About 2 hours to Darwin's south is Litchfield National Park with 15,000 square kilometres of weathered and ancient landscapes, magnetic termite mounds, warm year-round swimming in plunge pools, pleasant delightful bush walks and 4WD tracks. It can be reached by taking the turn off from the Stuart Highway to the township of
, the gateway to the National Park.
There are two distinct seasons in the Top End: the dry, cool season from May to October and the hot, wet season from November to April. The months of October and November are called the ‘build-up’ and are the hottest and driest times of the year. The drier times are better suited for a day-trip from Darwin, or overnight camping expedition to the area.
Originally the home of the Wagait people, European expeditions were made into the wild countryside in search of minerals. Until 1955, copper and tin was mined here, when the land was turned over to pastoral leases. In 1983, it was proclaimed a national park.
Scenic waterfalls with deep, crystal-clear plunge pools at their base are present year-round, for pleasant swimming and camping. Most popular of these is Wangi Falls. Be aware that that there can be freshwater crocodiles, who are fortunately more bashful than their estuarine cousins. Forests around the falls are scored with short and longer bushwalking trails.
Weathered sandstone escarpments and black soil plains, dotted with fascinating magnetic termite mounds, contrast with patches of monsoonal rainforest. The remote locations such as Tjaynera Falls (Sandy Creek) and the ancient sandstone formations of 'The Lost City' are accessible on four-wheel drive tracks.
Stop-off points with display boards are well-marked along the sealed network of roads through the park, making it easy to learn more about the history and ecology of this remarkable area.
Be sure to take plenty of water, sunscreen and insect repellant. Also take care to read warning signs near swimming spots.
Things to do:
Wangi Falls - has a large plunge pool with year-round flowing water, camping area, large grass picnic area and kiosk.
Florence Falls - steep stairs down to the pool allow great views of the top of the falls and camping is available near-by.
Tolmer Falls - has a 1.5 km walking track which afford wonderful views of the area. No swimming.
Buley rockhole - a series of cascading pools from a sandstone plateau
Tjayera Falls (Sandy Creek Falls) - pretty falls in a rainforest that is accessible by 4WD, bushwalking and bush-camping
The "Lost City" - freestanding sandstone pillar and block formation that looks like the ruins of an ancient city. The track is rough and rocky. Experience with 4WD vehicles advised.
Magnetic Termite Mounds - are dotted throughout the park
Tabletop Swamp - a wetlands area in the Tabletop Ranges. Better seen in the wet season.
Cascades - Pethericks Rainforest Reserve, a privately run area with wreckage of spitfire fighter, and is home to a colony of fruit bats. Entry fee applies.
Bamboo Creek Tin Mine - remains of an industrial tin mine from 1906, now heritage listed.
Blyth Homestead Ruins - a reminder of tough pioneering conditions of 1929. Access via 4WD track.