Top Marks for Top End Termite Tours

The inaugural Aussie Termite Tour organised by pest industry duo Nicky and Jay Turner proved to be a huge success.

The last week of June saw Pestie Profiles host the very first Aussie Termite Tour of the Top End of Australia. The tour had been a concept many years in the making, originally conceived by Scott Kleinschmidt, director of Australian Timber & Pest Research. The idea was to take pest management professionals – those with a basic understanding of termites, particularly our economically important species – and show them the amazing diversity of termite species here in Australia.

This year’s Aussie Termite Tour was hosted by the Pestie Profiles Podcast duo Jay and Nicky Turner. The group of guests consisted of both academics and owner-operators of pest management businesses from not only across Australia but New Zealand and the US.

The guests were given the opportunity to learn about the complex biology of termites found in the Northern Territory, particularly the mound-building species, and learn how each has unique strategies and relationships within the environment in which it is found. The tour included not only the Darwin district but also Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks, with guests experiencing the best Darwin and its surrounds have to offer.


Tour host Jay Turner using his hand lens to identify some suspected Tumultitermes sp.


The range of termite species encountered during the Termite Tour of the Top End was not limited to the cathedral termites Nasutitermes triodia and their iconic giant mounds or the magnetic termites Amitermes meridionalis. Other species found included the arboreal nesting species Nasutitermes graveolus, Schedorhinotermes sp., Macrognathotermes sp., Microcerotermes sp., Tumultermes sp., and Coptotermes acinaciformis. And of course, no termite tour of Darwin would be complete without experiencing a bite from the mandibles of the giant Darwin termite Mastotermes darwiniensis!


A termite mound
Dissecting a Coptotermes acinaciformis mound showing the hard exterior layer and the internal carton material


As intended, the termite tour wasn’t only about termites; it also included activities such as a sunset cruise of Darwin Harbour with an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet, spotting crocodiles at Cahills Crossing, night hunting for snakes at Fogg Dam, visiting the Aboriginal rock paintings at Ubirr Kakadu National Park, a twilight cruise of Yellow Water Billabong, and swimming in the crystal clear waters of Buley Rockhole in Litchfield National Park. The highlight of the trip for many was the helicopter pub crawl to some of the territory’s famous pubs and to see fields of magnetic and cathedral termite mounds, as well as water buffalo grazing in the wetlands, from the air!


Helicopter pub crawl at Crab Claw Island
Second stop of the helicopter pub crawl at Crab Claw Island


This year’s Aussie Termite Tour was planned to finish with a bang by joining in the firework celebrations of Territory Day on Mindil Beach. And as an added encore, those that were left standing the next day were given the opportunity to see Dr Theo Evans and his team in action doing termite research on the outskirts of Darwin.


Mindil Beach Casino, Darwin
About to celebrate Territory Day on the lawns of Mindil Beach Casino, Darwin


Guests were positive in their reviews of the tour, with the general consensus from everybody that attended was that this trip had possibly been the trip of a lifetime. For Jay and Nicky Turner, the success of the tour far exceeded their expectations.

“I don’t think we could have had a more amazing group, even if we handpicked them,” commented Mr Turner. “Everybody got along so well that I’m pretty sure that we would all now consider each other lifelong friends. An unexpected element for me was seeing the level of excitement that our international guests experienced from seeing what us Aussies just take for granted. I think everybody fed off that excitement.”

Details of the next Aussie Termite Tour will be announced on the Pestie Profiles Facebook page.