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4 Going Bush!

National Park Beauty

sunny

Tuesday 1st June (Winter??)
After getting everything stowed away and hitched to the car we raced off and had a shower in preparation for travel to Litchfield Safari Camp, where we were booked for two nights, in the Litchfield NP about two hours drive south of Darwin. An easy ride with no traffic issues made this a pleasant trip, especially after we entered the Park itself and enjoyed winding roads and a variety of flora along the way.
We stopped outside the small town of Batchelor for morning tea, and headed off to our destination.
We drove via the Wangi Falls camp site but were not overly impressed as the sites all seemed to be neatly separated into what looked like a car park with shrubs! Driving on tour destination we arrived just in time for a late lunch. The last, probably one Km, was on a dusty red gravel road that had quite a lot of corrugations, but without incident we arrived at a rather spartan-looking camp site with a lot of greenery. The ‘reception’ office and most of the other ‘official’ sort of buildings all looked very down market. However, we were checked in and asked to select from any of the available sites.
We quickly got set up and enjoyed a brief lunch followed by the logical question - “Now that we are here in the middle of a large National Park, what are we going to do first?” After conferring with our new neighbours we headed up the sealed road to the Bamboo Creek Tin Mine. The mine was abandoned many years ago after attempts to cope with the very dry Dry Season, and the very Wet Season caused flooding over the site making it uneconomic to operate. Back down the road to Walker Creek to explore as the day came to an end. Brian drove us back to camp – very carefully, as there were wallabies crossing the road quite frequently and, having had an ‘argument’ with a kangaroo in a previous trip, wisely took his time. We also saw a wild dingo cross the road and disappear (easily) into his bush camouflage.
One thing that was important was that there was no TV, radio or phone connection to the outside world, so we are totally oblivious to any happenings in the wider world.
Dinner and early night.

Wednesday 2nd June
Another beautiful morning and, after a pancake breakfast we headed to the famous Wangi Falls a few Km along the road. Very beautiful falls to photograph, then we headed off along the increasingly steep climb through the rainforest (jungle) and then along a very rocky ridge and down the quite difficult climb back to the base of the falls. The top area above the falls, like most other falls in the area, was very arid and stony, unlike the tropical greenery around the lower part of the pool area.
Sadly the swimming in the pool at the foot of the waterfall was closed because the water was quite dangerous and still very high, meaning that the dreaded estuarine crocodiles were almost certainly still able to access the pool – and any welcome swimmer for lunch!
Talking of lunch, we then headed back to camp for our lunch, then off down the road to the Tolmer Falls for a short walk. A pleasant place to visit and enjoy, but no swimming here either, so back to camp for a breather after all the fresh air and walking in the heat.
After a very pleasant meal Mary & I watched the WALL-E DVD while Brian and Maureen went to the Wangi Falls ranger’s evening for a talk about the National Parks. Seems that the week prior someone had left their dog in charge of their van for a brief time and came back to see a large python starting to enjoy their lunch of Spot! The same camp had had a deadly adder in the shower/toilet block a few days earlier, so, we certainly watched where we were walking!
A few wallabies came to graze on the nearby vacant camp grass, but weren’t interested in any long-term attachment! Another cool night so we resurrected the doona for the night.

Thursday 3rd June
Another cool night, then we headed off to visit Buley Rockhole, adjacent to the famous Florence Waterfalls. We saw the usual wallaby scamper off into the nearby bush and disappear while we drove to the site. As we approached the Buley Rockhole pools we noted an extremely smashed up small car, apparently the accident was a very recent one that resulted in some serious injuries requiring helicopter evacuation.
Arriving at Buley we headed off to admire the beautiful waterfall with cool water rushing downstream. We then set off through the scrubby bush, much of it having recently been burned off in anticipation of a long Dry season. The track was easier than the previous ones in which we had to really clamber over rocks and logs. A couple of young men came towards us from the Florence Falls end and advised us to watch out as they had encountered a snake on the path just a few minutes earlier. Mary & Maureen immediately went into very high alert mode, while Brian and I kept up our normal watchfulness! No snake was seen, sadly!
The Florence Falls are quite attractive as they manifest as two major falls along with many smaller ones up and downstream. Altogether a very pleasant place to visit, however, as at Wangi Falls previously, we observed the various coach tour companies whisk their customers quickly to the nearest photo opportunity, and then back on the coach for the next photo shoot. I observed to the others that these poor tourists were ‘just seeing the beauty, but we were experiencing it’. Sad, but true, as we took time to immerse ourselves in the place and the moment.
One aspect throughout the whole Top End experience was the absolute domination of Darwinian dogma, almost everywhere that we visited, but especially in the many beautiful rock formations. The explanation, at Wangi Falls, on the birth of their Flying Fox young was patently absurd, but it was all written down in humourless pseudo-science. The other, equally, sad point that I noted was that there were many places from which all, except local Aboriginal people, were completely banned. All in the name of Aboriginal ‘spirituality’ which is apparently superior to all others! NO swimming at this sacred site etc. The patent pagan influence over the whole Top End is quite oppressive, I believe, and needs to be addressed – but I doubt this will happen.
After the rigours of another morning walk and climb (135 steps down to Florence Falls base – and I climbed back up them while the others went another route back to the car park), left us enjoying a peaceful time on a very pleasant day to get some R & R.
Please be patient with the updates. This past week we have been completely isolated in Litchfield National Park, and, the Blognow site can be very difficult to get the updates updated. Thanks.

