Thursday, June 06, 2013
To today I decided to do the next park we go to. The Nitmiluk National Park. With a name like this it ought to be amazing. Well ok so everything here has been amazing so far! lol
Nitmiluk National Park is in the Northern Territory of Australia, 244 km southeast of Darwin, around a series of gorges on the Katherine River and Edith Falls. Previously named Katherine Gorge National Park, its northern edge borders Kakadu National Park. The gorges and the surrounding landscape have great ceremonial significance to the local Jawoyn people, who are custodians of Nitmiluk National Park.
The Jawoyn people are a group of Indigenous Australians living in the Northern Territory of Australia. Their country is around the Katherine Gorge area, which they have always called Nitmiluk, which means place of cicada dreaming.
The Jawoyn are known for an unusual relationship they forged with a local mining corporation. When that corporation wanted to gain access to Jawoyn land, rather than sell the land outright, they instead negotiated to allow the company to use the land for mining. In exchange, they received a number of concessions from the mining group, including commitments towards hiring Aboriginal workers, providing scholarships, and promoting the area as a tourist and environmentalist area. In Jawoyn, Nitmiluk means "place of the cicada dreaming".
Katherine Gorge, a deep gorge carved through ancient sandstone by the Katherine River, is the central attraction of the park. Katherine Gorge is made up of thirteen gorges, with rapids and falls, and follow the Katherine River, which begins in Kakadu. During the Dry, roughly from April to October, the Katherine Gorge waters are placid in most spots and ideal for swimming and canoeing. There may be freshwater crocodiles in most parts of the river, as they nest along the banks, but they are harmless to humans.
The freshwater crocodile, also known as the Australian freshwater crocodile, Johnston's crocodile or colloquially as freshie, is a species of reptile endemic to the northern regions of Australia. Unlike their much larger Australian relative the saltwater crocodile, freshwater crocodiles are not known as man-eaters and rarely cause fatalities, although they will bite in self-defense if cornered.
The freshwater crocodile is a relatively small crocodilian. Males can grow to 2.33 m long, while females reach a maximum size of 2.1 m. Males commonly weigh around 70 kg, with large specimens up to 100 kg or more, against the female weight of 40 kg. In areas such as Lake Argyle and Katherine Gorge there exist a handful of confirmed 4 meters individuals. This species is shy and has a more slender snout than the dangerous saltwater crocodile. The body colour is light brown with darker bands on the body and tail these tend to be broken up near the neck. Some individuals possess distinct bands or speckling on the snout. Body scales are relatively large, with wide, close-knit armoured plates on the back. Rounded, pebbly scales cover the flanks and outsides of the legs.
Freshwater crocodiles are found in the states of Western Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory. Main habitats include freshwater wetlands, billabongs, rivers and creeks. This species can live in areas where saltwater crocodiles cannot, and are known to inhabit areas above the escarpment in Kakadu National Park and in very arid and rocky conditions (such as Katherine Gorge, where they are common and are relatively safe from saltwater crocodiles during the dry season). However, they are still consistently found in low-level billabongs, living alongside the saltwater crocodiles near the tidal reaches of rivers.
They compete poorly with saltwater crocodiles; however, this species is saltwater tolerant. Adult crocodiles eat fish, birds, bats, reptiles and amphibians, although larger individuals may take prey as large as a wallaby.
Eggs are laid in holes during the Australian dry season and hatch at the beginning of the wet season. The crocodiles do not defend their nests during incubation. From one to five days prior to hatching, the young begin to call from within the eggs. This induces and synchronizes hatching in siblings and stimulates adults to open the nest. As young emerge from the nest, the adult picks them up one by one in the tip of its mouth and transports them to the water. Adults may also assist young in breaking through the egg shell by chewing or manipulating the eggs in their mouths.
Cute little baby with a huge fish in it's mouth.
Until recently, the Freshwater crocodile was common in northern Australia, especially where saltwater crocodiles are absent (such as more arid inland areas and higher elevations). In recent years, the population has dropped dramatically due to the ingestion of the invasive Cane Toad. The toad is poisonous to freshwater crocodiles, although not to saltwater crocodiles, and the toad is rampant throughout the Australian wilderness. The crocodiles are also infected by Griphobilharzia amoena, a parasitic trematode, in regions such as Darwin.
Griphobilharzia amoena is a significant trematode that infect crocodiles such as the Australian freshwater crocodile, Crocodylus johnstoni, located in Darwin, Australia with reported illness in Irian Jaya as well. They possess a distinctive tegument that is composed of two lipid bilayers instead of a single bilayer. The double bilayer may be an adaptation to survive the hosts immune response.
Trematoda is a class within the phylum Platyhelminthes that contains three groups of parasitic flatworms, commonly referred to as "flukes". These groups of parasitic worms are Cestoda, Monogenea and Trematoda. Apparently humans are able to contract these worms as well. Ewww.
Although the freshwater crocodile does not attack humans as potential prey, it can deliver a nasty bite. There have been very few incidents where people have been bitten whilst swimming with freshwater crocodiles, and others incurred during scientific study. An attack by a freshwater crocodile on a human was recorded at Barramundi Gorge (also known as Maguk) in Kakadu National Park and resulted in minor injuries; the victim managed to swim and walk away from the attack. He had apparently passed directly over the crocodile in the water. However, in general, it is still considered safe to swim with this species, so long as they are not aggravated.
Now I don't know about you but I've never known any crocodiles to be harmless to humans and especially a female with a nest of eggs. Personally I'd still stay far away from them. Also since I could contract these worms I'm really staying away from them. Odd how the Salties don't die from them though.
