Giant termite mounds became more numerous, though these mounds were much different from those we saw back in the Northern Territory. I don’t know if it’s because it’s a different species of termite or if it has to do with different soil, but the reddish mounds here were rather grotesque—like a cross between the Venus of Willendorf and dinosaur droppings, rather than the tidy, pleated, gray mounds seen in the Top End.
Our campsite tonight, at “Fern Gully,” is beautiful, with water, pandanus, and white cockatoos in abundance. Before lunch, we had a dip in Bell Creek, which runs along the side of our camp. It is always a surprise to find how cool the water is when the air/sun is so hot—but perhaps it’s the contrast.
At 2 o’clock, we climbed back into the 4WD and headed for the start of the hike into Bell Gorge. It was a less strenuous walk than the hike into Manning Gorge, and only about 1 kilometer, but it was hard enough, with loose rock underfoot much of the way.
Bell Gorge was spectacular, with a waterfall in the middle, connecting upper and lower pools. We photographed and then swam for an hour. As at the last few gorges we’ve visited, we saw a water monitor, though rather than lazing on the rocks, this one was in the water with us.
When we finally emerged from the water, we sat for a while on the rocks, drying out before changing, and catching the huge, nasty march flies and feeding them to tiny, copper-colored lizards.
During the hike back out, I was more aware of the music made by the gurgling stream. The lowering sun set the red rocks ablaze. Another remarkable day in a glorious setting.
Back in camp, we made tea, enjoyed the sunset, and settled in for another amiable evening of conversation and stargazing.
We’re not quite as remote here as we have been, and there is a park ranger station not far away. Knowing we were camping in the area, a ranger dropped by after dark to let us know not to leave any shoes or small objects out, as there is a litter of dingo pups nearby, and they would be likely to steal such items. A few dingoes were sighted around camp, at the edge of our firelight, so I decided to sleep inside a tent after all.