Monday, 7 August 1995

AUC 1995 - Litchfield NP

... and they called the wind Mariah ...

Why this was, was unclear to us. It was enough to know that Mariah had arrived !

The wind of the previous evening was no more than a pup compared to the mangy dog which ripped
through us during the majority of the dark morning hours. The tarp was stretched to the limits of endurance and even extra ropes and pegs did not seem likely to hold it. The tent, itself, was being severely buffeted by the gale and several times it bent out of shape, as the roof poles straightened from their usual curve.

Sleep was a commodity which was rare for the adults and only just obtained by most of the children and the daylight greeted a ragged group of campers. With dust in places you prefer it not to be and the wind still howling, our decision was easy ... pack up and get out! It was not as if we had been greatly Impressed with Litchfield NP : in fact, quite the opposite. Apart from Buley Rock Holes, it seemed an over-rated and over-used park: perfect for day trips by Darwinians who wanted to see some bush.

To date, it was our only real disappointment.

Stale cheese sandwiches for breahfast
Escape from the dust was achieved in a remarkably argument free manner by the unhappy campers. Considering our lack of sleep, it was amazing at least one of us didn't complete the operation yelling and screaming.

With gear packed, we headed for Tolmer Falls for breakfast and some final photo opportunities. Herewe found some excellent information boards - one element of Litchfield NP we did find outstanding - describing the formation of the features we were to see. More importantly, we found a place out of the wind to have breakfast. So there we were, five dusty, bleary-eyed refugees squatting on the cement floor of an information shed, eating cheese between half-stale slices of bread, whilst tourists from a recently arrived coach picked their way through and over us to read the information !

After breakfast, we wandered down the especially built wheel chair path to the falls, - the appropriateness of which was not lost on me, given our state of physical being on this particular morning. We left the falls to the bats to which it had been bequeathed and walked in fits and starts back to the car. One of these fits was so Sue could give an encore performance of the Brolga Dance. Not long after the final curtain, an old lady who was part of the coach tour, overtook our slower than usual walking pace and commented that she hoped to see the beautiful bird she had heard calling as she walked up the track!

Our final descent, was into laughter!

Indigestion firmly in place, we dropped in at the Magnetic Termite Mounds, this time sharing the experience with three coach loads of tourists. The mounds are unique as they are very thin along the north-south axis, but very wide along the east-west. In actual fact, this is not quite true, as these mounds are about 10 degrees off true north-south polarity, owing to allowances made by the termites for prevailing winds which also affect the temperature inside the mounds. The termites are very sensitive to heat and to maintain a constant temperature, they build their mounds so they can attract maximum use of the sun in the morning. They all move to the eastern side of the mound in the morning and then return to the centre for the afternoon, as the mound is, by then, evenly heated. Clever little buggers, really !


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