Florence Falls & Magnetic Termite Mounds at Litchfield

posted in: Northern Territory

After our swim at Buley Rockhole we had two more places to visit in Litchfield National Park.  First we stopped to see Florence Falls, which we’d heard were gorgeous.  On the way we saw these green ants building their nest.  We’ve seen plenty of these nests in our travels and we’d recently seen a photo of the ants building the nest at the visitor centre at Kakadu.  We were happy to them in person, they were at the right level for us to observe them holding the leaf together.  So amazing!  Some of the ants stretch their bodies and hold the leaf in place while others do whatever they do to make it all stick together.  How’s that for teamwork? Green Ants Nest | How Many More Minutes? Green Ants Nest | How Many More Minutes? The view of Florence Falls is really spectacular.  Just look at this waterfall! Florence Falls | How Many More Minutes? We chose not to walk down to the plunge pool.  We’d already had our swim and none of us really felt like doing the walk.  From above the water looks plenty deep! Florence Falls | How Many More Minutes? We watched as several swimmers made their way across the pool and climbed onto some of the rocks for a dive.  The guy on the right had been making his way down to this spot from above when we got there.  We wondered how long it had taken him to get to this position at the top of the falls.  We could see him gather his nerves and then watched as he jumped!  It seemed like he was in the air forever because the waterfall is so tall. Florence Falls | How Many More Minutes? It’s hard to portray the feeling of being there, looking down on the treetops, seeing birds flying below us, hearing the waterfall plunging into the pool.  So lovely! Florence Falls | How Many More Minutes? Florence Falls | How Many More Minutes? On our way out we obediently placed our butts ‘here’ as the sign requested.  Well, TurboBug didn’t have quite the right spot and actually lost his balance right after I took this and needed a cuddle to recover.  🙂 Florence Falls | How Many More Minutes? Next we were off to see the magnetic termite mounds.  This is something I’d vaguely remembered hearing about but we’ve seen so. many. termite mounds that it was hard to imagine what was different about these.  Thankfully there was some signage to tell us everything we needed to know!  The kids are both pointing to the queen, she’s huge compared to the other termites. Magnetic Termite Mounds | How Many More Minutes? Magnetic Termite Mounds | How Many More Minutes? These termites are different because they build their mounds to align with the Earth’s magnetic field.  The mounds are flat, like walls (or tombstones!) sticking up out of the ground.  They face north and south and are quite thin so that very little of the mound faces east and west.  This makes the temperature more stable since the mounds will only heat up to a certain temperature before the sun is directly overhead.  Termites are very vulnerable to the heat, so the less the mound heats up the more likely their survival.  This is the only place in the world where any termites do this!  According to this sign the worker termites are blind.  Scientists artificially changed the direction of the magnetic field and the termites started building repairs to their mound in the new alignment. Magnetic Termite Mounds | How Many More Minutes? What are they?  Oh, termite mounds.  Okay.  But my monster truck is so cool. Magnetic Termite Mounds | How Many More Minutes? See how thin they are?  Each mound is made by thousands and thousands of worker termites.  Magnetic Termite Mounds | How Many More Minutes? I was disappointed that the walkway didn’t go a bit closer to some of them.   The placement seemed a bit odd since there were so many mounds to be seen.  I didn’t have my zoom lens so couldn’t get a great picture.  In hindsight maybe we should’ve strayed from the walkway.  😉 Magnetic Termite Mounds | How Many More Minutes? Magnetic Termite Mounds | How Many More Minutes? Magnetic Termite Mounds | How Many More Minutes? Across the carpark were the more familiar cathedral mounds.  These were certainly the biggest we’d seen.  This one is estimated to be about 50 years old according to the sign (but who knows how old the sign is!).  It’s about five metres tall.  Magnetic Termite Mounds | How Many More Minutes? Magnetic Termite Mounds | How Many More Minutes? There were two huge ones not far apart from each other, the second was fascinating since we could see termites going in and out of it. Magnetic Termite Mounds | How Many More Minutes?Magnetic Termite Mounds | How Many More Minutes?Magnetic Termite Mounds | How Many More Minutes? Magnetic Termite Mounds | How Many More Minutes? This looks like a good place to drive my monster truck.  What do you mean the sign says to touch the termite mound gently?  I’m gentle, see? Magnetic Termite Mounds | How Many More Minutes? There’s plenty to see in Litchfield, it’s one of those places you could spend two or three days exploring with all the different walks and falls.  Worth the stop if you are headed near Darwin.  After this we happily climbed into our air-conditioned car and drove back to Adelaide River for the night.

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