A very leisurely start, in fact the sun was rising as I went to brave the toilet block.
The noises of the night had reduced and while I was washing my hands, I glanced across to the field which was already full of wallabies.
It’s the Australian version of an early morning English field of bunnies. Hopping still figures but the bouncers are considerably larger.
We fed the donkeys and the pig. Harvey the buffalo was called over to join but he wasn’t interested.
Our first stop was Adelaide Rivers to call into the 303 Roadhouse, home to a key cast member of ‘Crocodile Dundee’… ooooh… yep, we were meeting the buffalo…
…who died some time ago.
We also met Jock the Croc…a five metre crocodile who developed a taste for boats.
Jaws has nothing in the buggers that live Down Under.
On the way to Litchfield Park, established in 1982, we passed an experimental tree plantation called the Exotic Timbers of Australia.
The plan is for try to find out which trees will survive the temperature, the humidity, the soil and the termites here. Trees that do could be farmed to supply the demand for exotic timbers, rather than cutting rain forests.
As we passed through Batchelor, Mon pointed out a replica Czech castle, a miniature version, that had been built when a Czech employee in the uranium mining industry found himself experiencing homesickness.
He’d have a beer by the castle every Friday afternoon.
Impressive kindness by his employers.
Litchfield is far smaller than Kakadu – it’s only 900 square miles. This is called Dry Stony Country – not that the humidity makes this a convincing description.
It’s also got different types of termites: the cathedral whose mounds ahead seen all the way up the Stuart Highway and magnetic ants, whose mounds can best be described as gigantic tomb stones.
From here, the next stop within the Park was Florence Falls.
I went for a walk along the stone track and managed to blunder through the web of a golden orb spider. The yellow web is so strong it folded the rim of my hat over.
Mon had told us about these spiders so I went back to try and photograph them.
There was a large orange spider surrounded by smaller ones and Mon had said that the female would be surrounded by males… but I had expected her to be bigger.
I continued trying to get a decent picture for about ten minutes.
When I finally paused and glanced up…
…oh, there was the female.
She had appeared from nowhere and I jumped out of my skin. I watched her repair the damage web for a few minutes before realising that I should get moving before her web blocked the path again.
Lunch was at Wangi Falls – the most spectacular I had seen so far in Australia.
We then pressed on to Buley Rock Hole for guess what… more swimming… only the time was rudely cut short.
Thunder rumbled above the canyon and where there is thunder, there is lightning.
The Northern Territory gets superb lightening storms as we had seen on our first night in Kakadu.
Mon wasn’t taking any chances and she had us scramble out of the pool.
I had to give up my perfect seat under the Rapids where I was enjoying a shoulder massage while watching everyone taking turns to leap into the pool.
We headed off onto the road to Darwin under dark skies. It was spectacular… and the rain started landing on the windscreen ten minutes later.
Lightning flashed seconds later and the storm started. “Welcome to the wet season,” said Mon.
Lightning again sparked close to the road and we spotted two burning areas that hadn’t been on fire this morning.
Meanwhile on the road, surface water showed how much rain had fallen in a short time but the storm cleared as we headed out of Litchfield.
So… to complete the picture… the tour company was Way Outback Tours. The tours are great. The guides are superb.
But honestly, they do need to sort out their vehicles – frequent breakdowns and failures – four on a ten day trip – isn’t great.
Other than these issues, this has honestly been a superb trip.
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