Saltwater crocodiles regularly enter the river during the wet season, when the water levels are very high, and are subsequently removed and returned to the lower levels at the onset of the dry season. Thus, swimming in the wet season is prohibited. Cruises of various lengths go as far as the fifth gorge.
The saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), also known as saltie, estuarine or Indo-Pacific crocodile, is the largest of all living reptiles, as well as the largest terrestrial and riparian predator in the world. The males of this species can reach sizes of up to 7 m and weigh as much as 2,000 kg. However, an adult male saltwater crocodile is generally between 4.3 and 5.2 m in length and weighs 4001,000 kg, rarely growing larger. Females are much smaller and often do not surpass 3 m. As its name implies, this crocodile can live in salt water, but usually resides in mangrove swamps, estuaries, deltas, lagoons, and lower stretches of rivers. They have the broadest distribution of any modern crocodile, ranging from the eastern coast of India, throughout most of Southeast Asia, stretching south to northern Australia, and historically ranging as far west as off the eastern coast of Africa and as far east as waters off of Japan.
The saltwater crocodile is a formidable, opportunistic, and adaptable predator capable of taking almost any animal that enters its territory. It is an apex predator which preys on a variety of fish, crustaceans, reptiles, birds and mammals, including other predators. It is an ambush predator, waiting for a suitable moment to attack. It has the strongest bite of any animal today, but its teeth are not designed to rip flesh, but to hold onto the prey item, which is an advantage that reduces the animal's chance of escape. These two properties allow the crocodile to catch and drag the animal into the water with the minimal possibility of losing its prey. Then, the prey item is swallowed whole or torn into pieces either by death roll or by sudden jerks of the head. Saltwater crocodiles are considered as the most dangerous species of crocodile to humans. Occasionally, they will attack and kill humans, although conflicts are generally one-sided in favor of humans, as this crocodilian has a highly valued hide.
Saltwater crocodiles are more territorial than other crocodilians, and are less tolerant of their own kind. Most crocodiles are social animals, sharing basking spots and food. Saltwater crocodiles do not fall into this category however, especially in the case of adult males of the species. They are extremely territorial and will fight off any intruders. The adult male will share his territory with a female. Saltwater crocodiles mate in the wet season, laying eggs in a nest made into a mound of mud and vegetation. The female guards the nest and hatchlings from predators. Conservation efforts were successful in this species, and it has recovered since the 1970s. Today, they aren't endangered in many countries. However, some populations are still at risk.
The saltwater crocodile has a wide snout compared to most crocodiles. However it has a longer muzzle than the mugger crocodile; its length is twice its width at the base. The saltwater crocodile has fewer armour plates on its neck than other crocodilians. On this species, a pair of ridges runs from the eyes along the center of the snout. The scales are oval in shape and the scutes are small compared to other species. The adult saltwater crocodile's broad body contrasts with that of most other lean crocodiles, leading to early unverified assumptions the reptile was an alligator. The head is very large. Skull lengths more than 75 cm have been confirmed for the species and mandibular length has been reported up to 98.3 cm (female skull lengths of over 50 cm are exceptional). The teeth are also long, with the largest teeth (the fourth tooth from the front on the lower jaw) having been measured to 9 cm in length. If detached from the body, the head of a very large male crocodile can reportedly scale over 200 kg alone.
Young saltwater crocodiles are pale yellow in color with black stripes and spots on their bodies and tails. This coloration lasts for several years until the crocodiles mature into adults. The colour as an adult is much darker greenish-drab, with a few lighter tan or grey areas sometimes apparent. Several color variations are known, and some adults may retain fairly pale skin, whereas others may be so dark as to appear blackish. The ventral surface is white or yellow in color on crocodiles of all ages. Stripes are present on the lower sides of their bodies, but do not extend onto their bellies. Their tails are grey with dark bands.
Newly hatched saltwater crocodiles measure about 2530 cm long and weigh an average of 70 g. By their second year, young crocodiles will grow to 1 m long and weigh 2.5 kg. Males reach sexual maturity at around 3.3 m at around 16 years of age, while females reach sexual maturity at 2.1 m and 1214 years of age. An adult male saltwater crocodile is normally 4.35.2 m long weighing 4001,000 kg. However, large, mature males can exceed 6 m in length and weigh more than 1,000 kg. Largest living individuals can surpass 7.1 meters. Due to extensive poaching during the 20th century, such individuals are extremely rare today, as it takes a long time for the crocodiles to attain those sizes. There is also the possibility of certain genes that allowed for such big sizes being lost in the overall gene pool due to trophy hunting. However, with recent restoration of saltwater crocodile habitat and reduced poaching, numbers of large crocodiles are increasing.
Saltwater crocodiles have a strong tendency to treat humans in their territory as prey, and have a long history of attacking humans who stray into their territory. Given their power, size, and speed, survival of a direct predatory attack is unlikely if the crocodile is able to make contact. In distinct contrast to the American policy of encouraging a certain degree of habitat coexistence with alligators, the only recommended policy for dealing with saltwater crocodiles is to avoid their territory whenever possible, as they tend to be highly aggressive when encroached upon.
Birds that can be seen include Ospreys, Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, Great Bowerbirds, White-gaped Honeyeaters and Red-winged Parrots.
The Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), sometimes known as the sea hawk, fish eagle or fish hawk, is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching more than 60 cm in length and 180 cm across the wings. It is brown on the upperparts and predominantly greyish on the head and underparts, with a black eye patch and wings.
Dinner about to be served.
The Great Bowerbird (Chlamydera nuchalis) is a common and conspicuous resident of northern Australia, from the area around Broome across the Top End to Cape York Peninsula and as far south as Mount Isa. Favored habitat is a broad range of forest and woodland, and the margins of vine forests, monsoon forest, and mangrove swamps.
