After celebrating my birthday in Darwin, the time came to venture into the outback once again; this time heading into Kakadu National Park. Kakadu is one of two massive national parks near Darwin, the other being Litchfield. With the massive size, we spent a few days in the National Park, exploring, hiking and just generally enjoying the surroundings. It’s a peaceful and beautiful place with a bunch of rare and brilliant stuff to see – including the unusual yet still-totally-amazing termite mounds.
Gigantic Termite Mounds
These things are absolutely massive. They’re also a lot more interesting than you’d first guess. To understand how genius these ‘little’ termite houses are you need to take into consideration that this is the middle of the outback. Weather generally reaches extremes (Darwin has a wet season too) but its usually really warm and dry, or really warm and humid. Essentially the termite mounds are sitting in the sun for the duration of the day and heating up to extreme temperatures.
To combat this, and prevent themselves from being cooked alive inside, the termites build the mounds from North to South. This limits the amount of exposure to the sun so that at least one part of the mound is always cooler, and one hotter. Then the termites simply move around to avoid being melted.
The termite mounds I saw were littering a huge area and looked suspiciously like gravestones until I got closer. Then you realise just how many there are, how many termites must be around to have built them, and the brilliance of the architecture that makes them liveable in.
Pretty crazy stuff.
Now, these termite mounds aren’t unique to Kakadu, there are also a bunch of magnetic termite mounds in Litchfield National Park too (and no, the termites and mounds are not going to stick to a lump of iron because they’re called magnetic, sorry if I got your hopes up).
Some of them are insanely tall.
We’re talking over 6 metres kind of tall.
As in over 3x the height of Lars (as you can see my favourite Swede in the picture below).
Who knows how many sneaky little termites are hiding inside these magnificent structures. My only guess is that I’d most likely lose count and end up getting bitten a few thousand times – so I don’t really want to try working it out either.
The same architectural design isn’t quite in place for these mounds – they’re far taller than the more plentiful mounds in the picture above.
However, they’re also far easier to spot. You can’t exactly miss a miss 6 metre structure jutting out of the ground. They also look a lot less like gravestones, so people are probably more comfortable walking around them at night. I could be wrong, though.
I’ll leave you to ponder how long it takes to construct one of these – maybe if I ever find out I’ll drop it in as an addition.
Any pro-termite facts are more than welcome – just drop a comment 🙂