We are at the top of Australia in Darwin, the
capital of the Northern Territory (NT)
Throughout Australia, we have seen huge termite mounds. Most of them are built on the ground, although we have seen a few of the type built in the trees. These mounds are somewhat like ant colonies as there is a queen and her “soldiers” and the workers. A cross-section of a mound shows a very sophisticated structure inside.
|This is a Cathedral Termite Mounds|
Then we were shown the Magnetic Termite Mounds. These are found on the floodplains and stand about two meters high. What is so interesting is that these mounds are orientated in a north-south direction which is different from the Cathedral Termite Mounds.
|These are Magnetic Termite Mounds|
We stopped at three waterfalls and hiked to the best viewing areas. All of them had pools at the base, but some of the falls were creating a dangerous current so swimming was not allowed there. And there is the issue of crocodiles! Between falls, we stopped at a couple of rock pools where most of those on the tour took a dip.
The first falls area we visited was the Florence Falls with its double waterfall set in the monsoon rainforest. It is seen from a viewing platform from the bottom of the gorge, which is 135 steps straight down! Dennis went to the bottom where there was a swimming hole. I stayed on the viewing stand and then took a walk upstream to enjoy the peacefulness of the rainforest. I injured my right hip in the climb to the top of Kings Canyon a few days prior.
Dennis swam in his shorts as they were fast-dry material. Unfortunately, I was wearing cotton capris that would have never dried so I just watched. Although it was refreshing to swim, most of the people said it would have been more enjoyable to have been able to stay longer. That’s the challenge of group tours again!
Even though the water looked pristine clear, you can never be sure of what is in it. One woman came out with blood dripping down her thigh. When she cleaned it off and finally got the bleeding under control, it appeared to have been a leech bite! I guess I am glad that I didn’t go in the water after all.
The next stop was at Tolmer Falls to see the dramatic falls. However, there is no swimming or camping in this gorge as it is home to a protected species of Orange Horseshoe Bats and Ghost Bats. I don’t think I would have wanted to go walking among the trees filled with bats anyway!
Wangi Falls was our next stop. This is a very popular one because it has easy access from the carpark. And because it gives 100 MB of free Wi-Fi! Apparently there were a number of swimming holes within hiking distance as well as camping areas. The mist coming off the falls was very refreshing, too.
The tour continued on the Buley Rockhole, which is a series of small waterfalls and rock pools. It was like a stream flowing down a gentle mountain side with plateaus along the way. There were many people soaking up the sun and cooling in the water of the pools. Although there was no shade on the banks so I didn’t stay there too long. That northern sun is hot! It would have been nice to join the others in the water to cool off.
I suffered from a bad sunburn on my upper lip! It felt dry and was cracking some so I kept putting on lip balm, but realized later that it wasn’t the sun-block type. The dry cracks split open and very sore. I kept touching it unconsciously so I must have introduced some nasty germs, because it swelled up to the point that I looked like Daisy Duck! And it hurt!! It took about two weeks of Neosporin to get it healed – and it wasn’t a pretty sight for all of that time. I will now be much more careful about the type of lip balm I use.
All in all, we enjoyed our visit to the Red Center area national parks as well as those near Darwin. Each has its own unique beauty and interest. I guess I would liken the trip to what one would do in the USA by traveling out west to visit the national parks. These were no more spectacular than anything we have in America, but I am glad we have seen them.
|Waiting for the tour bus after a long hot day!|
The future plans with the WARC are to go to Lombok, Indonesia, then to Christmas Island and Cocos Keeling Islands before the long sail to Mauritius and Reunion. Then the final leg this fall will be to the east coast of South Africa and around the bottom in a challenging sail to Cape Town for Christmas.
In January we will be heading across the South Atlantic Ocean with a short stop in St. Helena before landing on South America in time for Carnival in Brazil! And finally, we will be heading back up the Caribbean Island chain to complete our circumnavigation in St. Lucia in early April 2017.
We have mixed feelings: 1) happy to complete the circumnavigation, 2) anxious to have time with family and friends back home, 3) concerned about readjusting to life on land, 4) worried about being bored, 5) missing the adventure of new places, etc. Time will tell!