As with most members of the bowerbird family, breeding considerations dominate the lifecycle: females nest inconspicuously and raise their young alone, while the males spend most of the year building, maintaining, improving, defending, and above all displaying from their bowers. Only a male with a successful bower can attract mates.
Looking over a prospective Bower.
The Great Bowerbird is the largest of the bowerbird family and is 33 to 38 cm long and fawny grey in colour. Males have a small but conspicuous pink crest on the nape of the neck.
The male builds the largest bower of all bowerbirds. It is a twin-walled avenue-type bower approximately 1 meter long and 45 cm high. It is typically located under a shrub or leafy branch. The ends of the bower are scattered with white and green objects - stones, bones, shells and leaves and small man-made objects such as plastic and bottle caps. Within the bower itself is sometimes placed clear glass.
Uniquely among bowerbirds, groups of young males will attend a single bower concurrently, "practicing" their bower-building skills prior to establishing their own bower for mating purposes.
The Red-winged Parrot (Aprosmictus erythropterus), is a parrot native to Australia and Papua New Guinea.
The Red-winged parrot is typically about 30 to 33 cm in length. Both sexes have bright red wings and a bright green body. The male birds have a black nape, lower blue back and rump with a yellow tip on their tail, an orange bill and grey feet.
The female birds on the other hand have a yellowish green body and the wings have red and pink trimmings on their wings. Also distinguishing the females are a dark iris and the lower back is a light blue color. Juveniles have orange/yellow beaks and pale brown irises, and otherwise resemble females in colouration. Males develop adult plumage at about the age of two years and females at the age of about a year and a half.
Their range is from the Pilbara, Western Australia to Cape York Peninsula, Queensland (to be seen almost all over Queensland) and as south as northeast South Australia. They are occasionally spotted in Papua New Guinea. These birds inhabit riverine forests, forest edges, acacia scrub, savanna, mangroves, and farmlands. They are seen often in pairs or flocks near water.
Part of the Yinberrie Hills Important Bird Area, identified as such by BirdLife International because of its importance for endangered Gouldian Finches, lies in the park.
The Gouldian Finch, (Erythrura gouldiae), also known as the Lady Gouldian Finch, Gould's Finch or the Rainbow Finch, is a colorful passerine bird endemic to Australia. There is strong evidence of a continuing decline, even at the best-known site near Katherine in the Northern Territory. Large numbers are bred in captivity, particularly in Australia.
Red faced Male
Red faced Female
Black faced Male
Black faced Female
I'm a baby, gotta love me!
I so want to go see some of these birds. I'm going to work on getting to an area where birds will come to by the water away from the Crocs! I'd love to see them all. After a wonderful day sightseeing and looking at all the birds I'm happy to say we missed the Crocs. Both types as far as I know. But the birds! What a wonderful sight to see them in their natural setting. I didn't get to see one of the Finches but I didn't think I would seeing as how rare they are.
Well it's time to get back to the campsite and eat dinner and go to bed.
Monday, June 03, 2013
Well here I am again and working to catch up. My knee is now MRI'd, X-rayed and I'm just now awaiting the Surgeon appointment for the Knee surgery. I'm so glad that it is an outpatient surgery and all of you will be great nurses! Of course that does mean that someone will have to push me in a wheelchair for a bit. But I'm down to 194 pounds! I'm back on track and moving down again.
So we ended up following Ann on one of her famous "short cuts" and if it hadn't rained the night before it would have been short. But true to her word she got us through and all in one piece. So now we are back on the Buntine Highway which has no speed limit which makes Ann and the rest of us happy. Of course those of us from the US are a bit surprised with the Road Trains at first. We don't have them in the US for the most part. I have seen them in the middle of the plains a couple of times but usually they use the Rail Roads for the longer hauls.
A road train or roadtrain is a trucking concept used in remote areas of Argentina, Australia, Mexico, the United States, and Canada to move freight efficiently. The term "road train" is most often used in Australia. In the United States and Canada the terms "triples", "turnpike doubles", and "Rocky Mountain doubles" are commonly used for longer combination vehicles (LCVs). A road train consists of a relatively conventional tractor unit, but instead of pulling one trailer or semi-trailer, a road train pulls two or more of them. They are referred to as "pup" trailers because of their historical use at dog farms.
Early road trains consisted of traction engines pulling multiple wagons.
During the Crimean War a traction engine was used to pull multiple open trucks. By 1898 steam traction engine trains with up to four wagons were employed in military manoeuvres in England.
In 1900, John Fowler & Co. provided armoured road trains for use by the British forces in the Second Boer War. Lord Kitchener stated that he had around 45 steam road trains at his disposal.
There is an earlier road train built by its inventor in the United Kingdom. It is shown in the No. 320 (No. 8. Vol. 12, February 23, 1907) edition of "The Auto" Title: The Renard Road Train, page 242.
In the 1940s, the government of South Australia operated a fleet of AEC 8x8 military trucks to transport freight and supplies into the Northern Territory, replacing the Afghan camel trains that had been trekking through the deserts since the late 19th century. These trucks pulled two or three 6 m Dyson four-axle self-tracking trailers. With 130 hp, the AECs were grossly underpowered by today's standards, and drivers and offsiders routinely froze in winter and sweltered in summer due to the truck's open cab design and the position of the engine radiator, with its 1.5 m cooling fan, behind the seats.
Australian Kurt Johansson is recognised as the inventor of the modern road train. After transporting stud bulls 320 km to an outback property, Johansson was challenged to build a truck to carry 100 head of cattle instead of the original load of 20. Provided with financing of a couple of thousand pounds and inspired by the tracking abilities of the Government roadtrain, Johansson began construction. Two years later his first road train was running.
