Litchfield National Park - Day Trip, Darwin
If you are in Darwin and looking at tours to Litchfield or parks nearby, DO NOT GO WITH WALLAROO TOURS.
The 'prawns and champagne' at sunset (which was rushed) gave us food poisoning and we lost the whole next day of our holiday in Darwin (nausea, vomiting, fatigue, the works).
We called the company to tell them we'd got food poisoning from them (having eaten NOTHING all day except what they gave us on the tour) and they fobbed us off saying they would return our call and discuss a refund the following morning. We never received a call, so we eventually rang then afternoon only to be told that without a doctor's certificate (which we would have needed to get the day before!) we couldn't prove it and wouldn't get a refund. As this wasn't requested, we could not prove it and the company refused to compensate for ruining an entire day of our holiday, not to mention making us both ill! So for $160, we were given a poor tour and food poisoning. Their response, aside from that we couldn't prove, was that it was 'motion sickness'. Ridiculous customer service.
Not only this but the tour guide seemed mostly uninterested all day, and diverted our route home to pick up his presumed girlfriend who we think worked at the caravan park that, surprise surprise, we were taken TWICE in the one-day tour. For no reason (though now we think we know the reason!). For hours of driving, we spent a combined 45 minutes at two swimming locations. So we saw the beauty of Litchfield itself, on a Litchfield TOUR, for less than one hour.
Go with a different company. Wallaroo were incredibly unprofessional and we won't be using them again!
The Falls and pool are iconic. Photographs of swimmers cavorting in the pool beneath the falls appear in "Visit Australia" brochures. Rather than swim, we walked up a footpath through the forest where we could see the falls in a natural state.
In addition to the Cathedral Termite Mounds, there are also ones called Magnetic Termite Mounds. Not really magnetic, their mounds look like gravestones and have a north-south orientation. In reality, the ones that survive benefit from prevailing winds that cool them. Photographers, you will not be able to walk among the mounds, so you will need to use a long lens or a zoom with reach.
Termite mounds are a highlight within Litchfield National Park. These mounds are living bodies, much like coral reefs, except that these are the detrius of termite colonies. Cathedral termites build pillars that can reach twenty feet in height. Weak trees die and are replaced by the waste of the critters that ate them.
Tip posted on both Darwin and Batchelor ‘things to do’
Our reason for staying in Batchelor was the nearby Litchfield National Park. Our brief look at the Top End included Kakadu, Katherine for the gorge and return to Darwin. It was easier staying one night in Batchelor rather than back tracking when staying in Darwin.
The entrance to the park is about 120 km from Darwin and 18 km from Batchelor.and along very well maintained roads.
The first of many attractions is the magnetic termite mounds that look like a vast collection of unloved and overgrown tomb stones as seen in wild west movies – except these are living monuments and built by white ants (termites) that have a fearsome reputation for destroying almost any timber structures – hungry little &^%$#@’s
The Litchfield fact sheet states, ‘the magnetic termite mounds are in a north-south orientation, which acts as a built-in temperature control mechanism allowing only the least possible surface area to be exposed to the heat of the sun.’ Common sense would indicate that is wrong as N-S orientation gives the greatest sun exposure to in turn the E and W sides of the mound; however I am not an entomologist and just using logic.
The Cathedral Termite Mounds (photo’s 1, 2 and 5) are far more spectacular and can be as high as 5 metres (photo 2 I’m standing in front of the same mound as per photo 1 and I am about 1.8 metres tall as a comparison)
We did see the Cathedral Termite mounds in many parts of NT and from The Ghan train as it headed south, however Litchfield was the only place we saw the Magnetic mounds – unless we inadvertently mistook what looked ‘like a vast collection of unloved and overgrown tomb stones as seen in wild west movies.’
Nature at its best, unless you happen to own a timber home - LOL
Considerably more information on the NT Govt web site as below
Tip posted on both Darwin and Batchelor ‘things to do’
The only other part of Litchfield that we explored was the Buley Rockholes and Florence Falls area and combined that with a walk through aptly named Shady Creek walk.
The rock holes were a spectacular collection of bathing areas completely safe from crocs, however not from the human morons who insisted on climbing a tree and in spite of the warning signs leaping into the pool. I was hoping that a pet croc or two might be interested in a quick snack, but then again the morons may not have been to the liking of crocs.
The Florence Falls are even more spectacular than the rock holes with a number of cascades tumbling over sheer drops to the deep and inviting pool below – and yes many were taking advantage of a cooling swim free from the normal danger of hungry crocs.
There are 137 steps that lead from the car park down to the well maintained path to the pool – and then there is a real clamber to find spots to wade in amongst the stones and boulders. I attempted a fully clothed balancing act to get a clear photo shot of the pool and I am far from being a circus performer, so what is shown is as best as I was able to manage (there were peels of laughter from the ‘younger ones’ as I showed off my complete lack of skills when it comes to slippery rock hopping).
Lady Gaw is well known for being a wimp when it comes to death defying climbs up perfectly safe but see through type metal stairs. She managed to convince me that the Shady Creek walk was a better way of returning to the car park. I’m glad she did as it was a great little walk of about 1 km through a shady walkway that crossed many times a brook that led to the river. Sadly nature called her while we were surrounded by nature (why can’t girls just ‘go’ behind a tree?) and so we had to return quicker than I’d hoped.
