Idealic northern coastal settings

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Monday, 16 Jul 2007

Litchfield National Park - swim in the Dry and marvel at the Wet

Litchfield National Park - swim in the Dry  and marvel at the Wet
Litchfield National Park
- swim in the Dry and marvel
at the Wet

Near Batchelor, about two hours south-west of Darwin, and 268km from Katherine the 1500 square kilometre Litchfield National Park is generally accessible all year (sealed roads) via Batchelor. Originally it was the home of the Aboriginal Wagait people.

Batchelor, 13 km from Litchfield National Park, is the gateway to the park which is just off the Stuart Highway (Explorers Way). With a population of about 358, Batchelor is a good base from which to explore Litchfield.

There is also accommodation available at nearby Adelaide River or Lake Bennet Resort. Also, about 40 minutes from Darwin, Tumbling Waters Holiday Park owned by Jenny  and Darren Campbell  is in the area too at Berry Springs. 

It is an ideal base from which to explore sights in the region like:

Territory Wildlife Park - 5 minutes. Litchfield National Park - 1 hr Berry Springs Thermal Pools - 5 minutes. Exotic Fruit Tours - 7 km Majestic Orchid Tours - 5 minutes. Darwin River Dam Spillway - 7 km Mandorah Beach 45 minutes. Dundee Beach 1.5 hrs. Darwin Crocodile Farm - 20 minutes.

Aircon too at Tumbling Waters Holiday Park Berry Springs NT
Aircon too at Tumbling Waters Holiday Park Berry Springs NT

Lonely Planet Travel describes it as "One of the nicest Parks in the Top End".

We like it too, but add "quirky" to our appreciation for its freshwater crocodile enclosure, 'imported' magnetic termite mounds, novel bar, barbecue areas and cabins and the true warm NT nature of the welcome when we blew in to its 100 acres of palms and tropic gardens.

Tumbling Waters impresses GoSee with its shady powered caravan and motorhome sites which are amongst  tropical gardens.

Tourism became Batchelors key industry when Litchfield was declared a National Park in 1986. The town is also home to a residential tertiary college, catering specifically to Aboriginal students.

While in Batchelor, drop into the Coomalie Cultural Centre. The centre conducts artists residencies, exhibitions and cultural projects and operates a retail outlet of art and craft. A bush tucker garden and a mural surround the centre.

In the 1950s a prospector named Jack White discovered uranium deposits at nearby Rum Jungle. The town grew as mining began in 1951. The mine was closed in 1963 with the treatment plant closing down in 1971.

Rum Jungle Lake turn-off on route to Litchfield
Rum Jungle Lake turn-off on route to Litchfield

Legend has it that Rum Jungle earned its name after a an incident in 1871 when a bullock-wagon loaded with rum became bogged near jungle in the East Finniss River area and the bullockies settled in for one of the most notorious binges in Northern Territory history.

The Lakes Resort Caravan Park in Berry Springs is set on 960 acres of peaceful rural property at Berry Springs . It  is close to Darwin (56kms), the City of Palmerston (30kms) and is central to the whole range of Outer Darwin attractions. The Territory Wildlife Park and the swimming holes of Berry Springs Nature Park are within walking distance. Litchfield Park (60kms) and many other Top End attractions are  handy to the The Lakes.

There are grassed shady camping and caravan areas, drive in - drive out caravan sites as well as comfortable air-conditioned cabins. Lakes  is a resort style caravan park with a large fully-tiled ablution block, free electric barbecues in the camp kitchen, a laundry area, licensed bistro as well as a public telephone and internet access.  Small dogs on leads are welcome too.

In the area - Berry Springs Nature Park - 1.5kms.
Territory Wildlife Park - 2kms.
Southport Siding Exotic Fruit Farm - 5kms.
Majestic Orchid Farm - 12kms.
Crocodile Farm - 18kms.
Windows on the Wetlands - 55kms.
Adelaide River Cruises - 56kms .
Litchfield National Park - 60kms.
Mandorah - 72kms.
Dundee Beach - 95kms.

Litchfield National Park is spectacular at any time, although most 4WD tracks are closed during the Wet season. Some swimming areas such as Wangi Falls, become unsafe after heavy rain. Swimming "season" is usually from May to October. Then thundering monsoon waterfalls driven by the Storm Season become the attraction. Kiosk and picnic facilities remain open.

The region has a colourful pioneering and pastoral history and places like the ruins of Blyth Homestead, built in 1929 but abandoned in the 1960s, are a reminder of the tough conditions faced by pioneers.

Litchfield National Park protects extensive examples of Top End habitats. The Tabletop Range, a spectacular sandstone plateau from which four waterfalls tumble into the lowlands, dominates Litchfield National Park, about two-hours drive from Darwin. There are rainforest walks, beautiful waterfalls and cool, crocodile-free waterholes for swimming which attract local families.

Termites build east west for best cooling
Termites build east west for best cooling

The area has intriguing magnetic termite mounds, historical sites, and the weathered sandstone pillars of the Lost City. The Lost City is an area of unusual sandstone pillars and block formations that have been sculpted by wind and rain over thousands of years. A four-wheel drive vehicle is needed to get there and back.

The spectacular Tolmer Falls cascade over two sandstone escarpments into a distant pool. Rare ghost bats and orange horseshoe bats live in caves at the base.

There are walking tracks and viewing platforms, including a lookout with wheelchair access.

Wangi Falls are Litchfield’s biggest falls, located on the park’s western edge, where visitors can swim and snorkel in a large plunge pool in the rainforest. An interpretive nature trail leads from the camping and barbecue area to the top of the falls.