Johansson's first road train consisted of a U.S. Army World War II surplus Diamond-T tank carrier, nicknamed "Bertha", and two home-built self-tracking trailers. Both wheel sets on each trailer could steer, and therefore could negotiate the tight and narrow tracks and creek crossings that existed throughout Central Australia in the earlier part of last century. Freighter Trailers in Australia viewed this improved invention and went on to build self-tracking trailers for Kurt and other customers, and went on to become innovators in transport machinery for Australia.
This first example of the modern road train, along with the AEC Government Roadtrain, forms part of the huge collection at the National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs, Northern Territory.
Love the look. I so want one now to get people to move out of my way as I drive! hehe
So we quickly get over the size and length as well as the noise they make and most of us fall asleep or are reading a good book. Then the songs start up. There is literally a lot of nothing to see except sand/dirt and shrubs. Soon enough we finally start seeing signs of civilization again and see signs for our next destination. Litchfield National Park.
Litchfield National Park, covering approximately 1500 km2, is near the township of Batchelor, 100 km south-west of Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia. Each year the park attracts over 260,000 visitors.
Proclaimed a national park in 1986, it is named after Frederick Henry Litchfield, a Territory pioneer, who explored areas of the Northern Territory from Escape Cliffs on the Timor Sea to the Daly River in 1864.
The Aboriginal people have lived throughout the area for thousands of years. It is important to the Mak Mak Marranunggu (northern portion), Werat and Waray (southern portion)Aboriginal people whose Ancestral Spirits formed the landscape, plants and animals and are still present in the landscape today.
The discovery of copper and tin led to the establishment of several small scale subsistence mining operations. Pastoral occupation also began in the 1870s, with loggers and graziers facing the difficult conditions of torrential rain, mosquitoes and sandflies.
Bamboo Creek's tin mining operation began at Makanbarr, A Mak Mak Marranunggu campsite, in 1906. High-quality tin was often found in the ancient riverbeds and on the surface of the hills. All it needed was to be bagged and sold. Small groups operated this way for the next 30 years. By 1941 miners began following the tin-bearing seams into the hills using picks and shovels, and loading the ore into wagons to be pushed or pulled back to the mines' entrances.
Logging of paperbark, cypress and Leichhardt pines began in 1948 in the north-western section of the park. Again, Aboriginal people assisted and ex-army equipment was utilized to take the timber to the mill where it was prepared for local builders.
Uranium was discovered outside what is now Litchfield's eastern boundary in August 1949, by a local prospector, Jack White. Australia's first fully operational uranium mine was opened at Rum Jungle, and underground mining occurred from 1950 to 1953. The name Rum Jungle is derived from an accident that occurred in 1871. A bullock-wagon load of rum, destined for the construction gangs, was said to have been bogged near a patch of jungle on the crocodile-inhabited East Finniss River - the bullockies untethered the oxen and set about drinking the rum, having one of history's most glorious binges. Production from the open cut area started in 1953 and proved to be one of the largest economic influences in the development of the Top End, with sales to the United Kingdom for their atomic weapons program. The mine closed in 1971.
The Central sandstone plateau supports rich woodland flora communities dominated by species including Darwin Woolybutt and Darwin Stringybark, as well as banksias, grevilleas, terminalias and a wide variety of other woodland species.
The Darwin woollybutt (Eucalyptus miniata) is a eucalypt which is native to Australia's Top End, found from Cape York in north Queensland across through to the Northern Territory into the Kimberley Region of northern Western Australia. It is a medium-sized tree which can reach 1525 m in height. The bark is soft and fissured, grey to red in colour. The greenish-brown juvenile leaves are 36 cm by 23 cm and elliptic in shape, while adult leaves are 7.515 cm by 2.55 cm and lanceolate or falcate and light green in colour. Flowering occurs from May to September and orange or scarlet flowers are up to 3.5 cm in diameter. Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos living in the north of Australia prefer feeding on the Darwin woolybutt. The Red-tailed Black Cockatoos are fairly common with 5 sub-species. Two of the sub-species are threatened.
A beautiful Male in flight. Only the Males have the red in their tails.
Wonderful head shot.
The Darwin stringybark, Eucalyptus tetrodonta (family Myrtaceae), is an abundant eucalypt in central Cape York Peninsula. Stringybark woodland (woodland dominated by the stringybark trees) cover 37% of the total area of the Peninsula. This tall, erect tree stands 10 to 30 meters tall. As indicated by its name, the bark of this tree is stringy, rough and fibrous.
The bark of this tree is put to a wide variety of uses. The bark is used for making a messmate bark humpy, a type of shelter. The bark, and the shelter itself, is called uk algnggar. The wood of this tree is used to make spears, woomeras, yamsticks, a bark dish etc.
Grevillea is a diverse genus of about 360 species of evergreen flowering plants in the protea family Proteaceae, native to rainforest and more open habitats in Australia, New Guinea, New Caledonia, Indonesia and Sulawesi. It was named in honour of Charles Francis Greville. The species range from prostrate shrubs less than 50 cm tall to trees 35 m tall. Common names include grevillea, spider flower, silky oak, bottle brush and toothbrush plant.
The brightly coloured, petal-less flowers consist of a calyx tube that splits into 4 lobes with long styles. They are good bird-attracting plants, honeyeaters in particular are common visitors. They are also used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including the Dryandra Moth.
Terminalia is a genus of large trees of the flowering plant family Combretaceae, comprising around 100 species distributed in tropical regions of the world. This genus gets it name from Latin terminus, referring to the fact that the leaves appear at the very tips of the shoots.
