrived at Buley, again some people swam but I settled for paddling my feet and Nigel decided to stay dry. Once every one was ready we left the national park and started to make our was back to Darwin. The plan was that we would go to Fanny Bay, from where we would watch the sun setting over the sea. We arrived with just enough time to set up a table with lovely prawns, dips and bottles of bubbly, take some group photographs, before the sun started to dip down towards the horizon.


It was absolutely beautiful, especially as we were also serenaded by some lorikeets. Everyone agreed it had been a thoroughly amazing day.

Posted by Gill's Travels 01:54 Archived in Australia Tagged waterfalls australia river crocodiles termites

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.