Communal living on a grand scale
03.06.2011 - 05.06.2011 30 °C
As you drive along the Stuart Highway 'up the guts' of Australia, you start to see termite mounds appearing by the road. Homes to millions of termites, they get bigger the further north you go until you see massive ones in the Top End. Then, in Litchfield National Park near Darwin where we went with our friends Lee and Tim and Paul, you see 'magnetic' termite mounds.
The termites seem to have different house styles in different places. All are made of mud, presumably dirt and termite spit mixed. Most mounds are the traditional 'cathedral'-style ones shown above - lumpy with complex shapes. In these, the termites live underground and the mounds are the aircon vents and exit/entry points. We can vouch for the fact that underground living is cooler. We stayed in an underground motel in Coober Pedy and experienced first-hand the lovely, constant temperature subterranean living offers. The Litchfield termite mounds are minimalist in style, blade-like and supposedly magnetic - though Keith would like to see the equations before he believes this! They're aligned with their long axes more or less north-south to allow the termites to move around to escape the heat. They're built on ground that gets boggy in the wet season (our summer) when the termites are confined upstairs.
And a termite garden? Well in the tropics, you need a pool. Here's Susie jumping into one of the Buley Rockholes at Litchfield. It was actually pretty crowded that day. Termites get lots of visitors.