Trees of this genus are known especially as a source of secondary metabolites, e.g. cyclic triterpenes and their derivatives, flavonoids, tannins, and other aromatics. Some of these substances have antifungal, antibacterial, anti-cancer and hepatoprotective effects.
Remnant pockets of monsoon rainforest thrive along the bottom of the escarpment, and in the deep narrow gorges created over thousands of years by the force of the waterfalls cutting into the escarpment walls.
They are significant because of their size and lack of disturbance. Here visitors will find lilies and slender ground orchids growing among Pandanus, paperbark and swamp bloodwoods.
Lilium (members of which are true lilies) is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants growing from bulbs, all with large prominent flowers. Lilies are a group of flowering plants which are important in culture and literature in much of the world. Most species are native to the temperate northern hemisphere, though their range extends into the northern subtropics. Many other plants have "lily" in their common name but are not related to true lilies.
1. Stigma: Receptive tip that receives the pollen from another flower.
2. Style: Where seeds are produced after pollination.
3. Stamens: The pollen-producing reproductive organ.
4. Filament: What the Stamens grow upon.
5. Tepal: The petals of the flower.
The Orchidaceae are a diverse and widespread family of flowering plants with colorful and fragrant blooms, commonly known as the orchid family. Along with the Asteraceae, they are one of the two largest families of flowering plants, with between 21,950 and 26,049 currently accepted species, found in 880 genera. The family also includes Vanilla (the genus of the vanilla plant), Orchis (type genus), and many commonly cultivated plants such as Phalaenopsis and Cattleya. Moreover, since the introduction of tropical species in the 19th century, horticulturists have produced more than 100,000 hybrids and cultivars.
Often called pandanus palms, these plants are not closely related to palm trees. The species vary in size from small shrubs less than 1 meter tall, to medium-sized trees 20 meters tall, typically with a broad canopy, heavy fruit, and moderate growth rate. The trunk is stout, wide-branching, and ringed with many leaf scars. They commonly have many thick prop roots near the base, which provide support as the tree grows top-heavy with leaves, fruit, and branches. The leaves are strap-shaped, varying between species from 30 centimeters to 2 meters or longer, and from 1.5 centimeters up to 10 centimeters broad.
They are dioecious, with male and female flowers produced on different plants. The flowers of the male tree are 23 centimeters long and fragrant, surrounded by narrow, white bracts. The female tree produces flowers with round fruits that are also bract-surrounded. The fruits are globose, 1020 centimeters in diameter, and have many prism-like sections, resembling the fruit of the pineapple. Typically, the fruit changes from green to bright orange or red as it matures. The fruit of some species are edible. Pandanus fruit are eaten by animals including bats, rats, crabs, elephants and monitor lizards, but the vast majority of species are dispersed primarily by water.
Common wildlife species include the Antilopine kangaroo, Agile wallaby, Sugar glider, Northern brushtail possum, Fawn antechinus, Black and Little red flying foxes and the Dingo. The caves near Tolmer Falls are home to a colony of the rare Orange leaf-nosed bat and the Ghost bat.
The antilopine kangaroo is one of few macropods to display sexual dimorphism, with the male being mostly a reddish colour above, and females being considerably greyer. It is one of the largest macropods, being only slightly smaller than the red kangaroo (Macropus rufus) and the eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus).
The sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps) is a small, omnivorous, arboreal gliding possum belonging to the marsupial infraclass. The common name refers to its preference for sugary nectarous foods and ability to glide through the air, much like a flying squirrel. Due to convergent evolution, they have very similar appearance and habits to the flying squirrel, but are not closely related. The scientific name, Petaurus breviceps, translates from Latin as "short-headed rope-dancer", a reference to their canopy acrobatics.
Its fur is a grey in colour, with a white underbelly and pink skin. The Northern brushtail possum can grow up to 55 cm in length, not including its tail, and are around the size of a small cat. Unlike its relatives and despite what its name suggests, the Northern brushtail possum does not have a bushy tail.
The fawn antechinus (Antechinus bellus) is a species of small carnivorous marsupial found in northern Australia. It is the only Antechinus to be found in the Northern Territory and has a patchy, restricted range.
The black flying fox, Pteropus alecto, is a megabat in the family Pteropodidae. Members of the genus Pteropus include the largest bats in the world. The Pteropus genus has currently about 57 recognised species.
The little red flying fox (Pteropus scapulatus) is a species of megabat native to northern and eastern Australia. With a weight of 280530 grams it is the smallest flying fox in mainland Australia (the others being the black, bpectacled and grey-headed flying foxes).
The dingo (Canis lupus dingo) is a free-roaming dog mainly found on the continent of Australia. It is a subspecies of the gray wolf, Canis lupus.
The Orange Leaf-nosed Bat, Rhinonicteris aurantia, is a species of bat in the family Hipposideridae. It is the only living species in the genus Rhinonicteris. It is endemic to Australia.
A face only a mother could love. Or not...
Litchfield is a habitat for hundreds of native bird species. Black Kites, and other birds of prey are common during the dry season. The Black Kite (Milvus migrans) is a medium-sized bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors.
The Yellow Oriole, Figbird, Pacific Koel, Spangled Drongo, Dollarbird and the Rainbow Bee-eater inhabit the sheltered areas close to waterfalls.
TheAustralasian Yellow Oriole, (Oriolus flavocinctus) is an inconspicuous inhabitant of lush tropical vegetation throughout New Guinea and northern Australia, including Cape York Peninsula, the Top End and the Kimberley.
The Australasian Figbird (Sphecotheres vieilloti) is a conspicuous medium-sized passerine bird native to a wide range of wooded habitats in northern and eastern Australia,
The Pacific Koel (Eudynamys orientalis), also known as the Eastern Koel, is a species of cuckoo in the Cuculidae family.
