Monday, June 23, 2014

June 7-9: Australia

I have now returned from my vacation, but I'm only now beginning to blog the second week of it. Ah, Indonesian Internet, you have not been kind to me. From now on, I vow to never promise to write a vacation blog. In any case, look forward to more frequent postings until I have gotten through the entire backlog of stories.

The second day in Australia, we took it easy, since I was sleep-deprived and a little sick on top of it, and stayed semi-local, taking a short drive out to Berry Springs.

On the drive there, we saw some termite mounds growing on water pipes by the highway, which excited me inordinately, even though I knew bigger ones were coming. But these little roadside formations were my first termite mounds, and I was not about to be disappointed by their size!

Berry Springs was pretty exciting. It had a swimming hole complete with waterfall!

Al and Alex jumped right in, but I preferred to walk on the nature trail, where displays informed me I could see both typical Australian woodlands and a “monsoon rainforest.” Within the cool recesses of the rainforest was this enormous banyan tree surrounded by butterflies!

After my walk, I was feeling slightly better, so I took the plunge into Berry Springs. It was fun! I even got to take a solo adventure down a tree-lined stream that felt like a tunnel!

Berry springs was a refreshing place for a swim, but little did I know, [Exciting foreshadowing] there were even more thrilling swimming opportunities awaiting me!

That evening, Al and I went exploring on the beach at low tide, where I found my first cowrie shell ever, and a blue crab that danced around hilariously, waving its pincers at me.

We watched the sunset on the beach, then I went home and collapsed into bed, where I finally caught up on my sleep.

On Saturday, when I was finally feeling ready for a longer trek, we made our way to Litchfield National Park, home to a seemingly endless number of waterfalls and some spectacular termite mounds.

The particular termite mounds of fame at Litchfield were built by magnetic termites. Magnetic termites?, you’re probably wondering. I was. It turns out magnetic termites are but one species of termites that can be found in Australia, and they build their homes long and narrow, almost like a wall rather than a hill, and orient them north-south so as to receive the least amount of sunlight, thus keeping them cool inside. In the background, behind the relatively small magnetic termite mound, you can see the gigantic mounds built by cathedral termites, a different species.

We got to see some cathedral termite mounds up close, and it was pretty easy to see why they are given that name, being enormous and all.

The best part of Litchfield Park (that we saw at least, since there was a lot more to the park that we didn't have the time or the free mileage on our rental car to do) was just around the corner, however—Buley Rock Hole. This was a series of waterfalls and deep swimming holes, where we passed a few pleasant hours before lunch.

There was another waterfall (Florence Falls) where you could swim, and if we’d known just how awesome it was, we might have made a stronger effort to get there. But as it was, we just got to take a quick picture of it from the overlook as we were leaving for home.

Our last day in Darwin was spent walking around the city, shopping and seeing the sights. There weren’t many, but we did have a bit of an interesting time in the oil storage tunnels built during WWII. That’s what they call them, at least. The only thing is, they apparently never did get used for oil storage!


mom said...

are there pictures missing? there are a lot of blanks..

Valerie said...

As a matter of fact, they are. Last night, I was organizing the photo album, and tried to delete a picture, having unwittingly selected all the pictures first. Apparently Google+ Photos knows not how to properly write a confirmation dialog, nor how to have an undo feature. The pictures will be back soon.

Jackie said...

So glad you got the pictures on....I was looking forward to seeing them. The cathedral termite mounds are amazing and the swimming holes look so inviting.