Darwin is home to a number of National Parks, including the Kakadu National Park, the Mary River National Park and the Litchfield National Park.
Litchfield National Park Tour
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Today, we embarked on our trip to our first National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia – the Litchfield National Park.
En-route to Litchfield National Park
The day promised to be a long one as we were picked up at 7:15 am from Hilton Darwin on what would be an 11-hr tour with AAT Kings.
It was a 2-hr ride down the Stuart Highway before we could reach our first destination – the Town of Batchelor, where we were to take our morning tea break at our own expense at the Banyan Tree Caravan Park.
Litchfield National Park
Litchfield National Park, which occupies a land area of approximately 1500 square kilometres, is near to the town of Batchelor. It is one of the most iconic tourist attractions of the Northern Territory, attracting more than a quarter of a million visitors annually. The National Park is home to a number of waterfalls, of which we were going to visit 3 today.
At Litchfield National Park, the first attraction on our list for the day were the Termite Mounds.
The termite mounds at Litchfield National Park are the artwork of the local termites. Depending on the species of the termites – Magnetic or Cathedral termites, the mould that they build can look very different from the outside. Inside the mould, the structure can be very complicated with an extensive network of tunnels and chambers as well as shafts for their ventilation system.
This huge one here is a Cathedral termite mould, towering over me at more than 5 metres tall, and likely much older than me at 50 years old.
On closer inspection, you will likely find the termites leaving or entering their system, an indication that a living nest still resides in this mound.
A few other Cathedral mounds in the vicinity.
In the far distance, the magnetic termites makes their presence felt with their magnetic mounds – structures of smooth surface that looked more than tall tombstones of a graveyard.
Florence Falls is a two-tiered waterfall that plunges into a gorgeous plunge pool, perfect for swimming and cooling off in the hot tropical climate of Darwin.
There are also two walking trails here at the Florence Falls, both of moderate intensity.
As the tour allowed us sufficient time for a swim and hike, we find we have plenty of time to explore the area at our own leisure. Remember to bring your towels and swimming gear for that swim if you want to!
The plunge pool at Florence Falls is located in a shady corner and has such cooling water, we find it so tempting to have a dip as well. Its a little inconvenient to change in public though, so we dropped the idea, as we reckoned that we still have a chance at Wangi Falls after lunch.
We took one of the trails and hiked up to this vantage point where we could see the Florence Falls and its plunge pool in its totality.
There are actually rangers patrolling in this area, calling out warnings to dare-devils like these people who wants to challenge the force of nature by taking a un-harnessed plunge from the upper platform of the falls. That’s dangerous not only to him, but to those unsuspecting people swimming below in the pool.
The vegetation that surrounds the Florence Falls is savannah woodland, which makes for a peaceful and quiet walk.
Lunch @ Litchfield Cafe
We spent almost 2 hrs at the Florence Falls, after which was lunch at Litchfield Cafe (covered in the price of the tour). Although it was a buffet lunch, everything here was pretty basic.
We reached Wangi Falls soon after lunch.
And while Wangi Falls looks to have a larger plunge pool than Florence Falls, there was this particular type of danger here.
Yes, crocodiles! Although the signboards say that the risk level was low at this time of the year, we never could have the courage to subject ourselves to any risks, especially after watching and hearing a pan of crocodiles chomp down their food at the Crocosaurus Cove. And unlike the Cage of Death, we won’t be having a protective glass cage around us when a crocodile do approach.
Safety checks are constantly carried at Wangi Falls, and according to the park management, the risks are always higher when there is significant rainfall, resulting in flooding and that’s when the crocs can start to move in and terrorise the area. When that happens, the plunge pool will be closed for the safety of the visitors, so if you can make do with a low risk during the non-rainy season, that will be about the only time that you can experience Wangi Falls.
For us, we were happy to just watch others play in the pool.
Everything near the Wangi Falls was near, and if you like, there’s a light walking trail around the plunge pool that gives you access to different viewing angles.
According to our itinerary, we were supposed to visit three waterfalls – other than the Florence Falls and Wangi Falls, the third waterfall of the day was Tolmer Falls. As we understand from our guide, the plunge pool at Tolmer Falls wasn’t accessible and a trip to it would only entail looking at the falls from a distance. He therefore suggested not making the trip to the Tolmer Falls, but he would show us some native vegetation instead which we agreed to.
This was a full day trip but the pacing was slow and we could truly take our time to rest and relax in the natural scenery of Darwin. If you adore swimming, then this trip is definitely for you because seldom in anywhere else would you get to swim in a plunge pool.
Below are a few tours that we recommend considering for a trip to Litchfield.
Join us next as we embark on a day trip to Katherine Gorge and Edith Falls.