Day 278 – Litchfield National Park

I’d heard on the road that Litchfield National Park was better than Kakadu, so plotted a course to it from Darwin. It’s only a few hours drive South along the Stuart highway. Along the way I came across a vehicle rollover. I pulled up to see if I could assist. There were 4 other cars pulled up. One women occupant was injured, while 5 other Asian tourists were all ok. The car had left the road and rolled over on the side verge. I was asked if I had a radio and was given the position, thinking I would finally put my HF radio to good use. Moments later a convoy of 4 military trucks happened to pass and stop to assist. They had a satellite phone on board and got the ambulance under way as well as offer additional first aid. Within another 10 minutes a cop car happened to pull up and started taking notes. I hung around offering water to the stranded tourists. Then the fire brigade arrived and as I was departing the ambulance arrived. They were very lucky for a full 4wd of tourists that only one was injured seeing they were doing somewhere around 80 to 100kph when the driver lost control.

I took the turn off towards Batchelor and arrived at the park entrance shortly after. First to see were the Magnetic Termite mounds. This particular species of termite makes its mound follow a north south alignment in order to provide shade on the opposite side of the mound, so at least part of the mound is in the shade providing a cool refuge if it gets too hot. There were also some Cathedral termite mounds in the area. It was interesting, but nowhere near as awesome as the vast fields of mounds on the Nifold Plain in Lakefield national park Qld that I saw several years ago.

Buley waterhole and Florence falls were next offering a place to strip off and swim. The walking track to Florence falls was one kilometre or so down a long flight of stairs then through the dense forest. A popular place. Some of the fish in it were a decent size and would nibble on my feet.

Another day I visited the Lost City. The 4wd track had received a decent amount of rain so there were plenty of puddles along the way to splash about in. The sandstone outcrops of the Lost City are the remnant of what once covered a larger area.

I also visited Tolmer Falls which had a short track leading to a lookout of the falls, and Wangi Falls.

The Cascades provided a wonderful hiking opportunity through the park with multiple little pools available to jump in to cool off. All of the above swimming spots are patrolled for crocodiles and any found are trapped and relocated after each wet season before the pools are reopened.

The Bamboo Creek Tin mine was operational from around 1906 to 1955. This small scale operation was not the most successful due to its location and the fact the wet season flooded the mines and caused transport issues with the ore. I found a few pieces of ore which were really wonderful to see. They had such a crazy metallic shine when tilted in the sunlight. The 3 men who operated the mine all died young due to health issues, from memory mostly lung problems from breathing in the crushed dusts during mining and processing.

On my first day the 4wd track down to Blyth Homestead was open but a few days later when I was ready to leave the track had been closed for the wet season. This was unfortunate timing so I missed out on the track and was forced to drive back out the way I came to the Stuart highway. Litchfield is certainly a beautiful place, and has ample places to swim. The wildlife was lacking though compared to Kakadu.

There was a War Cemetery at Adelaide River where many victims from WW11 were buried, both soldiers and civilians from the Japanese air attacks on the Darwin and Katherine areas. It was very interesting to read the dates. It was common to see several people killed the same day during a particular bombing campaign. One significant grave was that of the Australian Post Office staff whose post office was bombed, with several staff losing their lives.

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