Termite Mounds Tourist site, Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory, Australia
Total distance: 168km
At around 2 o'clock yesterday we set off again towards the park. The sun was still hot, but not as debilitating as it had been earlier. Behind us, to the north, storm clouds were bubbling up and moving towards us. We have never so sincerely wanted to be rained upon.
Once we were in the park though the ride became much more interesting. Troops of kangaroos hopped about in the bush around us, occasionally making dashes across the road, one nearly slipping over as he did so. Through the trees we saw an emu, a great prehistoric looking thing, sauntering by. Green parrots flapped between trees, cockatoos screeched, and large dragonflies hovered alongside us, seeming to take stock of us before veering away back into the shade.
|Storm clouds churned up|
in the late afternoon
The rain only lasted half an hour or so, but when it subsided we came to a college off the side of the rode where we could fill our bottles and drom bags completely. 20 litres feels like a lot (especially when you're carting it around on a bike) but it's amazing how quickly it goes when you're in heat like this. Although we weren't at any risk of perishing along the road – there were as I say pools and streams here and there, and we were passed by vehicles a couple of times an hour – it was a worry at times to find the next source before we started dehydrating. The route we have taken down here is, as someone mentioned to us later, not a well used one. People don't travel down it unless they want to visit the Mundorah hotel or the rubbish tip, presumably.
The rest of the day's ride was fairly easy, and we arrived at Wangi Falls at around 5.30pm – an hour before it got dark. The cafe at the campsite, that was marked on the various maps of the area had been gone for a number of years, apparently, so we contented ourselves with a dip in the designated swimming area beside a mighty double waterfall. Not that bad really, I suppose.
|The termite mounds often took on the appearance|
of the ruins of some ancient civilisation
Need I say it was hot in the tent last night? We woke at 4.30am – deciding that the best way to deal with the weather was to leave early and knock off several hours before 10am, then wait out the heat of the day and finish up our ride later in the afternoon. This morning's ride was luxuriously cool, relatively speaking, and the few steep ascents we hit rewarded us with some nice downhill freewheeling and some high speeds.
We reached our half way mark, Termite Mounds tourist site, at around 9.40am, just as the sun was picking up. This tourist site is fairly basic; just a carpark, an information hut the size of a shed, and a small walkway around a field of magnetic termite mounds. It's good that the government manage these sites as they do – reducing the impact of bus loads of visitors, and having informative displays, but I think it is a bit unnecessary to have a sign that tells you “Here is a great place to take a photograph”.
|Avoiding the worst of the midday heat.|
We have spent the last few hours relaxing on the edge of the car park while the tour buses arrive, linger a while, then depart, and we are being pestered by a league of little flies.
|Here is Robin typing this very blog post. Oooh.|
Ants have infiltrated the bread.
I think it's time we got going again. We have another 35km to Bachelor, an (apparently) major town on the eastern edge of the park where we can (apparently) buy a meal and stock up on food. Here's hoping.
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|It could've been worse, we supposed after reading this account of one of the early European prospectors.|