Monday, 15 August 2022

Off to See the Wizard - Litchfield National Park to Katherine

You know what they say about the best laid plans……. And Mick always says if it isn’t planned it can’t go wrong.  Well, we planned our next week of our travels and one day in we have made a change….

We had initially planned on just travelling to Pine Creek, where we stayed on our way up, but we have changed that to travelling to Katherine, which was still only a fairly short day’s drive.

We started out driving through the rest of the loop through Litchfield National Park and were surprised how steep and twisty it was.

Our first stop was at the Magnetic Termite Mounds.
Most termite mounds are Cathedral Termites, generally in lightly wooded areas.  Magnetic Termite Mounds are in flood planes without any shade.  Therefore, the clever little things build mounds that are quite flat and on a north south axis.  That way, half the mound is in shade at all times. Scientists wondered how they can tell north and south, as the workers are blind.  They did an experiment with magnets and they worked towards the magnets, rather than the earth’s magnetic axis, so the termites have a built in compass.  Pretty clever.
It was a bit weird looking across this open flat area and seeing the Cathedral Termite Mounds in the scrub behind them.
There are a couple of the Cathedral Mounds that you can get up and personal with, so of course we did.  They are quite a size, considering the termites are only 5mm long.
We had to stop for some roadworks and the stoplights were different from any we have previously seen.  They are only on a small base, not the usual trailer, and their amber light gives a count down of how many minutes wait you have left.  Rather ingenious.

We drove through the little town of Batchelor, which looked nice and leafy, but had no reason to stop.
Our next stop was the small town of Adelaide River for fuel. For the first time since we left home the price of diesel was under $2.00/litre, at $1.879/litre.

There was a small markets opposite the servo and we purchased a jar of lemon butter, which will be yummy on toast.

We arrived at Pine Creek for lunch and then a wander around the mining museum precinct. The Overland Telegraph went through here in 1870 and one of the workers came across some gold, sparking off a gold rush.  Lots of bits of equipment has been placed in this park, that anyone can wander around.
The poppet head is unusual in that it is constructed from pipe.
It was interesting seeing everything hooked up.
Mick wondered what the enormous fly wheel would have been from.
We haven’t seen one of these before. It is called a Brendan Pan and was use to separate tin or gold.  The ore was placed in the pan for final grinding by two large steel balls rolled over the ore grinding it down to fine particles.  It was rotated initially by a horse and then later by a steam engine and finally by electricity.
In the park we saw our first boab trees.  Sadly, they look nearly dead, with only two leaves on it that I could see.  Then…..I read the information board, which explains they lose their leaves it the dry season, growing fresh ones once the rains start, so not dead after all.  Phew!
A little further up is the railway precinct.  Firstly there is the old railway residence with ancient mango trees.
The railway line was extended from Darwin to Katherine in 1917.  During WWII it was a really busy station with up to 147 trains operating each week.  It remained open until 1976, when a local mine closed and it became uneconomical to run.
Mick is always fascinated with cranes, so had fun playing with this old one.
There are also a couple of old trains on display.
The large steam train that we rode on to Orange earlier in the year was a Beyer Garrett.  This one is a Beyer Peacock.
Another old building in the Main Street is Bonrook Station Homestead.  It is rare example of buildings common pre WWII.  This is one of only a couple of buildings over 100 years old in Pine Creek.  It has a timber frame, no ceiling or wall linings, making them easy to dismantle and move.  They would have been an oven inside for much of the year.  
There was a mango tree out the front fairly dripping with unripe mangoes. Yummo in a little while.

We arrived at our caravan park, just out of Katherine mid afternoon.  Tomorrow we will keep exploring.

Our highlight of the day were the termite mounds.


Jan said...

I'm enjoying reading about your travels. So many great places to visit!

loulee said...

It's amazing how some creatures seem to have super powers. Look at all those yummy mangoes.

Jenny said...

Those termite mounds are so huge. Just as well they don't have giant termites inside!

kiwikid said...

Termites are amazing little creatures aren't they?? Those mangoes will be great when they ripen. Thanks for the tour.

cityquilter grace said...

gosh i am just gobsmacked by the vagaries in terrain, weather, flora and fauna and wildlife...incredible! btw, nice hexies!

ButterZ said...

You just can’t understand the size of the termite mounds until you actually see them

jude's page said...

Mangoes look yumm, you can keep the termites though