Steaming up in Litchfield

Trip Start Jul 27, 2009
Trip End Nov 07, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Tuesday, September 8, 2009

While our fridge cooled its heels in Darwin, we headed out of town to Litchfield National Park equipped with an Esky. Simon and Carrie previously visited Kakadu while Hilary was in the womb. Our itinerary is looking a little tight, so this time we decided that we would devote our energies to the less famous and much smaller Litchfield, where many waterfalls spill into gorgeous clear pools. 

The local indigenous people recognise six seasons in the Top End, the early storms of the build-up starting in October. (The build-up comes before the monsoon, when daily downpours relieve the humidity and heat).  However, we experienced some early build-up humidity during our visit, and even some thunder storms. 

The warm and sticky weather made floating around under waterfalls an ideal activity.  Simon's favorite was Tjaynera (Sandy Creek Falls) because it is accessible only by 4WD and a 1.7 km walk, so by mid-afternoon we had the place to ourselves.  Hilary, Alec and Carrie loved the cascading series of deep waterholes called Buley Rockhole, despite the crowds that arrived by mid-morning.  Other swimming holes rather resembled Northcote pool on a 35C summer afternoon.

But it was not all beer and skittles.  Hilary and Alec both commenced research projects, inspired by less irritating encounters with wildlife than the sand flies of Darwin. Alec published his project on Termites today, and Hilary's project on Green Ants is coming soon.  We also visited the Tabletop Swamp for a peaceful stroll and a spot of twitching.   At this time of year the wetland, which overflows during the Wet Season, is reduced to a muddy swamp.  This concentrates the birds, which disperse with the abundance of water during the Wet.

Another highlight was the Lost City, an eerie landscape of balancing sandstone towers which looks like an Aztec ruin. 

We left Litchfield and caught up with an old friend Russell on the way through Batchelor.  Years ago Russell introduced Carrie to his sister Nina who played cupid to Simon and Carrie.  Russell was somewhat alarmed to be thus held responsible for the very existance of Hilary and Alec, but we reassured him that the children would continue their trip and not be left in his care.
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