The Spangled Drongo is the only Drongo to be found in Australia. "Drongo" is Australian slang for "idiot", possibly referring to the bird's uninhibited and sometimes comical behaviour as it swoops and perches in search of insects, small birds and occasionally, small skinks.
The Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis), also known as the Oriental Dollarbird or Dollar Roller, is a bird of the roller family, so named because of the distinctive blue coin-shaped spots on its wings.
The Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus) is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family Meropidae. It is the only species of Meropidae found in Australia.
One can see why they are called Rainbow.
A species of marsupial mouse (the Northern Dibbler), the Rufous-tailed Bush-hen, a frog (the Pealing Chirper) and the Primitive archerfish, occur in the Wangi Falls area.
The Pale-vented Bush-hen (Amaurornis moluccana), Rufous-tailed Bush-hen or Rufous-tailed Waterhen is a species of bird in the Rallidae family.
Keeping in step.
The Robust Frog (Austrochaperina robusta) is a species of frog in the Microhylidae family. It is endemic to Australia. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.
Toxotes lorentzi is a tropical freshwater fish found in New Guinea, Australia, and Indonesia. It was first named by Weber in 1910, and is commonly known as the Primitive archerfish or Lorentz's archerfish.
Wangi, Tolmer and Florence falls and Buley Rockhole, are popular with visitors and tour groups. The falls have large pools that attract birds and reptiles such as monitors.
Monitor lizards are generally large reptiles, although some can be as small as 20 centimeters in length. They have long necks, powerful tails and claws, and well-developed limbs.
Orange-footed Scrubfowl, honeyeaters, Figbirds and Torres Strait Pigeons share the fruit and berries in the areas with nocturnal mammals like the Northern Quoll, Northern Brown Bandicoot and Northern Brushtail Possum.
The Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Megapodius reinwardt, is a small megapode of the family Megapodiidae.
The Torresian Imperial Pigeon (Ducula spilorrhoa), also known as the Nutmeg Pigeon or Torres Strait Pigeon, is a relatively large, pied species of pigeon. It is found in forest, woodland, savanna, mangrove and scrub in Australia.
The northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus), also known as the northern native cat, the Satanellus, the North Australian native aat or the njanmak (in the indigenous Mayali language), is a carnivorous marsupial native to Australia.
The northern brown bandicoot (Isoodon macrourus), a marsupial species, is a bandicoot found only on the northern and eastern coasts of Australia.
Frill-necked Lizards are common throughout the park, but will not be seen as frequently during the cool dry season months.
The frill-necked lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii), also known as the frilled lizard or frilled dragon, is found mainly in northern Australia and southern New Guinea. This species is the only member of the genus Chlamydosaurus. Its name comes from the large frill around its neck, which usually stays folded against the lizard's body. It is largely arboreal, spending the majority of the time in the trees. The lizard's diet consists mainly of insects and small vertebrates. The frill-necked lizard is a relatively large lizard, averaging 85 cm in length.
Reminds me of Jurassic Park.
The Finniss River area also hosts a number of large Saltwater Crocodiles, commonly abbreviated as "salties".
The saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), also known as saltie, estuarine or Indo-Pacific crocodile, is the largest of all living reptiles, as well as the largest terrestrial and riparian predator in the world.
Eye see you...
The magnetic termite mounds are a popular tourist attraction. These wedge-shaped mounds are aligned in a north-south direction as a response to the environment. The termites which build them feed on grass roots and other plant debris found in plains which are seasonally flooded. Therefore, the termites are forced to remain above the water, in the mound. The alignment of the mound acts as a temperature regulator, and allows the temperature to remain stable.
Termites are a group of eusocial insects that, until recently, were classified at the taxonomic rank of order Isoptera (see taxonomy below), but are now accepted as the epifamily Termitoidae, of the cockroach order Blattodea. While termites are commonly known, especially in Australia, as "white ants", they are for practical purposes unrelated to the ants.
With so much to see and learn I'm so happy that we are having a longer stay about the area. I'll be able to go into more depth on many of these items.
We arrive at our camp in midday and set up. We get acclimated and have a lovely tea and then walk about the camp seeing what we can find in the bush. Of course we are careful about coming upon any snakes.
We settle in for the evening after a swim in the swimming pool and dinner getting ready for our sightseeing upon the marrow.
With that I say adieu and go to sleep myself.
Friday, May 24, 2013
We all get up early this morning because we are all excited. We get to go tour the Argyle Diamond mine. It's where they get Pink Diamonds.
The Argyle Diamond Mine is a diamond mine located in the East Kimberley region in the remote north of Western Australia. Argyle is the largest diamond producer in the world by volume, although due to the low proportion of gem-quality diamonds, is not the leader by value. It is the only known significant source of pink diamonds, producing over 90% of the world's supply. It additionally provides a large proportion of other naturally coloured diamonds, including champagne, cognac and rare blue diamonds. Argyle is currently transitioning from an open pit mine to an underground mine.
The Argyle diamond mine is also notable for being the first successful commercial diamond mine exploiting a volcanic pipe of lamproite, rather than the more usual kimberlite pipe; much earlier attempts to mine diamonds from a lamproite pipe in Arkansas, USA were commercially unsuccessful.
The mine is of open pit construction, and reaches about 600 meters deep at its deepest point. The open cut is nearing the end of its life and is due to close in 2010. An underground block cave mine is currently under development, and is likely to extend Argyle's diamond production until 2018.
The mine is the first successful commercial diamond mine (except alluvial mining operations) not located on a kimberlite pipe. The pipe is named "AK-1", although it is commonly simply called the "Argyle pipe".
