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Cruise Diary: Darwin, Australia

Guest Sharon Johnson and her husband were on Volendam for the trans-Pacific voyage to Sydney and the circumnavigation of Australia for 55 days. Enjoy these photos from their port call at Darwin, Australia.

When we arrived in Darwin we knew it was going to be hot so I thought we should take a long tour. At least we would be on an air-conditioned bus. The tour we were taking was Litchfield National Park & Wildlife. We boarded a very comfortable bus for our drive through downtown Darwin and then outside of Darwin to Crocodylus Park and Zoo. The zoo had Dingos, Emus, kangaroos, Wallabies besides lots of crocodiles. They had some of the most unusual birds of Australia, the Cassowaries, which are very difficult to see in the wild. We enjoyed our short visit to the park, although their demonstration of the jumping crocodiles was not the best organized part of our visit. Al was tall enough that he was able to take several shots. And we did get one good one. The crocodiles are very fast so you have to be very quick. – Sharon and Al

Al at the entrance to Crocodylus Park.

Al at the entrance to Crocodylus Park.

A  jumping crocodile. This is not a trained behavior.

A jumping crocodile. This is not a trained behavior.

This Cassowaries was feeding so I was lucky to get this head shot.

This Cassowary was feeding so I was lucky to get this head shot.

The best part of our visit to Crocodylus Park was having our photo taken with a littler snapper. Al wasn’t too sure about holding a dangerous crocodile, but he decided to do it after he saw me hold it. Al was only able to get three photos of me holding the crocodile because mine started to wiggle so strongly that I thought he was going get away from me. Al didn’t catch on film the look I had on my face — maybe I would drop him or maybe he would bite me after all.

After visiting Crocodylus Park, we then re-boarded the bus for our ride into the Australian Outback. Litchfield National Park was a 78 mile drive from Darwin and it took us two hours to reach the park. We heard that many on the coach didn’t enjoy this shore excursion. I suspect it was due to the long drive to and from Litchfield National Park. Because as far as I could tell, everyone enjoyed our stops to see the waterfalls and the termite mounds. We have eucalyptus trees in California. We have rows and rows of them. Many of the eucalyptus were originally used as windbreaks. In Australia, they have a whole forest of various types of eucalyptus. For two hours, all we saw were eucalyptus trees with pandanus trees interspersed between the eucalyptus. We also saw termite mounds between the trees and sometimes built against dead trees. And above the trees were hawks, buzzards, ravens or kites circling. Our guide said that there was probably some dead prey that they had found.

At one point, we were climbing enough that off in the distance, we could see millions of eucalyptus trees as far as you could see in all directions. We knew that we were going to see two of several waterfalls that are in Litchfield National Park. With all those trees, it was hard to imagine that there would be any rivers to even have a waterfall. Plus, we were here at the end of the dry season which meant there probably wouldn’t be much water as there would have been in the wet season. Surprisingly, there was green grass between the trees. It wasn’t as green as Ireland, but it was definitely greener than California during our dry season. We had lunch after our drive and then we made our visits to the photogenic Litchfield Park. The park has waterfalls, monsoon rainforest, termite mounds, weathered sandstone outcroppings and historic ruins from tin and copper mining days. The park was historically home to a tribe of Aborginal people and still is considered sacred to them. A million visitors a year visit the park. So I guess there are other people besides us that have enjoyed visiting this beautiful area of Australia.

At Florence Falls.

At Florence Falls.

Wangi Waterfalls

Wangi Waterfalls.

Young people on a group camping tour of this part of Australia were sure enjoying the waterfalls on a very, very hot day. It was approximately a 110 and the humidity was about 40% but it sure felt like it was more. I wished that we could have jumped into the refreshing water with the kids.

Young people on a group camping tour of this part of Australia were sure enjoying the waterfalls on a very, very hot day. It was approximately a 110 and the humidity was about 40% but it sure felt like it was more. I wished that we could have jumped into the refreshing water with the kids.

Al walking in the primeval jungle. The rainforest is a short walk from Wangi Waterfalls.

This is a photo that I captured of a road in Litchfield National Park

This is a photo that I captured of a road in Litchfield National Park.

Florence Falls.

Florence Falls.

The double waterfalls  of The Florence Falls

The double waterfalls of The Florence Falls.

The termite mounds were our last stop in the park before riding back to the ship. We did make one other short stop at a bottle shop store that sold wine, beer and liquor. Al bought a six pack of Australian Beer. The termite mounds were a very interesting stop. We found out that not all termites eat wood. Also, there is a tree that is called a pine (actually it isn’t a real pine it just looks like one) that the termites won’t eat. There were two kinds of termite mounds. The cathedral termite and the magnetic termite mounds. The cathedral termite mounds are huge. The tallest had to be more than twelve feet tall. It isn’t obvious from the picture of Al and me since we are closer to the camera. The other termite mounds look like tombstones in a cemetery. These are the magnetic termites who build their mounds above ground to escape the floods during the monsoon season. They face their mounds north and south so that there is always a cool part of the mound to be in.

Me and Al in front of 12-foot Cathedral Termite Mound.

Me and Al in front of 12-foot Cathedral Termite Mound.

 In front of a smaller Cathedral Mound. I am 5 feet 4 inches tall.

In front of a smaller Cathedral Mound. I am 5 feet 4 inches tall.

Magnetic Termite Mound. Some of them can be six feet tall.

Magnetic Termite Mound. Some of them can be six feet tall.

Cemetery of Termite Mounds

Cemetery of Termite Mounds.

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