Adelaide River Field Trip, Northern Territory

by on May.21, 2013, under Fauna, Invertebrates, Reptiles, Uncategorized



In a  overnight trip to Adelaide River on the Stuart Hwy in Northern territory. We stayed at the Adelaide River Inn, in swags. The buffalo, which was a tame local in Adelaide River, made famous in the Crocodile Dundee movie, was affectionately known as Charlie and he is now deceased (2000) and is now on display at the Adelaide River Inn. The region has a colourful history originally a strong military presence was established here especially during world war 2. There is a old RAAF landing strip at Fenton  and an army installation now run down. While its mostly been well covered with removal of old bottles, military items etc. Its still relatively intact with numerous buildings, for those that cannot help themselves large amounts of sheets of iron that have to be investigated! The region is super warm and tin lifting is best in the early morning.

We had a NT parks permit to take images of reptiles and frogs long this stretch  of the territory. SO after we we had a dinner we went off spotlighting. The method of spotlighting varies. Some just drive in low gear with a hand held light and use headlights to look for movement on the road. The grass on the road edges was unusually high and difficult for sightings of geckos. A Fat tailed Gecko was seen. The real activity began when a Northern Death Adder was seen in a unusual posture straight like an arrow. The snake was carefully captured as they are dangerously venomous. In this region there are two colour forms the grey and reddish form. This one was grey form, but don’t worry minutes later 800 metres up the road an unusal reddish form with its caudal lure absent either a sloughing incident or a predator has taken it! Adders use a caudal lure to wave in the diection of an aproaching bird or mouse to entice them in close to the adders ambush radius. Death adders arguably have the fastest strike of Australian elapid snakes.

After a few hours road working , we switched to Robins Falls to search among a rock outcrop and were rewarded with Children’s Pythons Liasis childreni, Brown Tree Snakes Boiga irregularis (Often called Night Tiger) and Northern Spotted Rock Gehyra Gehyra nana and Gehyra australis. A rare sighting of a spider eating a frog was observed. Here were also Litoria rothi and L. dahli. Of course like most of our trip the inevitably sightings of Cane toads were common on the road around 30 and around the falls 6 individuals.


A Floodplains Death Adder Acanthopis cumingi a red form.


Head restraint necessary during capture.

SMW_night tiger juv2

An amazing (Night Tiger) Brown Tree Snake Boiga irregullaris.

Our trip was mostly to observe wildlife and uniquely see what life was like in the WW2 era. Unknown to many was that Adelaide River was bombed in 1943 and was the last time the NT was attacked by Japanese warplanes. We did take the tour traveling in the ute up thru the range. It is difficult to find and local advice is important as there are sevral ways to approach the site. Wild parrots flew across, screeching. Our look under the tin sheets revealed numerous Binoes Gecko a very common species. A small agamid and several sightings of Ctentus spp and some Gecko Gehyra australis. Be warned there are numerous sheets of asbestos in these old buildings and we avoided any activity associated with them. While primarily we were searching for large pythons, none were present. One of the buildings had an old man roo who had come to die in the security of the building. A few relics old cans and bottles were seen. Inside the buildings for those that enjoy micro bats there were several species roosting inside the chimneys.


Inside these old buildings was a mix of microbats, old remains and some geckoes.


This Gehyra australis active at night around the tree looking for prey.


Follow the old dirt road.

On the ledge of one of the buildings namely the hospital was a crafty Black – headed Monitor Varanus tristis which typical for the species asscoaites with building roof spaces across Australia. They adapt well to the secure roof space where food is plentiful.


As we left a Merten’s Water Monitor Varanus mertensi was seen near one of the creeks here. Beware there are saltwater crocs and foraging near the edge is a no no. After we took images of the Merten’s we motored on down towards the Licthfield National Park for a well earned swim and snorkel.