The volcanic pipe is a diatreme, composed of olivine lamproite, present as tuff and lava.
A diatreme is a breccia-filled volcanic pipe that was formed by a gaseous explosion. Diatremes often breach the surface and produce a tuff cone, a filled relatively shallow crater known as a maar, or other volcanic pipes. Breccia is a rock composed of broken fragments of minerals or rock cemented together by a fine-grained matrix, that can be either similar to or different from the composition of the fragments.
The mineral olivine (when of gem quality, it is also called peridot and chrysolite), is a magnesium iron silicate with the formula (Mg,Fe)2SiO4. It is a common mineral in the Earth's subsurface but weathers quickly on the surface.
Lamproites are ultrapotassic mantle-derived volcanic and subvolcanic rocks. form from partially melted mantle at depths exceeding 150 km. The molten material is forced to the surface in volcanic pipes, bringing with it xenoliths and diamonds from the harzburgitic peridotite or eclogite mantle regions where diamond formation is stabilized.
A maar is a broad, low-relief volcanic crater that is caused by a phreatomagmatic eruption, which is an explosion caused by groundwater coming into contact with hot lava or magma. A maar characteristically fills with water to form a relatively shallow crater lake.
Tuff (from the Italian tufo) is a type of rock consisting of consolidated volcanic ash ejected from vents during a volcanic eruption. Tuff is sometimes called tufa, particularly when used as construction material, although tufa also refers to a quite different rock. Rock that contains greater than 50% tuff is considered tuffaceous.
Peripheral volcanic facies suggest the lamproite eruption formed a maar. At the margins of the volcanic pipe the lamproite is mixed with a volcanic breccia containing shattered wall rock fragments mixed and milled by the eruption. Minerals in the marginal facies include zeolite minerals, micas, kaolinite and clays, typical of post-eruption hydrothermal circulation.
Diamonds are found within the intact core of the volcanic pipe, as well as within some of the marginal breccia facies and maar facies. However, some diamonds are considered to have been resorbed during the post-eruption cooling of the pipe and converted to graphite.
The diatreme pipe formed by explosive eruption of the lamproite magma through a zone of weakness in the continental crust.
The diamonds found at the Argyle pipe have been dated to about 1.58 billion years of age, while the volcano which created the pipe is aged between 1.1 and 1.2 billion years old. This represents a relatively short period during which diamond formation could have taken place (around 400 million years), which may explain the small average size and unusual physical characteristics of Argyle diamonds. Diamonds found in the Argyle pipe are predominantly eclogitic, meaning that the carbon is of organic origin.
In addition to the pipe itself, there are a number of semi-permanent streams that have eroded away portions of the pipe and created significant alluvial deposits of diamonds. These deposits are also actively mined. Alluvium (from the Latin, alluvius, from alluere, "to wash against") is loose, unconsolidated (not cemented together into a solid rock) soil or sediments, which has been eroded, reshaped by water in some form, and redeposited in a non-marine setting. Alluvium is typically made up of a variety of materials, including fine particles of silt and clay and larger particles of sand and gravel. When this loose alluvial material is deposited or cemented into a lithological unit, or lithified, it would be called an alluvial deposit.
The diamonds produced at the Argyle diamond mine are of an average low quality. Only 5% of mined diamonds are of gem quality, compared to a worldwide average of 20%; of the remaining 95%, they are about evenly split between classifications of "near gem quality" and industrial grade. 80% of Argyle diamonds are brown, followed by 16% yellow, 2% white, 2% grey, and less than 1% pink and green. Despite the low production volume of pink and red diamonds, the Argyle mine is the only reliable source in the world, producing 90 to 95% of all pink and red diamonds. Most Argyle diamonds are classified as type 1a, and have low levels of nitrogen impurities, their color resulting instead from structural defects of the crystal lattice. Argyle diamonds tend to fluoresce blue or dull green under ultraviolet light, and blue-white under X-ray radiation. The most common inclusion is unconverted graphite, followed by crystalline inclusions of orange garnet, pyroxene, and olivine.
False color NASA image of the Argyle diamond mine in Australia. Blue colors show the location of the mine and it's depressed elevation as a result of the open pit mining technique.
Each year, a small collection of the best pink diamonds are offered in an exclusive sale known as the Argyle Pink Diamond Tender. For every 1,000,000 carats (200 kg) of rough pink diamonds produced by the mine, only 1 carat (0.20 g) polished will be offered for sale at the tender. The invitation-only tender event is a highlight of the colored diamond industry's calendar. Access to the collector's edition catalogue and website access in itself is highly sought after.
In March 2009, Argyle announced their first ever tender of rare blue diamonds. The "Once in a Blue Moon" collection was sourced over several years, and comprised a range of precious blue and violet diamonds, which weighed in total 287 carats (57 g).
After a fun filled educational day we came back to our campsite in the afternoon looking forward to a walkabout ready to calm our minds that had been stuffed with information. So the rest of you took a hike about and I stayed at the campsite making tea.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
After a wonderful nights sleep we wake up early to get on the road. We head up to Derby just up the road. We stop and take a break. While Ann is making a call we look at the Boab trees.
Adansonia gregorii, commonly known as the boab, it is a tree in the family Malvaceae. As with other baobabs, it is easily recognised by the swollen base of its trunk, which gives the tree a bottle-like appearance. Endemic to Australia, boab occurs in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, and east into the Northern Territory. It is the only baobab to occur in Australia, the others being native to Madagascar (six species) and mainland Africa and the Arabian Peninsula (two species).
