Litchfield National Park.
Litchfield National Park is on our Northern Territory Top 10 List
Litchfield National Park – Just an hour and a half (85km south via sealed road) from Darwin you’ll find Litchfield National Park, a natural playground of rugged sandstone escarpments, enormous magnetic termite mounds, monsoon rainforest, majestic waterfalls, cascading plunge pools, and historic ruins. Aboriginal people have lived in and around the Litchfield area for thousands of years and it is of particular importance to the Mak Mak Marranunggu (northern portion), Werat and Waray (southern portion) Aboriginal people whose ancestral spirits formed the landscape, plants and animals and are still present in the landscape today. The Park is spectacular at any time, though most 4WD tracks are closed during the wet season. This is still an ideal time to visit as the attractions are not so packed with visitors, the wildlife is abundant, the landscape is lush and green, and the creeks and waterfalls are in full flow. The Park attracts a wide variety of bird species and reptiles such as monitors. Many of the chief attractions are linked by a sealed road, although a 4WD vehicle is necessary to access some of the more remote natural attractions. The crystal-clear swimming holes that flow all year round, and abundance of pleasant bushwalking trails make Litchfield National Park a favourite among Darwin locals. Admission is free.
Must See Attractions:
A principal attraction in the Litchfield National Park is the spectacular double waterfall of Florence Falls that cascades into a plunge pool where visitors can take a refreshing dip. A scenic walk up 160 steps through monsoon forest takes you to a viewing platform high above the falls, which affords panoramic views of the open valley and the waterhole below. Florence Falls is 2WD accessible.
Another highlight is Wangi Falls, Litchfield National Park’s most popular and easily accessible attraction, offering some of the Park’s best swimming and picnicking opportunities. Open all year round, Wangi is closed for swimming in the Wet Season when water levels are at their peak, but remains open for viewing. This is well worth doing, as the photo opportunities are excellent and the noise of the water rushing down the Falls with great force can be heard from a great distance. Wangi Falls features a campground with all amenities and the 1.6km return Wangi Falls Walk (moderate intensity), and is 2WD accessible.
One of the most spectacular falls in Litchfield National Park, Tolmer Falls cascades over two high escarpments into a deep plunge pool. The bottom of the falls is home to several colonies of rare Ghost Bats and Orange Horseshoe Bats and there is a viewing platform at the top, which affords magnificent photographic opportunities.
The amazing Buley Rockhole incorporates a series of cascading waterfalls, plunge pools, and rockholes, which together provide visitors with a unique and private environment to either relax in privacy, or engage in some more athletic rock jumping pursuits! Camping is available (camping fees apply).
Nestled in an open valley and lush with native paperbarks, the Tjaynera (Sandy Creek) Falls feature an ordinarily uncrowded plunge pool, likely due to the fact that it can only be reached by a 1.7 kilometre walking trail. Camping options are available (camping fees apply) and the Falls are open May-November via 4WD access only.
Surprise Creek Falls is a fantastic place to relax and enjoy a swim in an uncrowded waterfall. Camping facilities are available (camping fees apply) and the Falls are 4WD access only.
Magnetic Termite Mounds are, as the name suggests, built by termites, and are amazing architectural feats complete with arches, tunnels, chimneys, insulation, and nursery chambers. These inspired creations are aligned north to south to minimise exposure to the sun and maximise temperature control, and when seen from the formal viewing area look like a strange sort of graveyard. Make sure you also visit the giant Cathedral Termite Mounds, some standing up to 4 metres tall.
The Lost City is a collection of rock formations that were left behind as the softer sandstone cap of the tabletop range eroded away. These impressive freestanding blocks and pillar formations stand forlornly, as if the ruins of a long-forgotten civilisation. Access to The Lost City is by experienced 4-wheeled-driving only.
Typical of many of the mines in the Northern Territory that operated in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Bamboo Creek Tin Mine is an excellent example of a labour intensive mine operated without the benefit of heavy machinery. The remains include the underground mine workings, the tin processing mill, and the associated domestic and industrial remains of the time.
The historic Blyth Homestead is located at the site of an old tin mine, now in ruins, and serves as a reminder of the harsh conditions faced by pioneers in remote areas. The Homestead has been untouched since it was abandoned in the early 1960’s but has recently been restored, and an interpretative display presents the various trials and tragedies experienced by the folks who once lived here. Access to the homestead is by 4WD only.
The excellent, 39 kilometre Tabletop Walk hikes through woodlands and along creek lines to scenic waterfalls and pools, providing experienced, fit, and well-prepared hikers the opportunity to experience the isolation of the Top End. To hike the entire track you must be willing to carry your own supplies and water, and camp with minimal facilities. There are link walks from Florence Falls, Greenant Creek, Wangi Falls, and Walker Creek that allow interested walkers to tackle shorter sections of the main Tabletop Track. The Walk is normally closed between September and March for the Wet Season, and to access the track at this time a permit must be obtained. If you are planning an extended walk involving overnight camping, you must obtain a permit prior to your trip and camp only in the three designated camping spots provided along the Tabletop Track. It is also recommended that both day and overnight walkers carry a detailed topographic map of the area, available from the Batchelor General Store.
Although there’s so much to see, explore, and do in Litchfield, you can spend as little as one day in the 1,500 square kilometre Park, taking a quick dip in each of the plunge pools and rockholes on the drive through on your way north to Darwin or south to Katherine. But to really experience the true beauty of Litchfield it’s recommended you stay overnight at one of the unique accommodation alternatives available, either in the township of Batchelor – the gateway to the National Park – or in the Park itself via its many camping facilites (camping fees apply). Meals and casual refreshments are available near Wangi Falls at Litchfield Café.