Jumpin Crocs and Litchfield

Just because I had two days of National Park adventures didn’t mean I was finished with the region! Our 2 day tour had finished and deposited the group back in Darwin but my turnaround time was to be short. I was up early the next morning once again for another tour, this time taking in Litchfield National Park. Smaller and much closer to Darwin than Kakadu, Litchfield is an enjoyable day tour kind of place. Plus, we make a stop along the way at the Adelaide River for some interesting highlights.

Pythons! There were a pair that we got to handle if we so chose. I really enjoyed it, they are remarkably neat animals. Very friendly too. But I really liked the colours of their scales in the sunshine.

Some of the others on the tour also partook, with various levels of screaming.

But the snakes were just a minor part of our first stop. What we were really here to see were these things:

Yes, more salt water crocodiles, this time on the Adelaide River. This was one of the famous ‘jumping crocodile’ cruises. The other cruise I had been on (non-jumping) had mentioned them, as there is a lot of controversy over the jumping cruises. Some feel it leads the crocodiles to dangerous behaviour, including associating boats with food. On the other hand, they actually feed the crocs a very small amount (only 3 crocs got a small bit of lamb each on our tour), and brings countless dollars to the region.

The tour I was on now went out of it’s way to point out that leaping out of the water is still natural for crocodiles, as they can sometimes eat birds. And the food is poled out quite a distance from the boat.

The attack was a fairly slow moving act at first. The crocodile would swim over and investigate the splashing and smell of meat. If it was interested, it was easy to tell as the back of the crocodile would submerge and it would begin tilting it’s head upwards, until…

The crocodile suddenly swims quickly upwards and out of the water. They can usually get about 1/3-1/2 of their body out of the water if they are quick enough. That can mean a few meters high for the large ones! This was a small female crocodile, only 2-3 meters in length.

After the attempted attack, the crocodile would circle around and try again.

Much like the Mary River area, the Adelaide is crawling with crocodiles. I lost count of the number we saw on the shores. Quite a few in the water as well. You wouldn’t want to go for a dip here.

We were in search of a larger male. There will only be one male for a large number of females. The males will be considerably bigger and more impressive than the females we had seen so far.

Not having much luck finding the big guy, the top deck started feeding some falcons.

We didn’t end up finding any crocodiles larger than 3 meters (some will be as big as 5 meters in this area!), but we did have another adventurous crocodile get some food on our way back to dock.

After the tour I was a bit divided. Watching the crocodiles attack certainly was interesting – they are remarkably silent, unlike the horror movies which would give one the impression of a roar, huge splash, or SOMETHING. A matter of seconds and a bit of water moving and you could be dead or missing an arm. They are quick and silent. That was impressive. The rest of the tour on the was decidedly meh. No interest in birds, not much talk about the local area, etc. Not great, but not bad. This was sort of the standard for the day.

At this point we jumped back into the tour bus and headed for Litchfield Park itself. Inside the confines of the park, our first stop were some Cathedral termite mounds. These things are HUGE. And pretty interesting. Or so I would assume, if our tour guide actually gave much information. He was too busy flirting. It was kind of sad to watch, him being probably 50+ and carrying a sizable pot bell.

Our main stop for the day would be here, and Wangi Falls. A beautiful spot for a lunch, swim and relaxation.

The water here was quite warm and fairly deep in spots. A great spot for a splash and swim around. Before I went for a soak though, I went for a bit of a hike on one of the nearby trials. I was hoping for good views of the falls (didn’t get anymore than the above picture), but DID find something really neat. Hundreds and hundreds of these guys.

Bats! And BIG bats too, this was a colony of Black Flying Foxes, which are amongst the largest bats in the world. They looked incredibly big, and a quick glance at wikipedia backs this up – their average weight is a 700grams. They are very sizable, and the colony here had to number in the hundreds. They made a considerable racket too! It was really cool to see.

After a swim and lunch we continued on to Florence Falls. Just a view spot, nothing too special.

Our final main stop of the day was another swim spot, this time at the Buley Rockholes.

This was a pretty cool spot, with small cascades running through a series of numerous swimming holes. You pretty much could have one all to yourself, so I got in one and relaxed for a bit in the sun.

From there we headed back to Darwin. I wasn’t overly impressed with the tour company (Litchfield Dreams) and was glad that I only had them for one day. I wouldn’t use them again nor recommend them much.

I was a bit fortunate at the timing of our arrival back in Darwin – we got back before the sun had set. Darwin has a famous sunset market a couple of days a week. The previous time when I had tried to go the market had been cancelled due to a burst water main, so I was hoping to get lucky and see it this time. No issue!

I was starving and a market is a great place to find cheap eats. Well, normally. For some reason the Darwin market is prohibitively expensive, so I simply decided to eat when I got back to the hostel instead. The market wasn’t overly interesting and a bit of a disappointment. But that wasn’t the only reason to be at this spot, and I joined the mass congregations on the beach.

Darwin has some great sunsets. Something about the humidity, some haze from the city and nearby controlled burning, little wind and vast ocean distances. It does make for a stellar scene.

I watched as the sun turned blood red and dip below the horizon.

I headed back to my hostel for a late dinner and to get packed up. This was my last day of touring the Northern Territory. Tomorrow I was heading back to the civilized South.

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