Boab ranges from 5 to 15 meters, usually between 9 and 12 metres, with a broad bottle-shaped trunk. Its trunk base may be extremely large; trunks with a diameter of over five meters have been recorded. Baobab is deciduous, losing its leaves during the dry winter period and producing new leaves and large white flowers between December and May.
The plant has a wide variety of uses; most parts are edible and it is the source of a number of materials. Its medicinal products and the ability to store water through dry seasons has been exploited.
Indigenous Australians obtained water from hollows in the tree, and used the white powder that fills the seed pods as a food. Decorative paintings or carvings were sometimes made on the outer surface of the fruit. The leaves were used medicinally.
A large hollow boab south of Derby, Western Australia is reputed to have been used in the 1890s as a lockup for Aboriginal prisoners on their way to Derby for sentencing. The Boab Prison Tree, Derby is now a tourist attraction.
The Boab Prison Tree, Derby is a large hollow Adansonia gregorii (Boab) tree just south of Derby, Western Australia. It is reputed to have been used in the 1890s as a lockup for Indigenous Australian prisoners on their way to Derby for sentencing. It is now a tourist attraction and we decide to go visit it while we are in Derby.
The Gibb River Road is a former cattle route that stretches almost 660 kilometres through The Kimberley between the Western Australian town of Derby and the Kununurra and Wyndham junction of the Great Northern Highway. Like its namesake, which does not actually cross the road but runs nearby. It is named after geologist and explorer Andrew Gibb Maitland. The Gibb River Road is one of the two major roads which dissect the Kimberley regionthe other being the extreme northern section of Great Northern Highway which runs further to the south.
The road is often closed due to flooding during the wet season, which is typically November through March, although delayed openings have been known to happen, frustrating the tourism industry as well as locals who rely on the road. Since the mid-2000s, the road has been upgraded to a formed gravel two-lane road including bitumenised sections, but 4WD vehicles are still recommended.
The Gibb River Road has scenic views of geological formations and natural scenery, aboriginal and pastoral history, as well as rare and unique fauna and flora.
Geikie Gorge (known locally as Darngku) is a feature of the Napier Range and is located within the grounds of Geikie Gorge National Park, in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia. Believed to be one of the best-known and most easily accessed, the gorge is named in honour of Sir Archibald Geikie, the Director General of Geological Survey for Great Britain and Ireland when it was given its European name in 1883.
Along with Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge, Geikie Gorge is part of an ancient barrier reef that developed during the Devonian Period. The walls of the gorge are 30 metres high. The eight kilometer gorge was created by the flowing waters of the Fitzroy River, which still flows through the region and the wildlife present in the Gorge includes: the freshwater crocodile, Leichhardt's sawfish and Coach-whip stingrays. Remind me not to swim there for sure!
Mitchell River National Park is a national park in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The park adjoins the northern boundary of the Prince Regent Nature Reserve. The nearest towns are Derby which is 350 kilometers to the southwest and Wyndham which is 270 km to the southeast. Access to the park is achieved by 4WD only along the Mitchell Plateau Track from the Kalumburu Road. The two main features of the park are Mitchell Falls and Surveyors Pool.
The park is biologically significant and contains over 50 species of mammal, 220 birds and 86 amphibians and reptiles, including the Saltwater Crocodile, King Brown snake and Taipan.
Pseudechis australis, the common king brown, mulga snake or Pilbara cobra, is a species of venomous snake found in Australia. It is one of the longest venomous snakes in the world and the second longest in Australia. Despite one of its common names, "king brown", it is part of the Pseudechis (black snake) genus.
Mulga snakes are large, venomous snakes growing up to 2.5 to 3.0 m (8.2 to 9.8 ft) in length in the largest specimens, although 1.5 m (4.9 ft) is a more typical length for an average adult.
The mulga snake venom consists of neurotoxin. The LD50 is 2.38 mg/kg subcutaneous. Its venom is not particularly toxic to mice, but it is produced in huge quantities. The average tiger snake produces around 1040 mg when milked. By comparison, a large king brown snake may deliver 150 mg in one bite.
Black snake antivenom is used to treat bites from this species, after a CSL venom detection kit has returned a conclusive result for mulga snake envenomation, and there are signs that antivenom use is required. The mulga snake primarily preys on lizards, birds, mammals and frogs. It is well adapted to eating other snakes, including all venomous snakes.
King Brown Snake
You can see the length in this picture.
The Taipan is a genus of large, fast-moving and highly venomous Australasian snakes of the elapid family. There are currently three recognized species, one of which, the coastal taipan, has two subspecies.
Species of this genus possess highly neurotoxic venom with some other toxic constituents which have multiple effects on victims. The venom is known to paralyze victim's nervous system and clot the blood which then blocks blood vessels and uses up clotting factors. Members of this genus are considered to be among the most venomous land snakes based on their murine LD50, an indicator of the toxicity on mice. The inland taipan is considered to be the most venomous land snake and the coastal taipan, which is arguably the largest Australian venomous snake, is the third most venomous land snake. The central ranges taipan has been less researched than other species of this genus, so the exact toxicity of its venom is still not clear, but it may be even more venomous than the other taipan species. Apart from venom toxicity, quantities of venom delivered should also be taken into account for the danger posed. The coastal taipan is capable of injecting a large quantity of venom due to its large size.
Temperament also varies from species to species. The inland taipan is generally shy while the coastal taipan can be quite aggressive when cornered and will actively defend itself.
We stop for the night at the Mitchell Plateau Camping area. Thank goodness that we were able to find enough areas in the quiet area of the camp. Even though there are toilets I'm so going to make sure there are no snakes near us! I'm not afraid of snakes but these two snakes make me concerned!
Well it's off the sleep for me. I'm so tired from the day.
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