Litchfield National Park, with its lush woodlands, spectacular waterfalls, sparkling plunge pools and tall termite mounds is an increasingly popular trip from Darwin. In Northern Territory terms it’s just a short two-hour drive away. What’s more all the main natural attractions – including Buley Rockhole and the dramatic Florence, Tolmer and Wangi falls - are easily accessible from Litchfield’s main road. Check out the cleverly-constructed termite mounds, swim in pandanus-lined pools and take scenic walks on a day trip. Or stay, camp and hike or 4WD to the more remote reaches of the park.
The main route to Litchfield National Park is on the sealed Stuart Highway, via the tiny gateway township of Batchelor. You can also bump along the part gravel road past Berry Springs Nature Reserve, though it’s sometimes cut off during the wet season, from November to April. If you’d rather focus on scenery than steering, join one of the many all-inclusive tours from Darwin.
Just a few kilometers after the park’s entrance you’ll see the surreal, tombstone-like field of giant termite mounds. Million-strong armies of tiny termites have built these on a north-south axis to protect the interiors from intense sun. Marvel at their intelligently designed buildings - many of which are more than 2m tall – from the nearby boardwalk.
From here waterfalls lure you off the sealed road at regular intervals. Swim beneath the tumbling twin torrents of Florence Falls or float on your back and gaze up at the vine forest gully. Picnic next to wallaroos and short-eared rock wallabies and climb to the spectacular viewing spot. From here, the 1.5km Florence Creek Walk leads you to the popular Buley Rockhole, a series of natural spas and whirlpools fringed by tranquil bushland. Further along, stop to see Tolmer Falls rushing over two soaring escarpments and take the easy Tolmer Falls Walk through rust-hued sandstone country.
From nearby Greenant Creek, a 90-minute return walk takes you to the top of Tjaetaba Falls, a sacred Aboriginal site. The next must-see is Wangi Falls, Litchfield’s largest and most accessible waterfall. Swim in the plunge pool, picnic with roosting fruit bats and walk to the viewing platform at the waterfall’s base. From here, the Wangi Falls Walk continues through monsoon forest and up to a stone escarpment. Further along, the track to Walker Creek is dotted with eight rockhole camping sites, a picnic area and many idyllic swimming spots. The last attraction spilling off the sealed road is Bamboo Creek, the site of an abandoned tin mine.
Off the beaten track, you can 4WD to the weathered sandstone domes of The Lost City or the historic Blythe Homestead Ruins, also the site on an old tin and copper mine. Visit Surprise Creek Falls or Tjaynera (Sandy Creek), where a cycad-bordered walk winds through the valley to the plunge pool. For a different perspective, take a scenic helicopter or join a wildlife cruise along the Reynolds River. Spend two or three days hiking the rugged sandstone plateau on the 39km Tabletop Track, camping overnight at Florence Falls, Tabletop Swamp or Greenant Creek.
For a multi-day adventure closer to the main attractions, pitch a tent at the picturesque camping sites near Wangi and Florence Falls, Buley Rockhole and Walker Creek. Alternatively, lodge for the night in Batchelor or return to Darwin, where you can discuss your Litchfield adventure with an equally enthusiastic local.