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Darwin locals are fortunate to have relatively easy access to some of my favorite national parks in Australia. In less than 90 minutes by car you can reach some of the most outstanding natural areas with magnificent landscapes.
One national park we absolutely love is Litchfield National Park. The park is famous for its waterfalls and swimming holes, hiking trails, and 4×4 trails.
Most people visit the park on a day trip from Darwin, but if you have more time to explore the park, you’re in luck because there’s a wealth of fun things to keep you entertained at Litchfield National Park.
Below are the top attractions in Litchfield National Park for any traveler…
Is Litchfield National Park worth a visit?
It’s easy to see why Litchfield attracts 260,000 visitors each year; It offers stunning tropical waterfalls and swimming holes, magnificent rainforests, giant magnetic termite mounds, an abundance of native wildlife, Native American historical sites, and plenty of hiking and 4WD trails.
There is plenty to see and do, as well as adventures off the beaten track. It’s one of the top swimming spots in Australia’s Top End, with waterfalls cascading off the cliff edge into crystal clear, safe swimming holes. And by safe I mean saltwater crocodile free!
There aren’t many places in the Northern Territory where you can safely swim without fear of crocodiles so it’s 100% worth a visit.
If you have at least a week and are exploring the upper end of the Northern Territory then I highly recommend a scenic drive from Darwin that includes Katherine Gorge, Kakadu National Park and Litchfield National Park.
Activities in Litchfield National Park
Below are some of our favorite Litchfield National Park attractions for any traveller. Whether you are traveling alone, with friends or as a family, these are some of the best things to do in Litchfield National Park…
1. Swim in the Buley Rockholes
This was my favorite part of Litchfield National Park.
It was the perfect place to visit with our kids and we recommend getting there early to escape the tour buses and have the serenity of the rock pool to yourself.
The Buley Rockholes are a series of rocks with holes through which water cascades. Go to the top and grab a selection of rock holes to sit in for a while.
Spend a few hours moving from one to the other. It’s hot enough to warrant it – even in winter.
2. Swim in the Florence Falls Plunge Pool
Florence Falls is a double cascading waterfall that leads to a popular swimming spot. There is a steep set of stairs down to the pools through a nice viewpoint, but it’s not too strenuous.
Otherwise, you can walk down to the falls from the parking lot via the Shady Creek Track. We didn’t make it, but it’s supposed to be very pretty.
And you can walk between Florence Falls and Buley Rockholes. The Litchfield Falls were just amazing to behold.
3. Have a picnic at Wangi Falls
Wangi Falls is probably Litchfield’s most popular attraction with the largest swimming hole, picnic area and cafe on site – our kids enjoyed an ice cream here on a hot day and it can get particularly busy around lunchtime in high season.
If you have young children like me, entering the waterhole is easier than Florence Falls, and it’s clear and shallow nearby. Just be aware that it gets deeper and darker the further you swim out.
Wangi Falls Campground is a great place to spend the night. There is a BBQ area and all the facilities you need for a comfortable night such as clean toilets and showers.
4. Hike to Walker Creek
If you want to experience a swim hole away from the crowds, then take the 3km walk along Walker Creek to shared swim hole number six. It was small but just lovely to have all to ourselves and so refreshing after such a hot walk with two kids.
Along the hike you will see various private campgrounds next to the creek with their own private swimming holes. Worth pitching a tent if you like bush camping. Number one was my choice.
5. Check out the magnetic termite mounds
These termite mounds are amazing. Built by thousands of termites of different species, with a north-south orientation to control the temperature inside.
These magnetic insects have designed their homes to minimize exposure to the sun. Amazing right?
The mounds are over 100 years old and between two and four meters high.
There is a boardwalk that takes you close to the mounds, the tallest and most impressive of which are the four meter high Cathedral Termite Mounds.
You’ll pass these termite mounds first as you enter the park from Darwin, we saved them for last on the way out.
6. Watch the sunset from the Tolmer Falls Observation Deck
Tolmer Falls | Credit Tourism NT/Jason Charles Hill
Tolmer Falls is one of the most famous attractions in Litchfield National Park. This huge waterfall has two large waterfalls that fall into a deep plunge pool where you can swim during the dry season.
It’s also one of the best sunset spots in Litchfield National Park. Just a short walk from the falls are two viewing platforms overlooking the falls.
There is also a 1 mile loop trail from the parking lot that takes you past Tolmer Creek, a tributary, and other rock pools (which unfortunately you can’t swim in).
7. Go four wheel drive in Blyth Homestead
Blyth Homestead | Credit: Tourism NT/Shaana McNaught
There are many 4WD routes in Litchfield National Park, but one of the most popular is the route to Blyth Homestead.
Blyth Homestead is an old mining town that has been abandoned since the 1960’s. It was built in 1928 when Litchfield was rich in tin. The area is a reminder of how difficult it is to start a business in such dry and arid conditions.
The information boards at this abandoned site provide information about the former tin mining industry.
The area is not normally accessible during the wet, tropical season from November to April due to the rain.
8. 4WD to Surprise Creek Falls
Credit: Tourism NT/Shaana McNaught
Another 4WD track to add to your Litchfield itinerary is the Surprise Creek Falls track.
It’s a level 2 track, so not too difficult to drive, but definitely worth the bumpy terrain, winding through monsoon forests and opening onto a large swimming pool at the end.
9. Learn about the park’s traditional owners at the Batchelor Museum
Litchfield National Park has been home to First Nations people for thousands of years. At the Batchelor Museum just outside the national park, you can learn about the park’s traditional owners, the Mak Mak Marranunggu, Koongurrukun, Werat and Warray people.
The museum also offers an insight into the park’s mining history, Darwin’s importance during World War II and agriculture in the region.
Best time to visit Litchfield National Park
The best time to visit Litchfield National Park is during the dry season, which runs from May to October. Then the weather is most pleasant and all roads are open.
However, if you plan to visit during the rainy season from November to April, you will have the advantage of seeing the falls in all their glory and splendor.
If you plan to visit during the rainy season, keep in mind that many of the 4WD tracks are closed at this time of year. Swimming is also not always allowed during the rainy season.
The park is open all year round, so no matter when you visit, you will experience something special.
Opening hours and entrance fees
The park is open all year round and admission is free. You only have to pay for the camping, which is usually around $8 per person per night. However, prices vary depending on where you camp.
Final advice on visiting Litchfield National Park
So these are the best attractions in Litchfield National Park and as you can see there is a lot to see and explore in its 1,500 square kilometers of incredible scenery.
Before you head out, we just have a few pieces of advice to help you get the most out of your trip. If you can, start by renting a 4×4 vehicle. While much of the park is accessible by standard vehicle, places like The Lost City and Tjaynera Falls offer an off-road adventure that’s incredibly fun and a unique experience.
Finally, make sure you schedule the visit on a weekday if possible. Litchfield is small enough to enjoy in a day or big enough to explore in a weekend, but if you can, consider visiting midweek to avoid the weekend rush.
No matter what time of year you come, be sure to pack a towel and insect repellent!
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