Exploring Litchfield National Park, NT
Delving into Australia’s Northern Territory brings with it a treasure trove of natural wonders, and none more beautiful than the Litchfield National Park.
A mere 100km from Darwin (after all, once you’ve made the trek up there, anything shorter than 500km is mere), the Litchfield National Park covers roughly 1500 square kilometres and features monsoonal rainforests, waterfall-fed plunge pools, huge termite mounds, golden sandstone surrounds and camping in natural paradises.
The best time of year to visit is the dry season, from May to September, as the wet season can be very unpredictable, and many roads and waterholes will close for visitors’ safety.
Accessibility isn’t too much of an issue for those without a four-wheel drive. There is an easy loop road and simple access to all the main attractions, while for those with four-wheel drive capabilities, detours off these main roads offer moderate to challenging adventures.
The waterfalls of Litchfield National Park
A region that is shaped by water, the bounty of waterfalls and swimming holes are one of Litchfield National Parks’ major attractions. Two absolute favourites are:
Florence Falls remains a fan favourite and is conveniently located near the Florence Falls 2WD and Old 4WD Camp. Bookings are essential for these campsites and must be made online before you arrive. Once there, simply begin the short 700-metre trek through the rainforest, surrounded by the shadowy, vibrant rainforest – the fronds pierced every now and then by golden sunlight and perhaps the occasional golden orb-weave spider. The beauty and popularity of this swimming hole is easy to see once you arrive – twin waterfalls have joined to create a tropical oasis. The left waterfall is responsible for the audible crash of water you’ll notice during your walk, while the right is more leisurely, drifting down in a picture-perfect calmness. Golden sandstone walls and monsoon forest surround you, creating a sense of luxury seclusion from the world. Swimming is permitted – even encouraged!
Larger than Florence Falls and offering a more authentic swampy kind of swimming hole, Wangi Falls’ large open body of water is perfect for swimming, kayaking or kicking around with noodles. Immerse yourself in nature, with lilies and mossy algae floating around the reedy edges, while dragonflies, water striders and whirligig beetles investigate their new water friends. Twin waterfalls break their way down the stone walls. A natural spa bath can be found a few metres up the rock face, and due to its popularity can require a bit of a wait to enjoy. The sun-warmed stone and natural ambience make Wangi Falls an absolute must for any Litchfield National Park visit, and picnic areas and camping are just a short walk away (camping bookings must be made online before arrival). Wangi Falls is often closed for swimmers during the wet season from October to March due to dangerous water currents – but visiting for some spectacular photography is still encouraged.
Litchfield National Park termite mounds
Visiting the Top End is a series of ticking off bucket list items and appreciating natural wonders that you might not have even thought to add to your list. For many, the endlessly impressive Litchfield National Park’s termite mounds are just that location. Up to 100 years old, these termite mounds are unique to Australia’s northern regions. Two varieties are available to visit, the huge and lumpy cathedral termite mounds that stand up to seven metres in height and can be found in open landscapes throughout the forest, and the magnetic termite mounds. The latter of these are much thinner than their tall counterparts, with thin edges oriented north-west while the broad backs face east-west, regulating the temperatures perfectly for the termites inside. Visit the viewing area with attached boardwalks to appreciate the beauty of these huge structures.
There is plenty to do with your 4WD too, check out the ancient sandstone structures in The Lost City or tackle Reynolds Track to experience Tjaynera Falls (Sandy Creek Falls) and Surprise Creek Falls. If you want to camp away from the crowds, why not head to Central Valley and enjoy the serenity on the banks of the East Reynolds River.
There are countless things to see and do in Litchfield National Park, and its surrounding areas, but remember to plan ahead, book your camping, and be prepared for like-minded visitors!
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