Guide to the perfect Litchfield day trip.
During my short 4 month stay in the NT, I have visited Litchfield National Park a total of 5 times. And that is nowhere near enough! Pack yourselves a fresh lunch, some cool water and bathers, and prepare for a day you won’t forget!
For my most recent visit, my mum had flown up from Victoria and I was eager to show her this amazing place I had discovered since moving here for the wet season. We had rescheduled three times because of the torrential rains and wind, but when we woke up to perfect sunshine on a Thursday morning, we knew that today was the day!
Later on as we rounded that final corner to Florence falls, which was our second stop for the day, she summed up my feelings for Litchy perfectly. She saw the falls and her mouth dropped, after which she turned to me and said in a happily dazed tone; “I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven”.
Well said mum, I couldn’t agree more.
I would describe Litchfield Park Road as the never-ending road to perfect waterfalls and beautiful swimming holes, with walking tracks and lookouts that will keep you busy for the entire day (or more if you have the time!). Our usual route begins from Darwin, heading out onto the Stuart Highway for around 1 hour, straight down to Bachelor Road. This will take you onto Litchfield Park Road, where you begin to see and feel the untouched, humid, (very) green beauty of the park. We always begin our exploring at Buley Rockhole, where the cool swimming spots seem to get better and better as you make your way down the cascades. If you’re lucky, you might even get to have a swim with the resident monitor lizard, who spends his time floating around the bottom pool and sussing out the new visitors for the day.
From there we continue onto Florence Falls. I still remember the first time I saw Florence, after being stuck in a mandatory 14-day quarantine at Howards Springs upon arrival into the NT. My partner, who had already moved up a few weeks before me, took me to Litchfield the day after I was allowed out. Gosh, did it exceed my expectations! You hear the crashing of Florence Falls well before you see it, and it isn’t until you reach the steps into the swimming hole that the full view comes into sight. Absolute, jaw-dropping scenes. Especially in the wet season, where the volume of water makes the sound of the falls even more exciting. Take some goggles with you and watch the fish swim around your feet! If you are a confident swimmer, you can swim right up to the falls and feel your heart race in response to the pummeling water crashing down meters from you. Things become seriously magical when the sun comes out, and turns the spray into a veil of shimmering water before you. Or just lay on the rocks, close your eyes, and let the sound take you to heaven, as it did for mum and me.
When it is (sadly) time to move on from Florence, head back onto Litchfield Park Road and follow it on to Wangi Falls. I haven’t had the pleasure of swimming at Wangi as it can be dangerous in the wet season and closes earlier than Buley and Florence falls. However, this didn’t really matter to me. Wangi is spectacular enough to just stand there and stare at for minutes on end, which I have done on multiple occasions (as seen in picture above). If you continue past the Wangi lookout, there is a beautiful walk that takes you up behind the falls and back around to the car park. Look up into the trees to see the bats hanging around above you, but lower your eyes to the path frequently so you don’t find yourself in the middle of a Golden Orb-Weaver spider web! (They like to set up shop right across the path, which is great for us…). The picnic area is the perfect spot to grab the cooler bag out of the car and have some well-earned lunch before making your way to the next spot.
Tolmer Falls is the next waterfall to see along the way. While you can’t swim here, the lookout is not something to miss. Tolmer is massive, and you will find yourself watching the long, slender route of the water crashing into the gorge, and eyeing-off the mysterious pool surrounded by caves and forest, wishing you were down there for a closer look! The Tolmer Falls loop walk is a 1.6km walk that takes you back to the carpark and is well worth doing, as you get to see the stunning pools at the top of the gorge and the cascades that lead to it. Make sure you check out the main platform as well, this view is panoramic, and you will see the beauty of Litchfield all the way to the horizon.
If you have time, pull into Tjaetaba Falls car park and complete the Green Ant creek walk to the falls. This walk is 2.7km long, so will take some time and energy on a warm day, but the cool plunge pool waiting for you at the end makes it well worth your effort! Walker creek is another great spot to stop for a swim when it is open. Here, you can hop along to multiple camping spots each with their own little swimming hole under the canopy.
Now, that is a successful day at Litchfield park. Continue down to Cox Peninsula Rd, where you will eventually find Berry Springs Tavern for some dinner and a cold drink. The perfect end to the perfect day. Have fun in heaven!
About the guest author:
Nikki is a physiotherapy student, living in the Northern Territory. Currently traveling throughout her studies, she aims to source the best coffee, snacks, walks and waterfalls that Australia has to offer after a few restrictive years of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions at her home in Victoria.
Email: [email protected]