How many people get to live their dreams? I am..........!

This is my story from the time when Capt'n John and I first decided to sail around the big block, to circumnavigate this great land of ours, AUSTRALIA.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Territory Wildlife Park

Saturday 17th November 2012

Territory Wildlife Park
passing a roadtrain on its way up the highway
MrJ and I were so lucky to have the use of Alison’s car for the whole weekend; this enabled us to get out and about a bit further, this time we were up early and driving 50ks south down the Stuart Highway before turning off onto the Cox Peninsula Rd past Berry Spring and into the Territory Wildlife Park. No cars allowed in this tourist spot: we left the car in the shade and went on foot with both backpacks filled with camera and bottled water, in tow.
The Territory Wildlife Park has numerous tracks and pathways to hike or bike along plus the there is a great motorised train that runs around the entire park at half hour interval all day. The Park has a couple of extensive indoor exhibits as well as several interest outdoor areas.

MrJ and I walked along the bush track to the nocturnal house. Glowing with an eerie light the nocturnal house has an enormous range of reptiles, birds, amphibians and marsupials all of which prefer the night shift.
Add a white python, spiders, bats and the baby-like cry of the curlew and the atmosphere is delightfully spooky.

Brahminy Kite also known as the Red-backed Sea-eagle

Coming out into the harsh sunlight we left the nocturnal house to find our way along the tracks to the Birds of Prey display at the flight deck, definitely a must see.
Black breasted buzzard cracking an egg

As we looked on an osprey repeatedly dive bombed a pond to retrieve a fish, a huge wedge tailed eagle swooped down to land on a handler’s heavily protected arm and a barn owl silently flitted about, eyeing us all off.

And all the while a Jabiru, Australia’s only stork, strutted about looking for a free feed.

sea eagle

A running commentary informed us that an eagle can see in UV allowing it to follow urine and blood trails.

black cockatoo

We also learned that an osprey is equipped with polarised lenses so it can peer into the water and, to complete the league of superbirds, the Jabiru is armed with a beak strong enough to crack a turtle’s shell.

The special bird for me was the Black breasted buzzard a large dark raptor (bird of prey) with a very short, square-tipped tail. Long feathers on the nape may be raised in a short crest. White 'bull's eye' marks are seen under the wings, which are long and 'fingered' in flight. The breast is sandy-brown in light-phase birds or dark brown and black in the dark-phase. The tail is short and the wings are longer than the tail when the bird is perched. Females are larger than males. They soar high and, when flying low and hunting, often rock or sway from side to side. This species may also be called the Black-breasted Kite. Black-breasted Buzzards use stones to open eggs by picking up and dropping a stone onto the egg until it breaks.

Barn owl

young female white breasted sea eagle
Wedge-tailed Eagle
After the live display there was a meet and greet with the birds under the cover of the main building with two of the guides and two of the birds of prey.

Next MrJ and I hike in the scorching heat across to the Goose Lagoon which has a bird hide.

The Park is part of the natural environment which makes the Lagoon home to whatever might turn up including magpie geese, herons, ibis and assorted ducks.

After the outside heat we were glad to get back inside at the huge indoor aquarium display. The massive aquarium is remarkable, following the journey of a typical Top End river from the escarpment country, through to its estuary and on to the ocean.

freshwater croc

The centrepiece is a walk through section representing ponds and billabongs teeming with turtles, whip rays, barramundi and freshwater sawfish.

The smaller aquariums are home to various reef fish in their natural environment.

Nemo was there, peering out from the safety of his anemone, and there are plenty of other bizarre and colourful creatures.
my friend Mr Salty
The Territory Wildlife Park is big, 400 hectares, which sits squarely among three distinct zones; woodlands, wetlands and monsoon forest. The Park also plays a significant role in conservation. There are breeding programs for endangered species and facilities for the care of injured animals

black necked stork

There are many things to see and a program of activities, including animal feeding, continues throughout the day.

motor train

MrJ and I were feeling the intense heat; thank goodness for all the water drinking fountain placed around the park. A person could die of dehydration out there, especial since they left their water bottle in the car. ;o) It was time to be heading home, it was easier to catch the motorised train back to the entrance than to walk, back to where we left the car and be on our way but not without refuelling our weary bodies with a late lunch snack and an iced coffee from the cafe.

On the way back to Darwin we stopped off to look at the large termite mounds and the old WW2 airstrips long the side of the highway.

Two giant termite mounds standing up to two metres high on the side of the Cox Peninsula Rd about 50ks south of Darwin. Up to 100 years old these structures are unique to the northern parts of Australia. Called Magnetic Termite Mounds, enormous magnetic compasses, with their thin edges pointing north-south and broad backs east-west. This aspect minimises their exposure to the sun keeping the mounds cool for the magnetic termites inside.

WW2 Airstrips – Airstrips were constructed next to the Stuart highway to accommodate the influx of allies bombers and fighter planes. While travelling down the Stuart Highway you can't miss the signs and displays that indicate the WW2 Airstrips.


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