REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: Let the NT leave you screaming for more

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from ACM, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by Katherine Times editor Chris McLennan.

My wife was checking her phone and was startled to see a friend's social media post with accompanying pictures of her husband and kids enjoying a splash about in the water.

Water sports are a recommended activity to escape the tropical heat of the Northern Territory's Top End but you have to pick your spot.

Today I thought we'd take a tour of one such spot, a travelogue for places to visit once the borders are open again.

The brilliant turquoise water of the Arafura Sea and Darwin Harbour lure many tourists.

Locals stay way back from the edge and take bets on how long the tourists will last.

If the crocs don't get you, the stingers (box jellyfish) will.

There also are sharks, boaties (who are not required to observe .05 alcohol restrictions) and lost fishing tackle to snare the unwary as well.

Look closely: The crocodiles are outnumbered by snakes. Picture: Clare Pearce

Look closely: The crocodiles are outnumbered by snakes. Picture: Clare Pearce

But my wife's friends knew better than that, they were locals.

They had taken a day trip to Fogg Dam. Only 45 minutes from Darwin near the delightfully named Humpty Doo, Fogg Dam was one of those "food bowls of the north" experiments gone horribly wrong.

There are always studies and whatnot in progress to turn all the NT's wet season rain into food production, they are still at it today.

Fogg Dam was built on the Adelaide River floodplain in 1956 to create a rice industry.

The rice grew a treat, this new diet was a boon to the local wildlife especially the magpie geese who flew in and cleaned the lot up. They never left.

Within a couple of years the whole scheme was abandoned and now it is a conservation reserve and most of the best wetlands for bird watching in Australia.

The Dahl's Aquatic Frog is one non-lethal inhabitant of Fogg Dam. Photo: Clare Pearce.

The Dahl's Aquatic Frog is one non-lethal inhabitant of Fogg Dam. Photo: Clare Pearce.

It even has a raised platform for visitors to check out lily-pad covered water. My family and I have picnicked there on the platform.

My wife was shocked to see on her phone her friend's family splashing in the waters of the dam.

"Get them out," she shrieked aloud, furiously sending messages which failed to arrive because once you leave the city limits, much of the NT is a mobile phone blackspot.

Her friend said she felt sick when she did receive the warnings.

As well as copious birdlife, Fogg Dam has another claim to fame.

Fogg Dam has one of the highest biomass of predators in the world. IN THE WORLD!

It is writhing with python and death adders, not to mention crocodiles as well. Just looking at the water can be lethal.

There are warnings on the road going not to get out of your vehicle.

My wife's friends were playing in it but I can happily report they survived to tell the tale.

So come to the Territory after this is all over, Fogg Dam is waiting to see you.

Chris McLennan

Editor, Katherine Times.

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