Litchfield – The national part of northern Australia

The cascading waterfalls and sparkling plunge pools ensure that there is no question of where I would rather spend the day

marc_casolani
Marc Casolani
24 March 2017, 7:30am
Litchfield National Park lies in the hot, humid and wet climate of the northern territory
Litchfield National Park lies in the hot, humid and wet climate of the northern territory
When most people hear the word Litchfield, their mind immediately goes to the women’s prison in Orange Is The New Black. Despite there being no trace of Ruby Rose in this national park in the northern territory of Australia, the cascading waterfalls and sparkling plunge pools ensure that there is no question of where I would rather spend the day.  

In the hot, humid and wet climate of the northern territory were crocodiles lurk in both fresh and salt water areas, lays an area of almost 1,500km² called Litchfield National Park. Known for its waterfalls and fresh water lagoons or plunge pools, this could very well be the most valuable gem of the Northern Territory’s mainstream National Parks. The key attraction is the fact that you could swim in most areas since they are free from salt and fresh water crocodiles. To add to that luxury, these are some of the finest looking collection of waterfalls, plunge pools, lagoons and rock pools that you can find for thousands of kilometres. 

Known for its waterfalls and fresh water lagoons or plunge pools, this could very well be the most valuable gem of the Northern Territory’s mainstream National Parks
Known for its waterfalls and fresh water lagoons or plunge pools, this could very well be the most valuable gem of the Northern Territory’s mainstream National Parks
The Northern Territory is known to be one of the more volatile regions in Australia. The climate is extreme with two distinct seasons. The first is wet and humid where cyclones are not uncommon (October to April) and the dry season (May to September) where days are warm and beautiful but at night temperatures can to around 0°C, typical of a desert region. 

the waterfalls that cascade into crystal clear pools, make an idyllic backdrop for a swim
the waterfalls that cascade into crystal clear pools, make an idyllic backdrop for a swim
One major factor contributing to the success of this national park is that a good majority of it is accessed by tarmaced roads, giving the less adventurous traveller an easy route to some incredible landscapes and ensuring that a tour of the park can be done pretty quickly. Don’t get me wrong though, there are still enough off-road and dirt tracks to get your heart pumping, if you are that way inclined, however you will need a four-wheel drive or some form of off-road vehicle to explore these areas. Very few dirt tracks are accessible by two-wheel drive cars. 

there are still enough off-road and dirt tracks to get your heart pumping, if you are that way inclined
there are still enough off-road and dirt tracks to get your heart pumping, if you are that way inclined
Litchfield National Park is home to a number of stunning sights. As previously noted, the waterfalls that cascade into crystal clear pools, make an idyllic backdrop for a swim. The iconic magnetic termite mounds are worth a visit. Here termites build mounds as high up as three metres. They are relatively flat and mysteriously all aligned according to the earth’s magnetic field. Take a step back and they look like tombstones, just much larger. The weathered sandstone pillars of the Lost City are also worth a visit but are at the end of a very rocky 10km track accessible only by four-wheel drive. The shady monsoon forest in the gorges was created thousands of years ago and it is now a haven for hundreds of native bird species and the plateau supports a rich range of woodland flora. 

To add to that luxury, these are some of the finest looking collection of waterfalls, plunge pools, lagoons and rock pools that you can find for thousands of kilometres
To add to that luxury, these are some of the finest looking collection of waterfalls, plunge pools, lagoons and rock pools that you can find for thousands of kilometres
The geology is mainly sandstone and limestone and in the past the park has been subject to copper and tin mining projects, like most of the national parks within Australia, though most of these all over the country have been shut down. As in most of Australia, Aboriginal people have roamed these lands for thousands of years with the people of this area known as the Mak Mak Marranunggu, Werat and Waray people. 

There is a lot to enjoy and savour within this park, and you definitely don’t want to rush it
There is a lot to enjoy and savour within this park, and you definitely don’t want to rush it
Darwin would be the closest city to Litchfield at 100km away and the sleepy town of Batchelor would be your closest port of call if you were to choose not to camp within the park. If are deciding to camp then Batchelor would be the last place that you can stock up on supplies. Ideally if you have your own vehicle, it is recommended that you fill a couple of spare jerry cans of fuel from Darwin and like that save yourself a difference of 30c per litre in fuel prices. You can technically cover Litchfield National Park in a day, however I would recommend against this because there is a lot to enjoy and savour within this park, and you definitely don’t want to rush it. Getting around with your own vehicle is always the top choice, but if you do not have your own wheels then catching a bus to Batchelor and either hiking or cycling around the park could be another option and great adventure. 

The only crocodiles that may live around here and found during the wet season only are fresh water crocodiles and these are harmless
The only crocodiles that may live around here and found during the wet season only are fresh water crocodiles and these are harmless
There are a number of hiking tracks, four-wheel drive tracks and bike tracks to explore here. Most notably the tracks to Florence Falls, the long track to the beautiful Surprise Creek falls, Table Top track, Tjaetaba Falls, 4WD to walking track, Wangi falls walk and the Lost City hike. All of these will take a good couple of days to see and explore and I can guarantee that all the ones that end with water will be highly rewarding. Other places to visit include Buley rockhole or Tolmer falls, which are easily accessible. As for the four-wheel drive and bike tracks, you could venture off into the bush and potentially find other random water sources and small waterfalls. I would probably say that for the nature of the geology that Buley rockhole was my favorite spot to take some time out to chill. Whilst the most exciting part of my trip would be the off road drive and then one-hour hike to Tjaetaba Falls. 

It’s quite an experience to explore and enjoy so many waterfalls and rock pools in such close vicinity
It’s quite an experience to explore and enjoy so many waterfalls and rock pools in such close vicinity
It’s quite an experience to explore and enjoy so many waterfalls and rock pools in such close vicinity. The energy found at these sites is something very unique and there is no fresher water other fresh water source in the northern territory. Most importantly the only crocodiles that may live around here and found during the wet season only are fresh water crocodiles. These are harmless to humans and will only attack if provoked; their diet includes insects and small mammals. 

. The energy found at these sites is something very unique and there is no fresher water other fresh water source in the northern territory
. The energy found at these sites is something very unique and there is no fresher water other fresh water source in the northern territory
So if you find yourself in the northern territory of Australia any time soon, I advise you not to dismiss Litchfield National Park, another place within this vast continent where you can experience the true nature of Australia. 

I advise you not to dismiss Litchfield National Park, another place within this vast continent where you can experience the true nature of Australia
I advise you not to dismiss Litchfield National Park, another place within this vast continent where you can experience the true nature of Australia
How to get there? 

Emirates offer regular flights between Malta and Darwin with a stopover in Dubai and another one in Sydney. Flights departing from Malta on 31 March and returning on 13 April were priced at €1,608, including tax, at the time of going to print. 100km from Darwin is the sleepy town of Batchelor from where you can commence your trip around the park. 

Marc Casolani is a freelance photographer and a chronic traveler. Bitten by the travel bug...