NT AUSTRALIA -  LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK

July 20, 2006

We left early with Bob, Becky and Tracy packed into the even smaller rental car that was given to us in exchange for the one we pranged in Kakadu. Our destination, Litchfield National Park, which boasts numerous waterfalls and swimming holes which flow year round.

Litchfield Park is a  rocky tabletop range where dry woodlands and forests dominate the huge sandstone plateau. After about a 2 hour drive we stopped to view the fascinating Magnetic Termite Mounds.

Master Architects

The Magnetic termites of Northern Australia are master architects in the insect world. the grassy plains on which they live flood in the wet season and are baked by the sun in the dry. To escape temperature variations, other termites migrate underground but magnetic termites have no underground refuge because of the flooding. Instead they erect plate shaped mounds that are angled to catch the sun so as to create a stable temperature for most of the day on their eastern faces.

It is thought that Magnetic termites can pass on a particular mound orientation to a next generation by having a magnetic compass sense programmed into each termite that allows it to sense a particular magnetic bearing

Cathedral Termite mounds made an eerie scene, like tombstones in a graveyard.

The Magnetic Termite Mounds, some over 2 meters tall, emerge through the grass in a apparently organized community.

Huge Cathedral Termite mounds  were also found in the area.

Some Tree Termites (right) nest at the base of trees, this is how logs are hollowed out for the didgeridoos. Others nest high in the trees.


Water Buffalo graze in paddocks along the road as we drive into the Park.

Florence Falls

The first falls we came to was a high double waterfall.

We climbed down a long steep set of stairs to the deep pool below where the natural swimming hole would have been a refreshing diversion had the weather been a bit warmer.

Staghorn & other curious ferns cling to the rock walls around the falls.
The unusual Screwpine (right) with its corkscrew trunk, is actually a palm tree.

Buley Rock Hole

We hiked from Florence Falls to the connecting Buley Rock Pools following a  creek that meandered along creating numerous swimming holes and stunning scenery.

Another hike followed the creek, the trail scrambling over the rocky escarpment through dry bushland.

Tomer Falls

A short distance away a  walkway lead to a vantage point of a steep fall plunging from a sandstone gorge. Swimming was prohibited here due to the ecosystem home of ghost bats.

Wangi Falls

Two dramatic falls plunge into a large clear pool below, making for the most popular swimming hole in the area. The water was crystal clear but rather cold.

Bats by the Thousands

We did see hundreds of bats hanging from the trees overhead and around the waterfall and were able to get a close up view of a sleepy fellow unconcerned about the crowds milling around him.

The long hard climb to the top was non-descript without any rewards of even a good view.