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Monday, May 21, 2012

Australia 2011 - Day 11, Part 1 - Litchfield National Park: Magnetic Termites

Australia 2011
Day 11 - 8th August - Litchfield National Park: Magnetic Termites
(Part 1)

Before heading out for Litchfield National Park, we explored Mt Bundy Station, where we'd slept.

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This should be a peahen


Hopping Kangaroos

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Birds

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Buffalo & horses

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Parts of the station

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Horses and their replacement

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One thing I've been pondering: is it proper to pluralise "ice cream"?

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Turkeys?

I'd bought some "Anzac Biscuits" from Coles. They were nice, but very generic - just chewy oat biscuits.

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"In the tropics lights left on attract insects, insects attract frogs, frogs attract snakes"

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Unfortunately we did not have the chance to indulge in their activities

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"Free coffee for driver"

Highway project signs read "nation building project". Hurr.

The road to Batchelor was supposed to have "Pell WWII airstrip" with a farmstay of the same name, but I couldn't find the turnoff.

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"Batchelor: Australian Tidy Towns 2000 National Winner"

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Notice how they cheated to declare Batchelor a "historic town"

Fuel at Batchelor was $1.62.09/l.

I walked into the Batchelor General Store and as usual amused myself.

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Head lice control. I guess you need this in the Outback.

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A separate hardware section - you'd imagine it was for alcohol.

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"Flavoured Dry Cat Food. Seafood Platter"

The cauliflower in the store had brown spots, but I didn't take a picture because one staff member was very unfriendly. I was strolling around and he asked me to ask him if I needed help, or to ask for prices. A few minutes later he asked what I was doing. I said I was looking around. Then, as I was noting on my paper how unfriendly he was, he came by and accused me of being snoopy and writing down prices. I said I wasn't doing that and was writing that he was asking me so many questions, and he asked me if I was buying something. Happily, after he stormed off I found the guy at the counter to be more friendly. I was assured that the first man was usually like that - worse, sometimes.

Ironically Coke was $4.10 for 600ml at the General Store - but $2 for a 375ml can at the food outlet next door.

The way to Litchfield read: "Road subject to flooding. Next 50km". Gee.

When we finally hit Litchfield there was a sign: "Beware of Road Trains". In a national park???

Our first stop in Litchfield was the [Magnetic] Termite Mounds.

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Cathedral Termite Mound sign

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Mound. This didn't seem to be magnetic.

I overheard a guide for a group and learnt some interesting things. The first international airport in the area was made from crushed termite mounds.

An even better tidbit was that the aborigines used to bury their dead in termite mounds (if there wasn't one they found a hollow tree). The termites would seal the hole you made in the mound for the body. However, raw flesh would decompose and kill the termites, so you could only put bones.

As you went closer to the coast, the aborigines were less likely to believe in the afterlife.

The aborigines would put their hands down holes to look for iguanas. If they felt a rough tail it was good. If it was smooth it would be a King Brown - the second most deadly snake in the world, so they'd let go.

After death ceremonies, everything involved in the ceremony had to be burnt, like didgeridoos. If you walked into a gendered ceremony of the opposite gender, you became part of the ceremony, were used it it and were burnt at its end.

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Tourists and mound. This didn't seem to be magnetic either.

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Tourists and another mound

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Termites

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On Insect Architecture

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Life on the lowlands

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On water

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This was problematic: does it make sense to call white Australians, in 1948, "Europeans"? Incidentally, Litchfield National Park is named after a European - they haven't (yet?) renamed it to an Aboriginal name.

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Magnetic Termite Mounds

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Termite mounds

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2/3 of the mound is underground, and 1/3 above

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The magnetic termites go for the grass and don't touch the trees.

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I call this buide "Buffalo Bill". I eavesdropped on his tales earlier, then he was talking about shooting feral animals and using the termite mounds for sighting. He said you should never shoot a buffalo in the skull as it's 4.5" thick. You should shoot it in the spine or shoulder. People scavenge the meat but after 2 hours when you can pull the skin off easily the carcass should be condemned.

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On Floodplain termites

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No shirt, no shoes, no service?


Outside of KFC, the Northern Territory seems to be Coke Country.

We were unable to visit some places due to not having a 4WD. The Lost City looks very interesting.
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