Wangi Falls and swimming hole in Litchfield National Park
13 July 2015
An early 7.15am pickup from our hotel today to travel to Litchfield National Park, in the opposite direction to our Kakadu destination. Our first stop was for coffee at The Banyan Tree – the poor Banyan Tree was being consumed by a Strangler Vine that had almost overtaken the tree (below).
Suitably woken up with a caffeine shot, we continued on to look at the very interesting termite mounds. There are a few different types of termites, and the mounds they build. The grass eating termites build a Cathedral mound, some of these are very tall, the one I photographed is thought to be almost 80 years old. These termites live underground and can burrow hundreds of metres out from the mound. Inside the mound they move around the vertical tunnels to keep cool as the sun moves on to the mound. These mounds are only active while the Queen is alive, this Queen had obviously lived for as many years – remarkable when she is said to lay 30,000 eggs at a time!
Another type of mound is the Magnetic mound, where the shape is more like a tall tombstone, built to face north and south, the best aspect for the termites to keep cool. The mounds tend to look like a cemetery, or soldiers lined up.
The wood eating termites build a nest at the base of a tree and chomp their way through until the tree dies, then they move on to another tree. These hollowed out branches are then used by the Aboriginals to make didgeridoos – another method of recycling. Fascinating little creatures, unless they are chomping their way through your house!
We then moved on to our first waterfall, the beautiful twin Florence Falls (above). The falls in Litchfield National Park run all year round, but of course during the wet season they would be quite spectacular. It is a reasonable walk to the falls to access the swimming pool, and quite rocky and slippery around the pool, however there were quite a few hardy souls who had a swim (no crocodiles here) and those mobile enough walked down to have a good look (left).
There is a lovely Shady Walk that winds from the falls back to the car park. On a very warm day it provided some shade and a slight breeze to cool us down after the climb down to the pool. There was a creek running alongside the path, the only sounds were the birds and the babbling water, so peaceful and serene (below).
Lunch was our next stop at Litchfield Cafe (below), with an opportunity for those who wanted a helicopter ride over Litchfield National Park. The cafe was a classic – open air, dirt floor with great bush views and a very tasty buffet lunch with a special treat of passionfruit cheesecake, a popular favourite with our fellow travellers.
It was then time to move on to our next waterfall (left), the best pool for swimming, Wangi Falls (pronounced Wong-guy). There were lots of swimmers here, very easy walking to get there and safe for children and adults (regularly checked for crocodiles!) and lots of swimmers on such a warm day. The water was so calm, but quite cold – I didn’t test it out!
Our last waterfall was the Tolmer Falls (right), the highest waterfall, and inaccessible for swimming but very beautiful against the tall sandstone cliffs.
It was a scenic walk to the falls, and we saw some beautiful pink sandstone, the colours and patterns in the rocks in these areas are quite spectacular.
We were sorry to leave the beautiful Litchfield National Park and its waterfalls, but tired after a full, and hot, day and happy to be driven back to our hotel with a catnap on the way.
Tomorrow we have some half day tours around Darwin, looking forward to seeing the World War II sites, and the Darwin City Sights tour – hope you can join me!