Friday 4th June
As we enjoyed breakfast we noted that three Stone-faced Curlews were standing under the sprinkler system and just enjoying a nice cool shower! They were not so happy when the sprinkler was moved elsewhere. Isn’t nature lovely at times?
Another day in the Park and this time we decided to do the Greenant to Tjaetaba Falls walk. The first part was very easy and pleasant as we walked through patches of jungle followed by drier low level brush. However, the track became quite difficult with many stones that took a while to navigate, but we managed. A pleasant view of the waterfall from a close-by lookout, and then the descent. We did notice that wild pigs had made a mess of the environment by digging up large patches of ground in search of food. As a mandated pest they are controlled by the Park staff by culling, as are water buffalo, wild horses and cane toads.
During the late afternoon we walked around the perimeter fence and saw many wallabies, who did not wait for us to get too close but skipped off into the underbrush along the pathway.

Saturday 5th June
We reluctantly departed from Litchfield NP and headed to Katherine for our next stopover. We booked two nights at the Shady Lane CP as our previous stay had been a good one.
Near to the Adelaide River village we stopped for morning tea and saw the Ghan train heading south from Darwin to Adelaide. We then went to the nearby War Cemetery at Coomalie where several hundred victims of the Japanese bombing of Darwin in February 1942 are commemorated. Many were service personnel but there were several civilians who had been simply in the Darwin Post Office at the time of the first bombing raids and who died immediately or subsequently from injuries sustained in the attack. A moving experience, and perhaps Japanese tourists should be ‘encouraged’ to visit as we visit Hiroshima, for example.
We arrived back at Shady Lane and were allocated the same site as previous, but by now it was very dusty rather than green grass. We made the most of the stopover with getting all the washing up to date and some shopping to get us through to the NT/WA State border in about a week’s time, being careful not to buy too many vegetables as they have a quarantine station at the border for some items.

Monday 7th June
Although we had everything ready for an early start one of our camp neighbours stopped to share his information on some of our future stopovers. Campsites are wonderful places for the exchange of travel intelligence on road conditions, caravan parks and so on. However, we managed to get on the road and stopped in Katherine for a replacement light bulb for the van, an extra water container (so we could have longer free stopovers in Parks), and petrol. Petrol is cheaper in Katherine than we will encounter for many days on the road into the top of Western Australia.
We looked at a couple of free stops but missed out on grabbing a spot to park and stay, so onwards to Victoria River Roadhouse for a couple of nights, where we were given useful intelligence about van sites in Kununurra (WA), as these are often hard to obtain.
Once again, away from the city glare of lights we could marvel at the beauty of the Milky Way in all its splendour.

Tuesday 8th June
I was woken before dawn by some ‘cowboy’ running a forklift around the main complex. After a while I decided to get up and try my hand at barramundi fishing at the nearby bridge. As all rivers contain crocodile warnings Mary was a bit concerned – possibly by the thought that she would have to drive the van back to Brisbane without me!!
A careful check of the river bank showed no recent croc signs so I set about trying to catch one of the local monster fish. After a while I noticed what certainly appeared to be a croc down river so I increased my vigilance, especially as it disappeared from view shortly after! Not a good sign. However, the fish were not interested in my appeals to them to visit with us for dinner so, after a couple of hours, I returned to the van. There I was greeted by Brian and Mary, ready to take the Escarpment Climb just down the main road. So, a quick coffee and off we drove to the start point. It was getting hotter as we climbed up and quite easy, then a much more difficult climb over the rocky path. We made it to the top and were greeted by spectacular views of the Victoria River and the red/brown vertical cliffs in the area.
The journey down was quite slow because of the unstable rocky pathway, but we made it back to camp for lunch.
After lunch I headed off to try my luck at the nearby boat ramp as this was reputed to be a good fishing spot. It was also a bit more dangerous because it was very low-lying terrain along the river banks. I tried for about an hour and a half, but decided that, as the sun was setting and I was a long way from help if needed that I would stop and go home. However, ever the optimist I decided on a few more casts and was surprised to hook a Long Tom fish (a freshwater Gar fish). As it was a rather skinny creature and would not satisfy the hungry mouths back at camp released it.

Posted by psstevo 06:13 Archived in Australia

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