Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Living it Up in Litchfield

After visiting the termite mounds in Litchfield National Park, we checked out the lookout platform over Tolmer Falls. You can't go to the bottom of this waterfall, because colonies of rare bats live down there. It's one of the tallest waterfalls in the park, and though the water volume wasn't large while we were there, the height of it made it quite impressive.
Can you spot the swimmers under the waterfall?
Next, we stopped by Wangi Falls. There were tons of huge spiders in the plants along the banks of the plunge pool, so Zack took lots of pictures of those (he's obsessed with spiders). Wangi Falls is a popular swimming spot; many people from Darwin take day trips here to cool off.
These Aboriginal girls talked to us for a little while. They were very interested in where we were from and why we were in Australia. I asked them if they had ever seen crocodiles in this swimming area. They nonchalantly replied, "Of course, but just freshwater ones," and they didn't seem to be worried about it at all!
There aren't many food options in the park, but we found a place called Litchfield Safari Camp where we could get some dinner. It was a family-run operation. The Australian bloke showed us our options on the whiteboard out front, his wife cooked our burgers out back, and his daughter and son helped run the "camp." We felt like total tourists, especially as I snapped pictures of these kangaroos while we waited for our food.

Our last Northern Territory sunset.

Our original plan was to camp back at Wangi Falls, but the heat was so intolerable that we knew we wouldn't get any sleep. Sweat was literally dripping off of our faces. Plus, we didn't have any sleeping bags or pillows (the rental car company was supposed to supply them along with the tent but didn't), and we were tired of sleeping on our clothes. So we drove and found a cute little place to stay for the night, and on our steps, we saw this cool green tree frog. Actually, there were several huge toads around the grounds.

There's one other story about camping that I forgot to mention back in the Kakadu posts, but I want to remember it, so I'll put it here. We had set up our tent at an area called Mardugal after doing the Yellow Water crocodile cruise. There were various signs about crocs in the area (though you see those pretty much everywhere in the Northern Territory), and we were literally the only ones at the campground (low season). So we were lying in the tent, trying to get comfortable and get to sleep on top of our clothes and in the heat, when we suddenly heard noises. Not just normal noises...noises of something moving. Something (or someone!) was taking a few steps, stopping, and then taking some more steps. I promise that this wasn't just the breeze or regular camping noises; trust me-we camp a lot, and I know! So Zack and I, who if you'll remember had just seen over a dozen deadly crocodiles a few hours earlier, started panicking a little bit. Here we were in the middle of a deserted campground and something was definitely out there. So Zack, who I think had watched too many YouTube croc videos, decided we needed to get into the car to protect ourselves. Unfortunately, the noise was coming from the direction of the car. This meant we had to make a run for it! So we made our plan: Zack would unzip the tent, and we'd both make a mad dash for the driver's side door and jump in as soon as he got it unlocked. And that's what we did! I ended up on his lap, as there was no way I was going to run around to the other side of the car and get in that way-that's where the noise was! Then there was the dilemma of getting our tent into the car and getting out of there, as we knew neither of us would sleep well after hearing whatever we heard. So we backed the station wagon right up to the tent with the lights on, Zack quickly jumped out and shoved the whole thing into the trunk, and we drove off to the much more populated (and therefore safer!) Gagudju Lodge campground for a decent night's sleep. Well, as decent as can be had when sleeping on the hard ground in 85+ degree temperatures. I actually ended up moving to the backseat of the car for the early morning hours, because my back and hips hurt so much. Anyway, we'll never know what we heard out there in the could have been a wallaby or a big bird or even just a frog hopping around. But we like to think we escaped certain death from a crocodile dragging us off never to be heard from again!

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