Saturday, 5 August 1995

AUC 1995 - Litchfield NP

Litchfield NP (NT)
Pine Creek, Adelaide River, Batchelor (Stuart Highway) 250 kms

It was with an equal amount of regret as that which we felt in leaving Katherine, that we pulled together our gear and continued north. We had found Edith Falls a restful and relaxing spot and were glad we had changed our itinerary and allowed for an extra day.

Our destination was the much heralded Litchfield NP, approximately 100 km south of Darwin and generally considered to be one of the best natural places in Australia.

The difficulty we were facing was moving in on the Saturday of a NT long weekend. Monday was Darwin Cup Day. In this part of Australia, the Darwin Cup is considered a much bigger event than its Melbourne equivalent. With a holiday weekend on offer and Litchfield a favourite destination of Darwinians, our concern was we would not arrive early enough to secure a good site. Having considered the information sent to us in the mail from the Head Ranger of the park, we opted to set
up camp at one of the smaller and less popular campsites, Florence Falls.

The campsite is located on the top of the escarpment, above the Falls. It is a basic camp, having only cold showers, however the small number of sites (18) led to a better "feeling" in the area.

Our first major drawback came when we trialled some pegs in the rocky ground, only to find the majority of them bent when driven. Given this state of affairs, it was impossible to erect the palace, as its security of tenure depends strongly on the base being anchored. Therefore, it was necessary for us to use the dome tent, which required only four pegs as a minimum. This decided and the structure in place, a tarp was suspended over the tent for additional protection against the harsh sun. We were beginning to understand the difference between living in a summer/winter climate and a wet/dry climate. The day time temperatures in the Top End were regularly in excess of 30 degrees and it had a sapping affect which left one very tired at night.

Having completed our house keeping chores, we moved into discovery mode. Our immediate need, fuel, as the size of the park and the expended kilometres since Katherine, meant the Futura was in need of sustenance. So it was back the way we had come: destination Batchelor.

Having completed this basic need, we drove to Wangi Falls: our preferred campsite pre-journey. Our
decision to avoid this site - made the previous night at Edith Falls - on the basis of its potentially crowded nature, proved to be a good one. An inventory of the camping area revealed no vacant sites. How glad we were we didn't drive the additional 25km  to this point, only to be disappointed and return to Florence Falls. The time elapsed would have meant a missed site there too, necessitating a backtrack to Batchelor!

The falls and picnic area were beautiful, but we were surprised at the potentially dangerous nature of the pool at the base of them. Hundreds of people were crowded onto the lawns which led to the pool and another thirty or forty were in the water. Bear in mind, it was now late in the day and coach tours had left.

Whilst Sue and the children dabbled in the water, I walked to the pool observation area and watched the fish swimming in the deeper water. Despite all of the commotion, this deeper water was abandoned - probably owing to the warnings issued about current - and I was able to observe Grunters and even an Archer Fish. This last one was a real treat, because I watched whilst he spat his accurate squirt of water from just below the surface, "shooting down" a hovering dragonfly, and then retrieving his helpless floundering catch from me water's surface.

We retreated back to the quietness of our camp and had a rare camp fire. This, in fact, was the first since leaving Carnarvon Gorge NP and our dinner of jaffles and sausages was well received by all members of the crew. Capped with hot tea from the billy, they went to bed a satisfied lot.

A man's work is never done ...
After dinner I hand washed our clothes while Sue sat watching a young couple moving into the campsite next to us. Sue wandered over to the young couple to confirm whether her assumptions about them were correct. Sure enough, they were German and yes, they had only just arrived in Australia - the removal of the plastic wrapping on their chairs had been a dead give-away. He spoke slow and sometimes broken English, and his partner just smiled a lot and nodded her head ... mostly at the right time.

There was a certain amount of dejavu in this encounter for Sue. At Katherine, she carried on a twenty
minute conversation with a very kind, but very silent woman in the laundry. It was the longest time Sue has spoken without being interrupted since getting married, let alone since having kids ! It was only toward the final minutes she realised the woman couldn't understand a word she was saying! It was the sort of thing which happens to Gog as a matter of course, the only difference being, no one
understands what she is saying.

With the kids asleep and the adults getting there, we were visited by a slinking, nervous dingo. Either
because of their fear of the paparazzi - they have had pretty bad press since one of their number mistook a baby for a midnight snack - or because of their natural instinct, this one was not getting too close. Sue and I came to the conclusion this dingo was a frequent visitor to the campsite and would clean up any rubbish left behind by travellers. We had heard a high pitched squeal which had been answered in kind, immediately before it appeared and we were left with the impression there were two of them and this was the gamest of the pair. It prowled past again a few minutes later, but as we had left nothing out but some fruit, it did not find reason to stay longer.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments will be moderated before being posted.