Walkabout in the Northern Territory

We hiked down the powdery-red dusty path lined with thick brush and sporadic trees to find one of the most peaceful and serene sights we have ever seen:  A collection of rolling waterfalls on red rock.  The inviting cold water bubbled and flowed from one red boulder to the next.  What was to be done?  Dive in!

If this sounds like something that you would enjoy, you must take the Litchfield National Park tour with our good friends at Offroad Dreaming.    Litchfield is located a couple hours south of Darwin, Australia.  The Northern Territory of Australia is a perfect mix of tropical temperatures mixed with scenic topography of the Australian Outback.

The thing that made this couple travel adventure all the more special for us was our great guide: Neville.  He is hands down one of the best guides we have ever encountered.  His command of the local history, folklore and gossip were flat-out impressive.  For every bend in the road, he had some local story that brought the area alive. Plus, the opportunity to interact with a local gave us the chance to ask any question that we thought of!

Lets start the tour:

Leaping Lizzards

Right out of the gate we were ready to see some crocodiles!   The tour collected us directly from our B&B in Darwin and after a short drive we arrived at the Adelaide River.  The Northern Territory is home to over 80,000 salt water crocs.  We had a chance to come up close and personal with a handful of them.  And when we say up close, we mean very up close.  Our small group, joined a few other groups on an organized boat trip up the river.  The deck hands had a long pole with a line attached.  At the end of the line was some tasty “croc candy” aka meat.  We had left the dock only a couple hundred meters when we saw the signs of crocs in pursuit of the boat.  Each in its turn would approach the boat eyeing the hunk of meat presented.

leaping lizzards

Jumping Crocs!

The salt water croc is an extremely advanced killer.  It can recognize a heartbeat in the water hundreds of meters away, can swim under water for up to four hours, and only needs to eat once a year. Then as we were able to witness first hand, it can jump out of the water 10 feet!  Simply incredible.  Very deadly.  The boat would circle around one of the animals and it would jump up to bite into the bait.   You are close enough to get splashed  — which tells you about the views of the crocs you will get.

Fighting Couple Hint:  keep all limbs inside the boat.

Upper falls

Our adventure then took up deep into Litchfield park.  During the dry season, the entire park is parched and stunningly beautiful.  The red rock formations and flora and fauna are picturesque.  Neville was quick to give us the heads up of the next picture worth vista approaching.  It was a good thing that we brought an extra memory card.

Enter the waterfalls.

waterfall

Beautiful Red Rock Water Falls

Our first stop was at a series of swimming holes and small water cascades called the Buley Rockholes.  There are a number of small pools that you can cool down in.  If you are in need of a back massage, the white water does a fine job.  The water is crystal clear and extremely refreshing.

As you can imagine, we were a little leery about entering any kind of water after what we had seen jump out of the water in the morning!  We were assured that traps kept the leaping lizards away from the tasty tourists. Also, Neville was quick to tell us that in Australia, if there is a sign that says you can swim, then you are safe. Never swim in an unmarked swimming pond or it may be your last swim.

red rock swimming holes

Wonderful swimming holes in the red rock!

After swimming in the clear water, we walked up a groomed path through the brush and trees lining the river. Our group of 7 was treated to a lovely lunch. We had roasted chicken, fresh salad, vegetables, and stuffing patties. Some guests also made themselves chicken wraps. The area was so relaxing that we put our feet it the river while we ate our lunch. For dessert, we had Neville’s famous biscuits (cookies). Once our belly’s were full, we hiked up to the path five minutes and were treated to a vista of Florence Falls, set in the red rock. As beautiful as Florence Falls are, Neville cautioned us that Wangi Falls would be even more impressive. I was skeptical. How can any waterfall be better than Florence. Neville was right!

Wangi Falls

The grand finale of the waterfalls were the twin waterfalls of Wangi.  At the base of the falls is a pond  the size of five Olympic pools. Wangi Falls are 276 feet high vs Florence falls that are 210 feet high. Prior to approaching the waterfall, we were greeted by a local Aborigine woman, who walked us through the area and showed us how native people used the flora and fauna for food and to live.   She explained that every waterfall has a mythical story. Wangi Falls are known as fertility falls and for their ability to purify. The giant bowl on top of the Falls fills during the rainy season but runs all year even in the dry season. The pool is comfortable and there is warm water running down one of the Fall openings that creates a natural hot tub in the rocks about 10 feet from the waterline.  The story goes that if a woman swam in the hot tub she would either get pregnant or her problems would disappear. Luci swam very fast to the natural hot tub!

Wangi Falls

Wangi Falls

Magnetic Termites

It was a little late in the day and our limited attention spans were tapped.  Then we were shown of the most interesting natural phenomenon, the magnetic termite.  At first, we thought that our jovial guide was playing a joke on us Yanks.  Come to find out, Litchfield Park is home to a variety of termite that intrinsically knows what direction is magnetic north.  They build their towering “mounds” with maximum and minimum exposure to direct sunlight.  Incredible huh?  Each and every one of the termite mounds faced exactly the same way.  In order to better control the temperature within the hive.  Our little group stopped in a termite city with dozens of these beautiful creations. The mounds are six to seven feet high and only a foot wide.

Magnetic Termite Mounds

Magnetic Termite Mounds

A word about the guide and company

First off, you must know that the Fighting Couple HATE tours.  We despise the thought of a prepackaged, homogenous, and cookie cutter presentation.  The beauty of Offroad Dreaming is that you will find a rare exception to the traditional tour.  Every tour is different.  The wildlife you will see and the terrain you will experience is always changing in the outback.

Fighting Couple Helpful Hints

First off, you need to understand that this trip is a full day.  You will come back having seen a lot!  Don’t plan a lot for that evening, you will be flat out exhausted.  Pack your swimmies with you.  There are plenty of places to change clothes.  Food-The tour is very good about offering treats and water during every phase of the adventure.  Lunch was over the top good.  Served in a picnic manner.  You really don’t need to bring your own grub as there was also complementary snacks available during the day including granola bars, apples, and cookies.  Lastly, you need to pack sun screen.  The trip is heavy on the sunshine and light on shade.   Enjoy your tour!

We want to thank our friends at Offroaddreaming for making a great day for us.  You should know that we partnered with them on this tour.  Does this affect our opinion and recommendation of this firm?  Not one bit.

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7 Responses to Walkabout in the Northern Territory

  1. Hans June 29, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

    Those swimming holes look so inviting … how warm are they, given how hot it can get in the heart of Australia?

  2. The Fighting Couple June 30, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    They are a wonderful place to cool off.

  3. Dan July 5, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    The crocodiles look amazing! It sounds like they are more used to the food being presented off the boats, rather than in the boats, which is always a good thing.

    Did you get to spend much time with the Aboriginal people or their crafts when you were there?

  4. The Fighting Couple July 7, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

    Dan-I wish we would have. We really didn’t have enough time on this trip to get a feel for the culture.

  5. Travel Guide Jim July 26, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    Magnetic termites you say…it is a funny thing how we, the humans, have forgotten to see the powers of the ground. Even the birds know this better than we do which is not a surprise but the termites :)) We’re lost beings in this awsome garden. Thanx for the story! 10X!

  6. The Fighting Couple July 27, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

    Right on. The animal kingdom continues to amaze us.

  7. Hulk Warner January 28, 2016 at 1:16 pm #

    Looks like a lot of fun, and will go on my to do list. Life is too short to be stuck at home watching boring television.

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