Waterfalls, plunge pools and even a lost city..
Photos by Tourism NT and Highway Dreams
An ancient landscape home to stunning waterfalls that cascade over sandstone plateaus, crystal clear swimming holes and intriguing termite mounds- it’s obvious why Litchfield National Park is one of the most visited National Parks in Australia. Undeniably a hit with overseas tourists and domestic travellers alike, Litchfield is keenly marked on many travellers’ bucket lists. We were lucky enough to have visited the park recently and have fond memories of its natural beauty, particularly the unforgettable waterfalls.
Litchfield National Park is around 120kms south west of Darwin city and remains very easily accessible by standard car however some areas are limited to the more adventurous with 4×4’s. Some people choose to ‘day trip’ to Litchfield from Darwin but honestly if you can, make some time to stay at one of the accommodation options close by at towns like Batchelor or at one of the caravan parks located in the park itself. You really need more than just a day to explore the area, especially if you plan on taking a dip in some of the best swimming holes our country has to offer. Be warned though it can get quite warm and humid at times. There is a kiosk located in the park for refreshments, but still take plenty of water with you and take your time (and your camera).
The ‘gateway’ to Litchfield National Park is the small township of Batchelor, named after politician Egerton Lee Batchelor (1865-1911) who was the minister for the Northern Territory. This a great place to replenish fuel, stock up on some snacks and take a quick toilet break before heading off for some exploring. There are detailed maps available from the information centre which will prove to be quite valuable, especially if this is your first trip to the park. The Park Headquarters are also located in Batchelor and it is advised to call in and see them too, especially if bushwalking is on your list of activities. Let them know your plans.
The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife commission has done an excellent job of both preserving the delicate landscapes, flora and fauna of Litchfield whilst still providing great access for tourists including disability access where possible. By providing walking trails, boardwalks, viewing platforms and informative billboards, tourists are able to get the most from their visit. A word of warning however during the peak season (May to October), some days can be standing room only. During the wet season, most swimming areas are closed as are most 4×4 tracks but the kiosk, picnic areas and viewing platforms remain open (check first to make sure). The waterfalls flow all year long.
One of the first stops along the way as you enter the park from Batchelor is to view the incredible Magnetic Termite Mounds. These termite mounds have been ingeniously constructed in a north-south orientation (hence the name ‘magnetic’). It is thought that the termites choose this pattern to help moderate the temperatures inside their nests. It is remarkable to think these aren’t placed there by humans as the almost grid-like sequence seems too perfect. The average heights of these mounds are just over 2 metres with some of the ‘cathederal’ mounds extending to over 4 metres. A wheelchair friendly boardwalk leads you out close to the mounds, perfect for photos.
Continuing along the main road you will come to the turnoff which leads to arguably the most scenic spots in the park, Buley Rockhole and Florence Falls. Buley Rockhole is a series of small waterfalls and rock pools perfect for finding a spot of your own to swim and relax.
Further along is Florence Falls, a twin waterfall with a perfect viewing platform for photos. A great place for a swim too if you can handle the 160 steps down (and back up). But many will agree it’s worth it.
If you have a 4×4 and don’t mind a bit of ‘rough road’ take a trek out to see the Lost City. A landscape of rock formations left behind as the soft sandstone cliffs eroded. The track is quite rocky and rough and careful driving is required. And whilst you are in the mood for the off-road stuff, venture out to Tabletop Swamp and Blythe Homestead. The Blythe Homestead, built in 1929 is situated at an old tin mine. An interpretive display has recently been erected to help demonstrate the trials and hardships of being so remote.
A part from the other numerous waterfalls, walking tracks and points of interest scattered through the park (too many to list here) are the famous Wangi Falls, the most popular place in the park to visit by far. The thundering falls and pandanus lined pools below make the Wangi Falls a superb place to cool off. Access is easy and the viewing platforms make for a photographers haven.
As I’ve only mentioned a few of the highlights of Litchfield here, you can see why I said above that you will need more than just a day to explore the area. Tolmer Falls, Cascades, Tjaetaba Falls and Greenant Creek are just a few more for your list. Make sure you grab one of those mud-maps before your venture out too but one thing I really appreciated was how well everything was signposted. Hope you get out there soon.
Plenty of water
Litchfield Tourist Park
2916 Litchfield Park Road
Rum Jungle, NT 0845
08 8976 0070
Parks and Wildlife Commission NT