Where are we now?

Where are we now?
Where are we now? Tahmoor, NSW. Updated 7th December 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 179. Litchfield Park

The refreshing waters of Litchfield…

We woke to another glorious Northern Territory sunrise. The Blue Winged Kookaburra’s were in full chorus; competing against the raucous screeching of the Sulphur Crested Cockatoos.

We begrudgingly climbed out of bed ready to tackle a new day. I prep’d the Pajero, as Bec cooked up a storm in the kitchen; tuna pasta salad for lunch. Scarlett wanted to help, so she cleaned up her toys, made her bed, and brushed her teeth.

Bec, Scarlett, and a Cathedral Termite Mound

No Bull!
We were on the road by 9am; and the first destination today was Sandy Creek Falls – or better known as Tjaynera Falls. It was about 12km’s of rough dirt track down to the car park; along the way we came across a number of feral cattle that ran right across the track in front of us. We also crossed a number of fast flowing creeks; with one or two clearly marked signs indicating that crocodiles inhabit these waters. Mmm…

We finally reached the car park, and found out that it was still another 1.7km walk up to Tjaynera Falls and its plunge pool. Bec and I loaded up our backpacks with towels, swimmers, masks and snorkels; and with Scarlett in tow we all started along the well marked trail. About half an hour later the sound of crashing water indicated that we had reached our destination.

Bec, and Scarlett swimming at Sandy Creek Falls

What can I say? It felt like we had walked straight into a travel brochure as the waters were crystal clear and the atmosphere was magical. The warmth of the sun coming over the escarpment and the dark shadows from the towering cliffs created a mini ecosystem that made it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. The only sound was the falling waters from the creek above; so we soon changed into swimmers and ‘plunged’ into the ‘freezing’ cold waters of the deep plunge pool. I’m not kidding; the water was freezing!

This plunge pool was the deepest we have encountered yet. Snorkelling along the edge we could see the bottom disappear into the dark depths below. We did encounter a number of fish and a lone Long Necked Turtle during our ‘refreshing’ swim, but the cold ended up being a bit too much for Scarlett so we soon retreated back to the welcoming sandy shores and our warm towels.

Blythe Homestead

The walk out went without a hitch, and we were soon back in the car and on our way to our next destination; ‘Blythe Homestead’. This place is a reminder of the hardships of earlier times. The homestead was used as an outstation for the children from the main cattle station here at Litchfield before it was a National Park. They ran cattle and a small tin mine just behind the homestead. Times were tough and they had to be self reliant, by growing their own vegetables and waiting for the fortnightly supply visits from their father; this was the only communication they had with the outside world. We walked down and had a look at the remnants of the small tin mine; and Scarlett brought back her usual handfuls of rocks containing tin and shards of silica.

We took the opportunity to have some time out to enjoy our gourmet lunch here in the car park that Bec had prepared earlier this morning. It was a great change from sandwiches; and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks honey!

Watch out! Crocodile crossing ahead.

Next we stopped in and had a look at the Tolmer Falls lookout. Unfortunately access to the bottom of these falls has been restricted, as it is now a sacred site for the local aboriginal women. There are also colonies of endangered Ghost Bats, and Orange Horse Shoe Bats, that live in the caves at the bottom of the waterfall. The view from the top was spectacular; and I’m sure both Bec and Scarlett were glad that we didn’t have to walk down to the bottom, only to walk back up again.

Tolmer Falls

It was still early afternoon, so we thought another swim would be a fantastic way of finishing off the day. We stopped in at Green Ant Creek, but it was a 3.5km round walk and closed to swimming anyway. So we continued on looking for a more easily accessible place to go for a well earned swim. With the walk we did this morning, as well as the heat build up; the last thing any one of us wanted was another hike into a gorge to find a swimming hole.

We saw a sign for ‘the Cascades’; which we had only heard about last night at the Ranger slide show. We decided to investigate and see if it would be worth a visit. It turned out to be another 1.3km in to the Lower Cascades; but we were all ready to tackle another walk, if the swim at the other end was deemed ‘worthy’.
Oh no! A log crossing!
So again we ‘geared up’ and went in search of a new swimming waterhole. (This is part of the fun with what we are presently doing up here in the ‘Territory’; or more precisely within Litchfield National Park. We love the exploring and discovery of new hidden oasis’s, especially the swimming waterholes. With the heat and humidity it’s a great way to cool off and relax). After about twenty minutes of walking along the creek banks and having to criss cross over the cool running water a number of times as we made our way up the creek, we finally came to a plunge pool and waterfall known as the ‘Curtain Waterfall’. This is at the lower part of ‘the Cascades’; which continue for another 700mtrs up the creek to another small waterfall. Along the way are a number of waterholes and plunge pools that visitors are allowed to swim in. The place has only been opened for a year now to help relieve the impact of the huge numbers of visitors on ‘Buley’s Waterhole’.

Scarlett and I eagerly jumped in with goggles and snorkels ready to explore another underwater wonderland. We weren’t disappointed; straight away we found a number of freshwater yabbies and prawns that we tried to catch with our hands. I only succeeded once, but it had Scarlett intrigued enough to continue exploring, while Bec relaxed and ‘floated’ around the plunge pool. It was a great way to end our day exploring.

We returned to the van and all had refreshing cool showers before relaxing in front of the TV and watching a movie. Bec and I enjoyed a cold ‘Strongbow’ Apple Cider’; which I don’t think even touched the sides. I would just like to add how proud I am of Scarlett. Bec and I worked out we did more than 7kms of walking today; up and down some very tricky spots along creeks and through bushland ranging from dry Open Woodlands to lush Monsoon Rainforests. That is a lot of walking for a five year old – especially in the hot humid conditions of the ‘Top End’. She did great!

And as the sun set, the Blue Winged Kookaburras again called out with their chorus of gaggles that aren’t quite a ‘laugh’, as we are all more familiar with their distant southern cousins – the Laughing Kookaburra’s. It made for another great end to a great way of life up here in the ‘Territory’.

Posted by Shane

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