Litchfield National Park is located in the Northern Territory and is absolutely worth seeing. Unlike the famous Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park is less busy. The biggest advantages: The park is free and it’s safe to go swimming in a few places. In addition, you get to see stunning lakes, creeks, waterfalls, hiking trails and all sorts of animals.
Litchfield National Park: History
The national park is situated only 114 kilometers southwest of Darwin and was inhabited 60,000 years ago by the Mak Mak Marranunggu, the Wasat, and the Waray Aborigines. In 1864, the area was discovered by Frederick “Fred” Henry Litchfield, who was on a mission to explore the Adelaide River. At that time, the British wanted to build forts up north, as they feared the arrival of French and Dutch settlers. They discovered they could also make different use of the area: agriculture and livestock.
The Aborigines were quickly expelled from their land and relocated to Christian reservations and missions. Often, they had to work as livestock farmers or slaves on the farms. A group of westerners settled in Litchfield. However, they had problems with the humid climate.
In 1870, tin and copper were discovered. As a result, the settlers exploited the soils of the area. This was going on until the 1940s. In 1949, uranium was discovered. Uranium mining boomed for a while between 1953 and 1971, but stopped due to bankruptcy. For the following 15 years, Litchfield remained silent until the area was declared a national park in 1986.
Source: Australian Geographic, www.nt.gov.au, Lonely Planet, and Wikipedia.
A visit to Litchfield National Park
With its 1,500 square kilometres, the park extends over a huge plateau of sandstone and cliffs, known as the Tabletop Range. The spectacular cliffs, the great waterfalls, and the beautiful natural pools, which invite you to swim, make this area so very special. In the dry season, you can safely go swimming, because then there are no crocodiles in the pools.
There are only two roads leading to the park. The first one leads from the Stuart Highway to the south. The road is paved and easy to drive – except when you bump into a lost buffalo. A second road heads north from the Cox Peninsula Road, which is closed during the wet season. It’s best to take this road in a 4WD.
Litchtfield National Park: Flora and fauna
Thanks to the tropical climate, Litchfield National Park has an incredible flora and fauna. There are wild forests, flowers, and swamps, which make a typical Australian bush during the dry season. Gorges and breathtaking waterfalls surround the area. Another special feature: The huge termite mounds that sprout everywhere from the ground so that you certainly won’t miss them.
There are countless animals in Litchfield National Park. We start with the cute ones: wallabies, geckos, kangaroos, possums, green frogs, and fruit bats – and the less cute ones: wild boars, buffaloes, crocodiles, toads, and snakes.
If you are afraid of spiders, you should beware. Some of Australia’s biggest spiders live in that park. For example, the Nephila spider and the well-known Huntsman spider, which only cause fear because of their size. For us humans, they are harmless.
Unfortunately, there are some pests that we can’t escape from: countless green ants (yes, green!) and mosquitoes! Therefore, insect repellent is a necessity.
The most beautiful places
The most beautiful termite mound
The RDV Magnetic Termite Mound is one of the most beautiful termite mounds in the country. It is 17 kilometres past the park entrance on South Batchelor Road.
The most beautiful swimming spots
- Florence Falls
- Tolmer Falls
- Buley Rockhole
However, these swimming pools are also among the most popular places in the park. To escape the crowds, get up early and avoid the weekends.
Alternatively, you can visit Greenant Creek. The return trip takes an hour, but you will be rewarded with an incredible view.
Don’t miss the “Lost City” – only if you are traveling in a 4WD though.
Things to do in Litchfield National Park
Best of all, go swimming in some of the many natural pools!
Spend the night in your van or in a tent. We recommend staying at the Wangi Falls, the Buley Rockhole, and the Florence Falls. You have to pay to stay there though. If you rather don’t want to spend anything, you can walk through the bush to Walker Creek. However, there are no showers, no running water and only pit toilets.
Speaking of Wangi Falls: It’s a nice place to eat, have a coffee, buy souvenirs, and visit the Aboriginal Art Shop. There is also a telephone. The people who work here are very helpful and happy to provide information about the area.
If you’ve got the cash, you can admire the park from the air in a helicopter. From there you obviously get breathtaking views of the falls. These helicopter flights start at Litchfield Cave – 4 kilometres from the Wangi Falls.
If you like it active: There is a hike through the bush. The so-called “Tabletop Track” is a 39-kilometer circuit that connects the Wangi Falls, Greenant Creek, Florence Falls, and Walker Creek. What you need: good physical condition, lots of water, good shoes, and sunscreen. We recommend walking from the Wangi Falls to the Florence Falls. This stretch is very beautiful and you can refresh yourself in the pool of the Florence Falls in the end.
Admission is free
Best weather conditions: From April to September. Avoid the wet season (from November to February). There may be flooding and road closures during this time.
There are paid campsites in the national park: Wangi Falls, Buley Rockhole, and Florence Falls
You can compare prices for campervans on Motorhome Republic
Avoid the weekends, as it can get pretty crowded there, especially at the swimming pools. Get up early, walk in the morning, and go for a swim in one of the pools in the afternoon. Mosquito spray and sunscreen should definitely be in your backpack.