Stunning waterfalls, natural pools and a dramatic landscape lure visitors to Litchfield National Park.
By Jennifer Ennion
Let your worries fade away as you soak under a refreshing waterfall in the Northern Territory's stunning Litchfield National Park. The plethora of thundering falls and cool plunge pools will entice you to stay awhile and breathe in the serenity of the surrounding monsoon forest. When it's time to wander, follow the waterfall walkways, visit historic ruins from pioneering days and stare in amazement at gigantic termite mounds that dot the landscape.
HOW TO GET THERE
Litchfield National Park is a two hour drive south of Darwin, in the Northern Territory. The main route in is the sealed Stuart Highway, via the tiny gateway township of Batchelor. Be sure to check road conditions, as many of the 4WD tracks close during the wet season (November to March).
- Swim beneath a waterfall
- Soar above the Lost City on a scenic helicopter flight
- Join a multi-day tour of the park's highlights
Litchfield National Park highlights
TOP THINGS TO DO IN LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK
Marvel at the landscape
Armies of termites have created a surreal, tombstone-like field of giant termite mounds about 17 kilometres (10.6 miles) from the eastern boundary of the park. Marvel at the mounds, some of which are two metres (6 feet 7 inches) tall, from a nearby boardwalk. Also worth checking out is the Lost City, a collection of strange rock formations created through eons of erosion. It's an impressive sight but you'll have to be in a 4WD to make it over the rough track in. It's best to leave the driving to a local expert and sign up for a tour. AAT Kings has a great all-encompassing tour of Litchfield, taking in the termite mounds, as well as Florence, Tolmer and Wangi falls. It's a full day tour out of Darwin, with lunch provided and travel in an air-conditioned coach. Adventure Tours offers a handful of multi-day trips that tick off the region's major attractions, including the waterfalls and swimming holes of Litchfield.
Cool down beside a waterfall
Swim beneath the tumbling twin torrents of Florence Falls before enjoying a picnic lunch alongside resident wallaroos and short-eared rock wallabies. Snap some great photos from the viewing platform and make time for the 1.5 kilometre (0.9 mile) Florence Creek Walk, which leads you to the popular Buley Rockhole, a collection of natural spas and whirlpools. Further along you'll come to the impressive Tolmer Falls, which will lead you to the gentle, 45 minute Tolmer Falls Walk through sandstone country. You may even be lucky enough to see some of the rare ghost and orange horseshoe bats that live here. Be sure to also visit Wangi Falls, Litchfield's largest and most accessible waterfall, where you can have a swim before embarking on the one hour (return) Wangi Falls Walk through monsoon forest. The waterfalls are a popular feature on tour company itineraries, and Viator runs a good range of day tours out of Darwin, as does Indigofera Ecotours. Indigofera's three day tour includes the waterfalls but also gives guests the option of visiting Blyth Homestead and the Bamboo Creek Tin Mine ruins.
Go off the beaten track
Soar above Litchfield National Park in a helicopter. Get a bird's-eye view of Wangi Falls and the escarpment on a six minute tour with Litchfield Helicopter Flights, or spend a little longer in the air on a 15 minute tour that covers Tjaetaba and Tolmer waterfalls, and the Lost City. There is also a 30 minute flight that follows Reynolds River, and an hour long option that includes landing beside a private waterfall for a swim. For something a little different, check out the abandoned Bamboo Creek Tin Mine. Learn about the local Aboriginal people's connection to the site and its pioneering history with Northern Territory Indigenous Tours. On your way in or out of the park, stop at Batchelor Butterfly Farm, the territory's first butterfly sanctuary. Tours run daily.
Visit Blyth Homestead
Dating back to the early 1920s, Blyth Homestead is a great example of tough pioneer life in the Australian Outback. The homestead was abandoned in the early 1960s, and the property was also the location of an old tin mine, now in ruins. The site has since been restored to the point that there is an interpretive display about the trials and tragedies of this remote location. Entry is free, but you need a 4WD to get here. The road is inaccessible between November and April.
Sleep in the park
There is a lot to see in Litchfield National Park and if you want to take your time it's handy to stay nearby. You'll find Litchfield Tourist Park outside the north-eastern corner of the park, about 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) from Batchelor. The tourist park has a huge range of accommodation choices, especially catering to families, campers and caravanners. There's a homestead that's ideal for large groups, self-contained cabins, no-frills bunkhouses for travellers on a budget, and plenty of powered and unpowered camp sites. Dine on crocodile, buffalo or barramundi burgers from the café, and relax in the pool after a big day exploring. There is also the basic Litchfield Safari Camp, located on the western edge of the park, about four kilometres (2.5 miles) from Wangi Falls. Stay in one of a handful of basic tent set-ups or grab a camp or caravan site.
Stay in Darwin
One of the easiest ways to see Litchfield is on a day trip from Darwin. Relax in the surrounds of a tropical garden at the five-star Mandalay Luxury Stay. The self-contained villa has harbour and esplanade views and is close to the city centre. SKYCITY Darwin is a great option for couples and families, especially if you want to be right on the beach. Set on 30 acres (12 hectares), this casino hotel has 24 hour entertainment, an infinity pool and lagoon pool, five restaurants and a day spa. While in Darwin, be sure to check out Mindil Beach Sunset Market, where you can dine on Asia-Pacific-inspired cuisine and pick up local artwork. The market is held every Thursday between May and October.
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