Sadly, and after our all too brief experience with Litchfield, it was time to hit the road for the 1.5 hour trip to Darwin and civilization and we missed out on many of the features in the park. Another regret was the rental car company took a dim view to their rental vehicles being used on dirt roads, so we had to partly retrace our journey through Batchelor rather than via the Cox Peninsula Road and 30 km unsealed road.
Considerably more information on the NT Govt web site as below
Located just over 100 kilometers south of Darwin and an easy days drive there and back with good blacktop roads all the way..a visit to this wonderful National Park is a great day out..over1500 square kilometers in area the parks main attractions are the many beautiful waterfalls, Make sure that you have time to visit the wonderful "Florence falls" This being one of many waterfalls in the park.The falls are quite a hike from the carpark area but information maps show you the way..This is a wonderful swimming area at the base of the falls and really quite beautiful in its location.I found it to be so cooling after the heat of the walk. There are also many wonderful swimming holes(most free of crocodiles)to be found in the park , The huge ant hills are a sight to behold some standing over four meters high there is just so much great all round scenery to be enjoyed...alive with birdlife and native animals make sure that your camera batteries are charged as this is a photographers dream. Also make sure that you bring your swimming togs and a towel as there are just so many great swimming spots..There are great campgrounds here and hiking tracks
Make sure that you have PLENTY of water with you at all times...
ALWAYS: take notice of signs near swimming areas as crocodiles get into some areas in the wet season
Be aware of your surrounding so as not to hurt yourself as some parts of this park are very isolated.
Carry your mobile phone and be aware of emergency numbers
Always use public toilets when in service areas. Better than being bitten on the bum by a snake!!!
About 100 Km out of Darwin, Litchfield National park is a must see for a relaxing picnic, a dip in the pools below the falls, and some relaxing. Very beautiful, the natural waterfalls offer the perfect opportunity to cool off (especially after rediculously long motorbike rides down no speed limit freeways - see my travelogues) from the heat of the Northern territory. Take someone special, relax and just enjoy the coolness of the trees, the water, and watch as kids dive from the rocks - embarrassing me cause I couldnt do it, and yet these kids can and are so much younger than me!!!
Contact Tel No. Below is for Darwin Regional Parks and Wildlife Services. They can no doubt give you any info you need.
The Litchfield National Park is a must see if you're visiting the Northern Territory. Its still pretty pristine and there are limited facilities whilst camping but the scenery makes it worthwhile.
Don't forget to see and swim at Florence Falls and Blueys Rockhole. The Lost City is a real surprise and make me ponder how nature can provide so many diverse scenes for us to experience.
As part of the tour I organised one day was a visit to Litchfield National Park. Along the way we did a detour to the Jumping Crocodile Cruise. We had a choice of going to this (and spending some extra money for entry) or going to the wetlands close by. As I have seen crocodiles up close and personal before (Broome, Derby, Fitzroy Crossing) I chose not to take the cruise. I have to say that the wetlands was not so wet in fact a bit disapointing not much to see at all. Litchfield National Park involved some walking from the carpark and then gingerly wading into the waterholes which generally are pretty rocky such as Florence Falls. Wangi Falls was fairly crowded when we were there..lots of campers and picnickers.
Litchfield National Park is less than two hours from Darwin and has a number of spectacular waterfalls and crystal clear swimming pools. There are also a number of walks which you can do.
Florence Falls - Bit of a walk down to the main pools but one of the best swimming spots.
Buley Rockhole - Great to sit and relax in the shallow pools.
Wangi Falls - Easiest to access the swimming area but as such is normally the most crowded. There is also a cafe at Wangi Falls so you might want to time this for lunch.
Tolmer Falls - No swimming due to a rare bat species, but still a great view.
Magnetic termite mounds - Chance to get a photo next to one of these.
I would suggest a visit to the Florence Falls for a swim as you enter the park from Darwin, then onto Tolmer Falls and then Wangi Falls for another swim and lunch before finishing the day at the Buley Rockhole for another swim.
To the left of Wangi Falls (walk down to within 50 metres of the falls) is a walking trail that goes up and around the top of the falls. Offering some views of the valley but little of the top of the falls this is an enjoyable short walk with some nice rainforest and escarpment sections.
Length: 2 km
Difficulty: easy with a few step sections.
Recommend going to Katherine Gorge, Cutta Cutta Caves, Litchfield National Park.
Katherine Gorge was great, travelling on the river in the gorge by boat spying crocodiles was certainly an experience I won't forget soon.
Cutta Cutta Caves was very good for tourists - well guided tour, stable path. Geared toward the first time cave visitor, not the experienced spelunker.
Litchfield National Park - termite mounds, walking down the creek, seeing the falls and climbing to the top were well worth the price of the tour.
A little more than 100 kilometers from Darwin, Litchfield National Park is a smaller, more easily accessible mimic of Kakadu National Park. Litchfield lacks Kakadu’s Aboriginal culture and wildlife, and its gorges are nothing next to Jim Jim and Twin Falls. But a day here hiking around the waterfalls and swimming in the various waterholes is most enjoyable, particularly if you have been roughing it in the Outback for several days beforehand. In a day it is possible to see most Litchfield’s highlights, including its termite mounds, Buley Rock Hole, and Wangi, Tolmer, and Florence Falls.
Just off the Litchfield Park Road in the northern area of Litchfield Park you will see fascinating termite mounds that stand well over 2m high.
They are all aligned north to south which apparently keeps the inside of the mound from getting too over heated by the hot tropical sun which tracks east to west.