Kakadu National Park

Wildlife : Golden Silk Orb Weaving Spider

Kakadu National Park
Name: Golden Silk Orb Weaving Spider

Scientific Classification: of the Nephila genus.

Alternative Names: golden orb-weavers, giant wood spiders, banana spiders

Location: they are found throughout Australia

 

Fast Facts:

  • Nephila comes from the greek language and means ‘love of spinning’.
  • These spiders live in warmer climates throughout the world, such as northern Austrlaia, Asia, Africa, and central America.
  • There are several species of golden orb weavers, with a variety of colours like silvery grey, plum and light green, but they often have stripey, banded legs.
  • It is not the spider that is golden, it’s their intricate web. Some webs can be 1 metre in diameter, they are usually spun from human eye level upwards so make sure you are watching were you are going!  Various compounds contribute to the golden colour of the web, which is believed attracts more insects.  People have tried to make clothes from the silk.
  • The spider has venom similar to black widow spiders but it is not as aggressive and is not lethal to humans.
  • Females are usually larger than males at around 5cm long (not including legspan!!), and the largest recorded spider was 6.9cm long. These spiders are so big, they have been seen feeding on small birds, bats and snakes, but they usually eat the regular smorgasboard of insects like flies, cicadas, locusts and moths.
  • Their main predators are wasps, who land on their web and pretend to be a damsel in distress. The spider comes over, is stung by the wasp and is carried away to be devoured in the wasp’s den.
  • These are the oldest genus of spiders in the world – a fossilsed specimen was discovered to be 165 million years old!

 

Cuteness Rating: none… totally gross.

Danger Rating: if you get bitten, go seek medical help.  You’ll have redness and soreness and blisters, but beware of an allergic reaction.  Just don’t touch them, ok?!

 

Our Encounter:

We’ve seen plenty of these, much to Juz’s dismay.  The first scare was in Meckering – Juz went to visit the rose garden and shortly afterwards returned to the Troopy white and wide eyed.

 

Spiders in Meckering

 

There were plenty of hairy moments due to poorly positioned webs in Kakadu National Park. It seems they like to construct their traps in places that would have a lot of insects, such as near water, in and around toilet blocks or lit up picnic shelters, or on flowering bushes that attract bees.

 

Kakadu National Park

 

Juz’s anarachnophobia allows her to take pictures of spiders, provided that they are still and she is aware of them and any others that may be around her.  If they move or she is confronted with a surprise spider, then she is the first to bolt in the opposite direction.  This does not count for Jumping Spiders – they are super cute.

 

 

Jumping Spider

Wildlife : Jumping Spiders

Jumping Spider

 

Name: Jumping Spiders

Scientific name: Salticidae family

Location: Commonly found all around Australia.

 

With about 5000 species, the jumping spider family is the largest family of spiders in the world!  These inquisitive little creatures have the best vision of all of the arthropods and are dinural, which means they are active during the day.  This gives them the opportunity to make use their fabulous eyesight.

 

They have four pairs of eyes, with one huge primary pair of eyes at the front of their heads – their anterior median eyes.  The other three pairs are secondary visual receptors.  The posterior median eyes help detect motion, and the posterior lateral eyes are wide angle motion detectors that allow 360° vision.  The anterior lateral eyes (ALE) are the most complex of the secondary eyes and provide clearness of vision – so much so that all other eyes can be covered and the spider could still hunt.

 

Hunting involves a period of stalking its prey and calculating distance, before the spider creeps as close as it can get.  It then attaches a dragline of silk before pouncing on its prey.  They inject some venom to immobilise their prey before dinnertime! They are mainly carnivorous but some species do feed on nectar.

 

Jumping Spider

 

Our Encounter:

We’ve seen so many jumping spiders around Australia during our travels.  Their colours and markings have ranged from black and white to green and red, and Juz thinks they are super cute – despite her occasional debilitating phobia of spiders…

 

Jumping Spider

 

Miners Lookout and Park While we were in town, we also checked out the Miners Lookout and Miners Park, and learnt about

Experience : Kakadu National Park – Part 2

Continued from Experience : Kakadu National Park – Part 1

 

DAY 4

Bukbukluk Lookout

We got up early to check out Bukbukluk Lookout at sunrise.  It was a nice little lookout, and we later found out that bukbuk means pheasant coucal – a bird that we saw many times over the previous days.

 

Kakadu National Park

 

Yurmikmik

Yurmikmik is within the Jawoyn people’s country and there are a few walking trails available.  We tried to do as much as we could but we were really tired from the day before.  We aimed to complete three walks – Motor Car Falls, Boulder Creek and the Lookout, which provided amazing 360° views of the surrounding sandstone cliffs.

 

Kakadu National Park

 

The 3.8km walk to Motor Car Falls started with a bouncy rope bridge that allowed only one person at a time.  It was the most entertaining part of the journey – the rest of the way was hot, rocky and dry.  Luckily, bush passionfruit was available along the way to fuel the long hike through grass and woodland.

