Lost in Litchfield

imageThe Australian bush is an uncompromising place, and one which is both inspiringly attractive yet also fraught with danger.

I’ve been visiting Litchfield National Park in the Northern Territory. It’s about a ninety minute drive south west of the capital, Darwin.

Although Litchfield has some spectacularly impressive attractions, one of which is Wangi Falls, it is still mostly rugged and untamed. Much of the park is swampland, which can be full of crocodiles during the wet season when the waters rise substantially, and the crocs can’t be controlled. Other parts of the park are very rocky, and covered in long grasses and pandanus palms.

Litchfield is hot all year, the only climatic change is the rain during the wet and the level of humidity throughout the year. It is a tropical place, but the climate is not necessarily comfortable, nor is it always pleasant.

There are a number of attractions in Litchfield, one of which is called Cascades, because of a series of cascading waterfalls. There are two cascades to view. the lower Cascades, which entails a relatively easy 1.2 kilometre walk, and the upper Cascades, which necessitates a quite difficult 1.7 kilometre walk, which also involves quite a bit of climbing. I chose to do the latter.

I didn’t actually tell anyone that I was going to do the tougher walk and set out on my own.

The track up was quite tough I sections, and involved a couple of tough climbs, and lots of walking through areas which get full sun. Although it was only just after 9am, the temperature was quite high.

I reached the Upper Cascades along the marked track, but coming back I missed the small arrow which announced the track, and headed up a section of bush which looked like the track.

I soon discovered that I was we’ll off the track, and was walking through very thick scrub that was had very few vantage points, so that it was difficult to tell which direction I was headed. I pushed my way through the bush for quite some while, all the time looking for track markers, but I could see none.g

After a while I came to a dry watercourse, so decided to follow it, knowing that at the very least it would lead me to the cascades, so I could at least climb down them to the section where I knew that was a walking track.

Fortunately, the watercourse led me straight to the track that I had been looking for, and I religiously stayed with it until I reached my vehicle.

Stupidly, I made some basic errors which quite possibly could have cost me my life.

Firstly, I didn’t let anyone know where I was going. Secondly, I attempted the walk through rough terrain by myself and thirdly, and most importantly, I did take water with me. It was very hot, I was using a lot of energy, and I could have become delirious, and that would possibly have been the end of me.

I will never make those mistakes again.

Fortunately, within half an hour of reaching my vehicle I was sucking down water and electrolytes, and I was able to swim in the cool waters of Wangi Falls. This brought my body temperature down, and I survived I tact.

Always remember when tackling the Australian bush that it is a harsh, unforgiving place and you should always respect it if you wish to conquer it.

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