We picked up the motorhome at around 10:30 on Friday June 26th, chuffed to have been given a complimentary upgrade to a deluxe model with microwave and multi-function monitor, and headed for Litchfield National Park.
The first stop was to inspect the large cathedral anthill and the field of magnetic antillls and wonder at the complex lives of these creatures. From what I remeber from the signs (and David Attenborough) termites like a constant temperature, and most (as in the cathedral anthills) go underground in the heat and cold, but magnetic termites build on floodplains, so they can't dig too deep or they'll hit water, so they align the mound so it faces east and west - it catches the early morning and late evening sun full on, but only a little of the hot midday sun, which helps to keep the temperature reasonably constant. Brown Honeyeaters were calling from the shrubbery but it was too hot to investigate. I gave a bottle of water to a young woman who was cycling with a full pack, and had underestimated how hot and thirsty the ride would be. We chatted for a moment, and I was impressed at how widely she had travelled by herself, on a bicycle. South America was next.
We walked out to the viewing platform on the gorge rim overlooking Tolmer Falls, which is one of three major waterfalls along the western face of the tabletop range. Tolmer was apparently the son of a French abbot, who arrived in South Australia where he joined the police force and was active in apprehending bushrangers. We saw no bushrangers, or any sign of the areas other notable species - the rare Orange Horseshoe Bat and the endangered Ghost Bat - which inhabit the many caves and crannies in the rockface. Brown Honeyeaters were the dominant bird species here with one posing obligingly for a portrait.
On to Wangi Falls (pronounced 'Wong-eye' - the Aboriginal name for the area around Wangi Station, not the falls, but the name has stuck.) We set up camp, made a list of the items that we had forgotten and would need to purchase on the road, and set off for a swim in the pool at the base of the twin falls. This is one of the most popular areas in the park, and justifiably so. A short (1.6 k) walk into the rainforest leads to a set of steps that climb up the escarpment to a viewing platform in the canopy of the rainforest. We sat here on the seats looking out into the forest canopy until the mosquitos suggested we keep moving. The trail goes on to the escarpment and winds back down to the pool. We finished the day with what was to become a ritual - a cold drink watching the sunset.
Next morning on the way out of the park we were again looking for a spot to swim, and headed for Buley Rockhole which is a series of pools and small cascades along Florence Creek as it rushes down a hillside.
Yellow Oriole Oriolus flavocinctus (pictured above)
Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia
Black Kite Milvus migrans
Whistling Kite Haliastur sphenurus
Australian Hobby Falco longipennis
Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo Calyptorhynchus banksii
Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Cacatua galerita
Red-winged Parrot Aprosmictus erythropterus
Blue-winged Kookaburra Dacelo leachii
Brown Honeyeater Lichmera indistincta
White-gaped Honeyeater Lichenostomus unicolor
Little Friarbird Philemon citreogularis
White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina papuensis
Varied Triller Lalage leucomela