In early 2018 I took a week trip to Darwin to catch up with some friends and do some site seeing. Normally when I go to Darwin I’m going for work so site seeing time is limited, but this time I got to explore the Litchfield National Park. Saying that this is the perfect place for waterfalls lovers is like saying sky diving is the perfect activity for adrenaline junkies. There are so many!
Litchfield National Park covers 1500sq km and features a number of waterfalls where you can swim, as well as a range of bushwalking tracks, camp grounds and other geographical features including the Lost City and termite mounds. It’s an incredibly scenic area and holds significant cultural and spiritual value a number of Indigenous groups.
We left mid-morning, around 10am, equipped with snacks, a picnic lunch and pool noodles. To get to the park you have to go through Bachelor where you will find this cool, but completely random, miniature European castle. Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself.
I have no idea why the castle was there or who built it, but it made for a fun pit stop. Here’s the route we took, which is roughly a 2.5 hour drive non-stop. You could start at Wangi Falls and end at Buley Rock Hole just for convenience, but I was pretty keen for a swim early on so we just got started.
The first waterfalls we stopped at were at Buley Rock Hole, which is a series of cascading waterfalls that provide the mini pools – almost enough so that everyone can have one per group. A couple of days prior to when we went there had been some rain, so there was a lot of water, more than my friend had seen in there previously, which made the current quite strong. Despite this, our pool noodles were not needed. Buley Rock Hole fills up quite quickly because it is the closest to Darwin, so if you want to beat the crowds you need to get their quickly.
The next stop on our waterfall chasing adventure was Florence Falls. I’m just going to say it: Florence Falls was my favourite. When we went it was relatively uncrowded, and it is just so pretty. The river splits in two before it hits the cliff face, so it makes it look like there are two waterfalls for the price of one. To get to the waterfalls you have to make a short walk consisting of 150 stairs, but it’s all worth it before you even get to the waterfalls, as the view from the lookout is pretty majestic.
One of my favourite things about Florence Falls was that the water is really clear, and if you look below the surface you can see medium to large fish swimming far below. The pool at the base of the waterfall is relatively calm, but very deep, so if you aren’t a confident swimmer make sure you take a floatie with you. I can swim relatively well, but I enjoyed just floating around on my pool noodle.
The next waterfall that we visited was a no-swim waterfall. I’m not entirely sure if this is because there is a genuine risk of crocodile encounters, or if it’s just because the waterfall is rather isolated and difficult to get to. Tolmer Falls is a really tall waterfall, and the lookout provides some really great views.
Needless to say, we didn’t stay at Tolmer Falls for very long before we headed off to Wangi Falls, out last waterfall stop of the day. Wangi Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in the whole park and it’s easy to see why. Its wheelchair accessible, is made up of two waterfalls, similar to Florence Falls, and is surrounded by beautiful tropical swamp lands. This site is also set up really well for picnics with its own kiosk. Unfortunately when we went the swimming in the pools was closed due to strong and potentially dangerous currents as a result of the earlier rain. We walked around the waterfalls to the lookout which was gorgeous. From the lookout it was also really easy to see why they’d closed the park off to swimming that day. The water was raging.
On the way back home we made a couple of extra stops to see the Tabletop Swamp and the magnetic termite mounds, but it honestly wasn’t anything to get too excited about.
This saw the end of our waterfall chasing expedition, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Whenever I visit the Darwin area and get a chance to play tourist and go exploring I’m always struck by the beauty of the area. It’s just so inviting.
Litchfield National Park is located about 120km south-east of Darwin. You do not need a 4WD to access most of the visitor areas in this park, but there are some 4WD tracks if you are up for more of an adventure. Please don’t attempt to follow these tracks in anything less than a 4WD or without taking enough food and water just in case something happens. The other thing you need to know before visiting the park is that you must check to see if it is open to the public. The park can be closed for a variety of reasons including wet season or if a crocodile is spotted in one of the swimmable waterways. To check if the park is open, visit the NT Parks site here.
What waterfalls have you chased? Which was your favourite? Tell me below!