Darwin and the surrounding Top End is home to some of the best weather, most breathtaking scenery, and historically important sites in Australia, and is less often included in the traditional Australian travel trail, making it easier to find those pockets of real remote outback. 100km south of Darwin lies Litchfield National Park, named after Frederick Henry Litchfield – one of the initial explorers to visit the area in 1864. The park is a microcosm of Northern Territory wildlife and scenery crammed into 1500 square kilometers. Sometimes overshadowed by the ‘other’ famous big park in Australia’s Northern Territory, Litchfield has just as many amazing experiences to be had. You can explore the park using your own vehicle, or take a guided tour from Darwin, either way if you make it to the tropical north be sure to check out the best this park has to offer:
1. Florence Falls
Set just off the main sealed road that runs through the park and most likely the first set of falls you’ll arrive at after entering the park, Florence Falls is a beautiful segmented waterfall that splashes down 64 meters in total over several tiers to get to the idyllic plunge pool below. Set in amongst luscious rainforest there is a viewing platform close to the parking area to take in the amazing view of the falls and surrounding valley. Then walk down over 150 stairs to take a closer look and have a dip in the pool (check conditions). To further explore the surrounding area, the Sandy Creek and Florence Creek trails nearby are easy-going and mostly shaded.
2. Buley Rockholes
A 3 km trip along the Florence Creek trail from the Florence Falls will take you to the Buley Rockholes, a series of cascades, rapids and plunge pools. The Rockholes are surrounded by picturesque bushland and are a great spot for kids (and adults!) to have a splash around followed by a bit of cooling relaxation in the natural spas. This natural cascade features rockslides and some reasonably strong rapids depending on the time of year so always make sure swimmers (especially children) are supervised. Camping facilities are close by for those looking to stay a bit longer, camping fees do apply.
3. Tolmer Falls
A short walk from the main park road is the viewing platform to Tolmer Falls. The Tolmer Creek cuts a steep gorge through the Litchfield sandstone and plummets over 328 feet to a shimmering aqua pool below. As much as you’d love to dive right in, this pool isn’t open for swimming as a protection measure for the rare inhabitants of the nearby caves – ghost and orange horseshoe bats. If you do want a closer look, trails leading down further are available along Tolmer Creek.
4. Greenant Creek
One of the less crowded spots in the park, the walk along Greenant Creek is roughly 2.5 km round trip and is easily trekked within 2 hours. The initially shaded trail ambles easily along the Creek through beautiful monsoonal forest, before a brief climb takes you to the relatively secluded Tjaetaba Falls and pools further on. The falls area is an Aboriginal sacred site so swimming is only permitted in the plunge pools upstream. As with any swimming spot in Litchfield, make sure you check all signs and information before diving in.
5. Wangi Falls
Situated just off the main road in the west of the park these falls are both the most spectacular and the most visited in the park. As with other sights in the park there is a viewing platform if you take a short hike up, affording amazing views over the falls and the deep plunge pool. Beyond the platform, steps lead down to a boardwalk at water-level making it easy to slip in for a refreshing dip while admiring the towering surrounding escarpment from a different angle. Swimming is permitted during dry season only, from May until October as rising water levels during the wet season mean increased crocodile sightings, however, the higher volume of water also makes the falls all the more impressive. Camping, cafe and an art shop are all nearby.
6. Magnetic Termite Mounds
One of the first stops after entering the park from the east are the magnificent termite mounds. The mounds, built by million-strong colonies of termites, are often over 6 and a half feet tall, and are long and thin prompting many visitors to liken them to tombstones. To look at, the mounds aren’t as breathtaking as some of the park’s other attractions, but it’s the fascinating information about the engineering behind them that draws people in. They are all aligned north to south, minimizing heating from the sun and keeping the interior temperate, just the way the termites like it. Close by are larger cathedral mounds, which can rise to over 20 feet.
7. Tabletop Track
At 39km in total, the tabletop track is recommended for fit and well prepared walkers. Hiking the trail takes between 3 and 5 days and makes for a very unique experience of the Northern Territory outback as your wander along a series of creeks and pass waterfalls, through monsoonal forest and woodlands. Wildlife is abundant so keep your eyes peeled for wallabies and flying foxes. Camping is allowed only at designated areas along the trail, and it is mandatory to carry a topographic map of the area. It is also recommended to inform a reliable person of your intended route and estimated time of return. If you’re looking for an authentic outback adventure consider tackling the Tabletop Track.
8. Blyth Homestead
Located along one of the many 4×4 tracks in the south of the park, lies the Blyth Homestead, a rundown old shack built in the 1920s that sits exactly as it was left when abandoned in the 1960s. The homestead is a throwback to Litchfield’s mineral mining and farming history, and is a reminder of how truly remote the area was for early explorers, and is also an important architectural artifact. A 4 wheel drive vehicle is required to access the area, and road conditions should be checked before departing.
9. Walker Creek and Bamboo Creek Tin Mine
More easily accessible than Blyth Homestead, Bamboo Creek is the site of a remarkably well preserved tin mine which operated on and off between 1906 and the 1950s. The mine provides an excellent education into the methods and mechanisms used by early workers to extract the tin from the ground before the invention of heavy machinery. You’ll wonder how they worked so hard in the stifling conditions. Close by is the walk through Walker creek which takes around 2 hours round-trip and is a great spot to hear the calls of the local bird life.
10. The Lost City
Off the beaten track, and considered one of the best short walks in the path, a trail will take you to the stand-alone sandstone blocks of the The Lost City, so named due to their resemblance to some long-deserted prehistoric civilization. Again this site is accessible only by four-wheel drive and track conditions can change depending on time of year. If the road is open during your visit to Litchfield Park, we definitely suggest taking the time to check out this most impressive natural wonder.