If you splashed a canvas with brilliant blue, emerald green and earthy reds, then you’d have the essence of Litchfield right there… all you’d need to do is lace up your hiking boots and jump into the canvas yourself for an adventure that only Australia’s tropical top end could provide.
Marvel at massive magnetic and cathedral termite mounds or wander through magical monsoon forests to arrive at awe-inspiring waterfalls tumbling into secret swimming holes.
This land is a masterpiece shaped to rugged perfection by water, time and Mother Nature.
Litchfield National Park Short Walks
Greenant Creek Walk
Walk along a trail decorated by the spiralling fronds of the Pandanus Palms and the tall slender Carpentaria Palms that sway gently in the breeze before emerging from the forest to marvel at the contrast as the monsoon rainforest collides with savannah woodland.
Climb up rocky steps, about 63m, to reach the Tjaetaba Falls and one of the more spectacular of the swimming spots. This 3km walk is worth the effort for the panoramic views, and simply to experience the incredible wild diversity of the landscape.
Shady Creek Walk
The half-hour, one-way walk to the secluded plunge pool at Florence Falls along Shady Creek has that real jungle feel as you walk through the monsoon forest.
This gentle hike will lead you through both forest and open woodland to just another one of the “pinch yourself spots” within the park.
Florence Creek and Falls Loop
Once you’ve reached Florence Falls plunge pool via the Shady Creek walk, you can take a loop and return to the carpark with a walk up the 160 stairs… the reward of the stunning view at the top of the waterfall is worth it.
If you’d rather finish with a cool swim, then you can reverse the loop by first heading down the stairs to the pool before taking the easy walk back to the carpark along Shady Creek.
Tolmer Creek Walk
You might not be able to swim at Tolmer Falls, but this walk, as an alternative route to the falls is one of the best to experience the surprising grandeur of Litchfield National Park.
As you start out, the strange and ancient cycad plants give you a feel for just how unique this country is. The curious-looking cycads are counter-balanced by the vibrant pink of the Turkey Bush when it is flowering, used by the local Bininj people as an insect repellent.
Breaking free of the woodlands, the walk follows the creek through a shallow valley and onto the rocky cliffs above. This is a typical Top End sandstone country, and as you reach the Tolmer Falls lookout, an awe-inspiring vista opens up, with dramatic cliffs in the foreground against an endless horizon toward the southwest.
Wangi Falls Walk
Two spectacular waterfalls crashing down past rock walls speckled with vibrant green into an idyllic pool… It’s no wonder this is a firm favourite for visitors and locals alike, with a viewing platform at the base of the falls, making this swimming hole one of the most popular.
Starting out from the carpark, a boardwalk winds through a stunning lush green forest, reminding you that this is truly the tropics. Within minutes, Wangi Falls is before you, crashing down the rock face into the pool below.
Leave the falls and shade of the monsoon forest behind, as the track winds through open savanna woodland before leading back to a lookout over the forest canopy where the buzz of insects and screeches from squabbling bats rises to greet you. Finally, stairs lead down the escarpment and to the ultimate reward of a well-earned swim.
The Tabletop Track
If you are an experienced bushwalker, then you can combine all these sparkling gems into a 5-day circuit encompassing some of the best walks in the park.
It’s a good idea to tackle this hike earlier in the Dry Season, as the falls will be flowing well and the waterholes will be fresh and full.
The Tabletop Track is not for the fainthearted, with long (hot) walks in between water sources, but the variety of landscapes en route will distract you from the heat and heavy backpack. Open woodlands, winding creek lines, sparkling waterfalls and peaceful pools nestled into shady monsoon forests dot the 39km circuit.
Including the link walks into campsites, the 50km total distance is broken into three main sections.
Palms line the trail from Wangi to Tjenya Falls, then wander through sometimes charred, open woodland to Walker Creek and a well-earned swim. Walker Creek to Florence Falls is a completely different experience with castle-shaped boulders and unusual sandstone formations, while the 20km from Florence to Wangi Falls is peppered with paperbark trees and pandanus palms.
The Tabletop Track is a perfect walk to appreciate the sublime isolation that can be had in the Top End. No power lines or people, just space and serenity.
Top 5 things to do at Litchfield National Park
1) Wangi Falls
Probably the most renowned and popular place in Litchfield. A pristine waterfall into a pool shaded by monsoon forest makes it a great place for a swim. A campground with a kiosk and great facilities makes it a great place to stay.
2) Florence Falls
With a spectacular view over the gorge, valley, the falls and down to the secluded plunge pool below, where you can cool off afterwards… What’s not to like about Florence Falls?!
3) Buley Rockhole
At a driving distance of just over an hour from Darwin, this is one of the favourite swimming spots for the locals. This series of pools carved into the ancient rock by small waterfalls is the perfect place for an all-natural spa bath.
4) Termite mounds
Monstrous 4m high Catherdral Termite mounds and the fascinating 2m Magnetic Termite mounds are unique to Northern Australia and can be up to 100 years old. The Magnetic Termite mounds are actually enormous natural magnetic compasses. The termites build them with their thin edges pointing north-south to maintain temperature and humidity within.
5) Explore The Lost City
A 4WD vehicle is a must for the track into The Lost City. As large as a small town, nature has carved what appears to be the ruins of an ancient city, with a maze of narrow alleys, into what is estimated to be over 500 million-year-old sandstone block and pillar formations.
You will find a map of the tracks – both walking and 4WD – on the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory’s website, along with all the attractions and facilities to get the best out of your visit.
- Look out for leeches!
- Observe the warning signs throughout the park… and be croc-wise!
- Always wear sun (and insect) protection, and carry plenty of water.
- To make the most of the sights, consider camping within the park.
- Bins are not provided in the park, so you’ll have to take all your rubbish with you.
- Generators are not permitted within the park.
- The weather starts to cool down in the early Dry Season, but the waterfalls will still be flowing spectacularly into May, June, and July.
- Kakadu is not the only highlight in the tropical Top End of Australia!
Whether you have a day, or a week to spare, Litchfield National Park is a little piece of hiking heaven. Find yourself in the “Lost City”, plunge into a pool or simply meander through a peaceful monsoon forest or savannah woodland… The vista is ever-changing and most definitely never boring!
Do you need a 4WD in Litchfield?
Definitely a bonus in the Wet Season, but not necessary for all areas. You will find a map of the tracks – both walking and 4WD – on the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory’s website, along with all the attractions and facilities to get the best out of your visit.
Is Litchfield National Park worth visiting?
Absolutely! Although the iconic Kakadu is not too far away, at a distance of about 115km (1.5 hrs), beautiful Litchfield is much closer to and more accessible from the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory. With plenty to see along the way from Darwin, and once there a magical maze of walking trails dotted with cascades of sparkling water tumbling into private plunge pools surrounded by monsoon forests… Some would even say they prefer Litchfield over Kakadu!!!
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