After breakfast, I returned to the shop to buy some tissues. It was already quite warm but good to see a blue rather than a cloudy sky.
Here is a picture of the castle in Batchelor Yes, in Batchelor, near Litchfield National Park, in the Northern Territory of Australia, a castle.
The original Karlstein Castle was built from 1348-55 in Bohemia (23 km south-east of Prague in the now Czech Republic) by Charles IV, King of Bohemia, Emperor of Germany and of the Holy Roman Empire. At various times, this castle held treasures and relics from the Holy Roman Empire, the Bohemian crown jewels and the Czech crown jewels.
The Batchelor replica miniature was erected by Bernard Havlik, resident of Batchelor, purely from photographs, from 1974-78. It is located in what is now known as Havlik Park.
Our young and good looking friends from the museum said yesterday that a visitor once turned up from the then Czechoslovakia. He lived close to the real Karlstein Castle and he commented that this model was spot on.
What a difference a day makes, 24 little hours. Blue skies. We drove to Litchfield National Park and stopped to look at the Magnetic Termite Mounds. Liesel was disappointed that these constructions weren’t covered in fridge magnets.
The mounds are built by magnetic termites. And no, you can’t attract hundreds of those by waving a horseshoe magnet about either.
These mounds are oriented north-south to reduce the amount of direct sunlight shining on the surface, thus reducing the internal temperature.
Other mounds are also in the area. The Cathedral Mound is built by a colony of Cathedral termites. What a coincidence!
It’s an 18-feet tall monolith and it reminded me of an early scene from one of my alltime favourite films, which is now 51 years old.
It was a very pleasant walk and after a very pleasant drive, we found ourselves at the very pleasant Wangi Falls.
One of the selling points here is the free wifi. We had things to do online. Like tell our host that the oven doesn’t work. Like check that yesterday’s blog had posted on schedule (it hadn’t). Like sync the Fitbit. Like check the bank acc… Oh no. I got kicked off with the message Data Limit Exceeded. I tried with other email addresses but it knew, it knew… Later on, Liesel was kicked off too, Time Limit Exceeded. So, sorry, banks in the UK, I’ll pay the bills very soon, honest.
I had coffee and we had a sandwich, a bowl of salt with some chips in and a slice of cheesecake. That weighed me down quite nicely when I entered the water.
Watching the Chinese group try to order food and drinks was informative yet embarrassing. One lady ordered her meal then walked away. Her friend told her (in Chinese) that she had to pay. Then number two got to the front of the queue before starting to decide what she wanted. The girl behind the counter looked at me with eyes that said “I’m an underpaid café worker, get me out of here.” All I could do to help out was to place my order, clearly and distinctly, and pay without being prompted.
It was so refreshing in the water, even with lots of people, noodles and fish. This pool only reopened to the public this week: it’s taken three weeks to be absolutely sure there are no crocodiles in the vicinity after the Wet.
I’m not a very good swimmer and the waterfall was just too far for me to reach. It’s fresh water too, so I was less buoyant than in the sea.
We started on the circular, mile-long Wangi Falls Walk not initially intending to go the whole way, as we’d left all our water in the car.
The sign told us to look out for a Golden Orb Spider. Well, we found one quite easily, because it was being photographed by a few other people. It’s huge! There were some small, golden normal sized spiders on the web too, but the large one was magnificent. This is one of those rare times when I wish I had a real camera with manual focus. The spider is out of focus in all of my pictures: very disappointing.
We continued along the path and up the steps and along the path and round the corner and up the steps to the Treetop view. The higher you climb, the further you see over the Park.
In the distance here, you can see some smoke, presumably from a controlled fire, known as “fuel reduction” according to some signs we saw today.
At the highpoint, we crossed a bridge over the stream of water that would later plunge hundreds of feet into the swimming hole.
You’re supposed to keep to the path to preserve the vegetation and the wildlife but these naughty people climbed through the fence and went walkabout. Liesel asked why I took the picture. Evidence, I said. This is what they looked like before being washed over a waterfall and/or before being eaten by a dingo and/or a crocodile.
It was certainly easier, and quicker, climbing down the steps, but it still required concentration. A little hydration would have helped, of course.
So, not surprising then that when we next encountered flowing water, we didn’t drink any but we both spontaneously splashed ourselves with it, to cool off. And back down at the bottom, I didn’t need to be asked twice whether I wanted another quick dip. I have no idea how much water we downed when we returned to the car.
On the way home, I sat on a towel so as not to get the car seat too wet.
The sign pointed to Lost City. Sadly, the track was 4WD only so we don’t know whether or not we would have found it.
As we approached Batchelor, we saw a car had landed, crooked, on the gravel strip next to the road. Behind it, we saw three unoccupied police vehicles, each from a different police department as far as we could see. We turned the corner only to see a fourth police car approaching. Very exciting, very intriguing. I suspect the driver of the vehicle had run off into the bush and was being chased by Batchelor’s best: a real life 39 Steps. We can’t believe such force would be necessary just because someone parked a bit funny.
The oven still didn’t work, so we fired up the barbecue. Cous-cous with roasted, well, barbecued, vegetables and halloumi. Liesel is a fantastic cook!
We do like to see a bit of colour. But sometimes, a total lack of colour can be just as exciting. The ebony night sky with its myriad stars mesmerised me in the middle of the night. There are trees here that blot out some of the sky, but even so, and even with the annoying motion-sensing lights, the sky was as beautifully bejewelled as I’ve ever seen it. Just too many stars to make out the most obvious of constellations. Marvellous!
When I returned to bed, I tried not to think about number of bites I’d received without realising. It was so quiet outside, no birds, no insects, just the neighbour’s TV gently burbling away. I certainly didn’t hear the warning whine of mosquitoes.
Come breakfast time, the itches had subsided and only a couple of residual bumps showed.
Buley Rockhole is a series of small, round rock pools connected by cascades. It’s closer to Batchelor than Wangi Falls but mostly, we followed the same road. It felt even hotter today than yesterday, although the car’s thermometer suggested otherwise.
What we hadn’t realised was that today was a public holiday. Everybody was there. Darwin must have been a ghost town.
We had a quick walk but we couldn’t find any shade and even the pools all had too many people in them. Maybe we just don’t like crowds any more!
The young larrikins drinking cans of beers put us off too: just too much jostling and joshing with young families nearby.
The car park at Florence Falls was full, in fact, cars were parked in stupid places a long way back, along the road.
We shall return!
So we went back to Batchelor Museum where the history of the township revolves around the early settlement, farming, World War 2 and the nearby Rum Jungle uranium mine.
One of the first names I noticed was Joe McGinness. Possibly my cousin Joe. His father and my maternal grandfather share a surname and both came from Ireland. I wonder? Something to follow up when we get home.
The early settlers tried hard. They grew so many different crops to find out what worked and what didn’t. One of the selling points of the Northern Territory was that it didn’t have many of the expected tropical diseases, not even malaria.
There are stories from some of the airmen based in the area during the war, including Dr Fenton, who we read about in Katherine.
The uranium mine is just along the road and now we know what to look out for should be ever need some uranium ore.
Of course, we’re law-abiding citizens, so we turned our rental vehicle back just as soon as we’d taken this photo.
The local group of lorikeets is either invisible or very well camouflaged. We can hear them, we know which trees they’re in, but we can’t see them. Spooky.