 

Kakadu National Park

 

Once we arrived at Motor Car Falls, we had refreshing dip in the pool before looking around.  We found some huge Golden Orb Spiders in massive webs that the butterflies skilfully dodged, and there were turtles and freshwater yabbies in the water.

 

 

On the way back, we went to Boulder Creek and it proved to be the best way to end the day.  We climbed the cascading falls and cooled off in the pretty pools.  We only went as far as the first tier, but two girls we met along the way went up even further.

 

Kakadu National Park

 

Kambolgie

Because we were so exhausted from the last two days, we made our way to camp early.  When we arrived, there was smoke everywhere and fires surrounding the camp site.  As it turned out, the rangers were patch burning the area to clear the dry fodder, increase biodiversity of plants and create a firebreak to protect the campers from unexpected wildfires.  It was great to meet the rangers and watch the yellow grass burn and crackle as the flames grew.  We noticed hundreds of grasshoppers jumping around, doing their best to get away from the flames and asked the rangers about how the lizards and other critters deal with the controlled burning.  They advised us that they factor that into the path of the fire and ensure pockets of unburnt land for animals to flee to.  Before they left, the rangers also hosed down the toilets so we had clean utilities for our stay – WIN!

 

 

Kambolgie was the best camp spot, in our opinion.  There was heaps of space, drop toilets, picnic benches and fire places and while it only costs $5 per person per nights, they were not accepting payment.  Recycling bins were available at the entrance and there were NO MOSQUITOES after the sun went down.  This could have been from the back burning but it was lovely to sit by the fire and enjoy a nice glass of wine.

 

DAY 5

Ikoymarrwa

While this location isn’t marked on the map, we were given the heads up at the information centre a few days earlier.  We were unsure where the turn off was because it’s also unsigned but once we found the place, it’s just a short walk to waterfalls and swimming hole.  As you explore further down the creek, you’ll find plenty of St Andrews Cross spiders waiting for a meal.

 

Miners Lookout and Park While we were in town, we also checked out the Miners Lookout and Miners Park, and learnt about

 

Picnic facilities and a fireplace are also available – with the possibility of camping too.

 

 

We knew we had completed our Kakadu experience when we got to the Mary River Roadhouse.  Overall, we really enjoyed our time in Kakadu and our only regret is that we didn’t go in June, when all of the attractions are open.  While we only spent five days in Kakadu, but it’s so big that you could easily spend two weeks exploring the park.

 

Miners Lookout and Park While we were in town, we also checked out the Miners Lookout and Miners Park, and learnt about

Holmes Jungle

Experience : Holmes Jungle Nature Park

Holmes Jungle

 

We woke up early on Take A Walk In The Park Day to head over to Holmes Jungle before the day got too hot. The nature park covers about 250 hectares and protects a monsoon forest, right on the fringe of Darwin’s northern suburbs. We visited at the end of the Wet Season so it was a bit damp and overgrown, but we had a fantastic journey into what seemed like another world.

 

We parked the Troopy at the Hilltop Picnic Area and took the Woodland Walk to the forest. It was strange how quickly the environment changed from dry and grassy to damp and shady. We were suddenly surrounded by tall trees and loud shrieks coming from the canopy. We came across a Keelback Snake and Jewel Spider before the path narrowed and all but disappeared into the tall green grass.

 

Keelback Snake - Holmes Jungle

 

We pushed our way through the grass, which was about 2 metre tall, and moved as quickly as possible – we’d already come across one snake and we didn’t want to see another one! We came out of Holmes Jungle with grass seeds all over our arms and legs, but with big smiles on our faces. It was quiet an adventure to come before the annual cleanup after the wet season.

 

Jewel Spider - Holmes Jungle

 

The Big Camera

Big Things : The Big Camera, Meckering

Located about 133km east of Perth, the Big Camera is a museum of photography and has a huge range of cameras and video recorders.  The guy who runs the place is super friendly and has even put up a place where you can prop your camera and set the timer so you can be in a picture next to the Big Camera.

 

The Big Camera

 

Meckering

This little town was flattened by an earthquake in 1968 that lasted 40 seconds and measured 6.9 on the Richter Scale.  It destroyed buildings, the railway line, infrastructure, and major roads.  Miraculously, no one was killed, and we got to hear about the amazing story of the Salisbury ruins.  When the earthquake hit, the family’s 17 month old baby Debbie was sleeping in the lounge room and after the house collapsed, the baby was found completely unharmed and still asleep!  The guy at the Big Camera has a picture of the family about 20 years later and Debbie grew up to be quite a babe!

 

 

We stayed overnight in Meckering by the rosy Memorial Park, which to Juz’s terror was more like Jumanji Park because of the enormous webs that were built by hideous looking spiders.  Juz was strolling around the park and when she realised she was surrounded, she bolted back to the Troopy.  Later in the evening, we watched as a spider caught dozens of flies in its beautiful web, crawling out to investigate before bunjeeing back to the centre.  It was really fascinating.