Camping With Casper

Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
Trip End Oct 06, 2013

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Where I stayed
Batchelor Resort- Caravillage

Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Wednesday, May 2, 2012

We’ve picked up Casper, our pasty white campervan, and our Australian home for the next two weeks. Casper is quite a bit smaller than Big Blue but DH felt it would be good for our relationship if we were packed into this mobile tin can, remaining no more than an arms length away at any point in time, 24/7. She also felt it would be good for our relationship if we invested in a cheapie GPS unit that didn’t come standard with our van. For those with access to an atlas (and no Deb P, we’re still not in Japan), you might want to have a look at the road from Darwin to Alice Springs- it’s a straight line- if you aimed a laser beam from Darwin to AS, you would find that the road is straighter- the only connecting roads were dirt roads restricted to 4x4’s. Not even DH could get us lost on this road of zero options…but she invoked her privilege of making decisions without requiring logic, and we picked up what would prove to be the least challenged GPS in the history of electronics.

Our first stop was Litchfield National Park and it was here that we started to introduce ourselves to the wetlands and outback wilderness: 400 types of ants (including the fire ant colony we camped on top of the first night!!), 90 different species of bats, 2,900 species of spider, and plenty of snakes (140 different types of land snakes and 32 different types of water snakes)- Australia has more venomous snakes than any other country in the world- it also has the unenviable distinction of being home to no fewer than 9 of the top 10 most venomous snakes in the world. The Northern Territory is also estimated to have 80,000 saltwater crocodiles or Salties as they’re called here, the highest number in Australia. Saltwater crocodiles, the world's largest reptile, grow up to 23 feet long. They are more likely to attack humans than the smaller freshwater crocodiles (Freshies) that also inhabit the area. The just finished wet season will see a number of these dinosaurs come well inland and a number of swimming holes will be closed until they have been deemed jaws-free.

And our first encounter with the dangerous outback wildlife?? It turned out to be a fluttering flock of Rainbow Lorikeet, Galah Cockatoo’s, and Yellow Mina’s. The campsite owners have developed a fondness for the local bird wildlife and have taken to feeding them a healthy breakfast and dinner while the rest of us stand around admiring the chattering swarms of wild birds that show up for a free meal (looked like a Las Vegas buffet at times with food flying everywhere). DH used to have a bird identification book at the ready as she fed the birds of Tottenham, and I think she sees herself as a bit of a bird whisperer, so she was positively giddy to have flapping wings all around her.

Litchfield National Park is 'Waterfall Central' with numerous walks and treks through monsoon rainforests out to see these dancing waters which cascade from a sandstone plateau called the Tabletop Range. My favourite stop was at something called the Magnetic Termite Mounds and the Cathedral Termite Mounds. These intriguing and massive magnetic termite mounds covered an open grass plain and gave the appearance of being a large graveyard with equally large mud/dirt tombstones.  In a previous life I had worked with guys who seemed to have brains about the size of a termites but there’s just no way they could have built these architectural marvels complete with arches, tunnels, chimneys, insulation and nursery chambers. The mounds are even aligned north to south to minimize the exposure to the sun and results in the ‘magnetic’ designation.

Birds and termites- not exactly death defying….and still no Crocodile Dundee. Off to Kakadu!! 
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Marlene on

They are all beautiful shots! Except for the icky spiders.....

Elaine & Doug on

As if your description of the thousnads of spiders and venomous snakes wasn't enough to ensure that I would never, ever be able to convince Elaine to visit the Outback with me, you had to add the crocodiles! And only an Australian could look at those big, ugly, all-teeth killing machines and then give them cutesy names like Salties and Freshies!

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