Cool three, Buley Rockhole, Litchfield, NP
Cool three, Buley Rockhole, Litchfield, NP

Buley Rockhole Lower Pools is one of the cleanest natural 'spas' we have swum in. The freshwater comes from springs upstream and is replenished every Wet season. Then the water flows to Florence Falls where we enjoyed it again.

Wet season floods cause whirlpools in the rock pools and as they toss small rocks around over thousands of years the rocks in the pool get smaller and rounder and the pools get smoother and rounder.

The Parks and Wildlife Service NT  says Buley Rockhole frogs can skip across the top of the water in quick bounces. They are about the size of a five cent piece and they are the only Australian frog with the water top skip trick.

The Florence Creek walk is an easy 3.2km. The Rockhole Loop is an easy 900m.

Caravan camping is restricted to Wangi Falls and no powered sites are provided.

Wangi  Falls Pool, Litchfield
Wangi Falls Pool, Litchfield

Camping is available at Wangi Falls, Buley Rockhole and Florence Falls. 4WD camping areas (dry season only) at Tjaynera Falls (Sandy Creek), Surprise Creek Falls and downstream from Florence Falls.

Walk-in camping sites are available along Walker Creek (dry season only).

Most campgrounds are managed by 'Campground Services'. The Parks and Wildlife Service of Northern Territory says camping fees apply.

They reflect the standard of facilities. 

Category A, with a high site maintenance has an overnight fees  Category D is commercially managed. Category A fees are a guide except at Nitmiluk which has higher level services. There is  more  information on (Or a 'Park Fees' brochure is available).

The Parks and Wildlife Service NT is a division of the NT Dept of Natural Resources, Environment, and the Arts. The Service manages over 90 parks and reserves for conservation and nature based recreation and tourism.

Florence Falls cascades
Florence Falls cascades

The Park and Reserve system encompasses over 45,000 square kilometres, from the arid Centre to the tropical Top End, about 3.5 percent of the Territory’s land mass. Thirty-two of the over 90 parks a parks and reserves are managed in partnership with Aboriginal people.

The Service is not responsible for Kakadu National Park or Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Parks which are managed by the Commonwealth Government authority, Parks Australia, Dept Environment and Heritage).

Accommodation and camping are available outside the Park at several commercial sites. There are many pleasant spots to swim throughout the Park.

Popular spots include Wangi, Florence, Tjaynera Falls and Buley Rockhole.

There is NO SWIMMING in the Reynolds River.

Litchfield landscape, NT
Litchfield landscape, NT

Beautiful quiet walks leave from most popular sites. Signs in the carparks and along the tracks will show you the way. 

The walks vary between short strolls and walks of 1 km to 3 km. If an extended walk is planned get a permit before your visit from the Parks and Wildlife Office in Batchelor.

Common wildlife species include the Antilopine Wallaroo, Agile Wallaby, Sugar Glider, Northern Brushtail Possum, Fawn Antechinun, Black and Little Red Flying Foxes and the Dingo.

The caves near Tolmer Falls are home to a colony of the rare Orange Horseshoe Bat.

Litchfield is a haven for hundreds of native bird species.

Black kites and other birds of prey are common during the Dry Season. The Yellow Oriole, Figbird, Koel, Spangled Drongo, Dollarbird and the Rainbow Bee-eater inhabit the sheltered areas close to waterfalls. As we were mounted in a reliable hired 4WD we left on the Litchfield Park Rd. It is good dirt but can surprise with eroded sections and washaways. We followed the Luitchfield Park Road to the junction with Cox Peninsula Road and then turned right to  Berry Springs and Tumbling Waters Holiday Park.

Wangi Falls. Croc signs
Wangi Falls. Croc signs

Here are some guidelines from the The Parks and Wildlife Service NT to get the best from Litchfield -

Observe park safety signs.

Note locations of Emergency Call Devices.

Swim only where recommended, observe warning signs.

Carry and drink plenty of water.

Wear a shady hat, insect repellent and sunscreen.

Avoid sitting on bare ground to protect against tropical disease (further


Wear suitable clothing and footwear.

Carry a first aid kit.

Avoid strenuous activity during the heat of the day.

Ensure your vehicle is well maintained and equipped.

Beware of theft, lock vehicles and secure valuables.

Please Put your rubbish in the bin or take it away with you.

Keep to designated roads and tracks.

All cultural items and wildlife are protected.

Pets are not permitted.

Nets, traps and firearms are not permitted.

Take care with fire, light fires only in fireplaces provided. Camp stoves preferred at Walker Creek.

Avoid using soaps and detergent in or near waterways.

Camp only in designated camping areas.

Collect firewood (fallen timber only) before arriving at your picnic or campsite.

Generators are not permitted in this Park.

Observe all fishing regulations.

Check that your vehicle is not transporting pests like weeds and Cane Toads.
  • Please note rates and facilties reported  in GoSee features can change always check before booking.

Editor's Note: Also See -

Window on Northern Territory wetlands reveals rare, threatened land system

Try Munupi fishing, Tiwi Islands NT style and...

Tiwi art draws creation from the Melville Island land itself

GoSeeAustralias Great Drives of Australia 'Once around The Block please'

Shiver me timbers Ross, Jo and Bill and Carol dream of shorts weather as they caravan towards NT Top End

At Yulara via Outback Australia Ross, Jo, Carol and Bill walk around Uluru and head for Kata Tjuta

Glenda raises Wet Season the Big tropic topic

Be croc wise in Northern Australia

For more information
contact: Garth Morrison
Editor Go See Australia and Go See New Zealand Directory

Anyone for a swim freshwater croc Tumbling Waters NT
Anyone for a swim freshwater croc Tumbling Waters NT

Buley Rock Holes, Litchfield
Buley Rock Holes, Litchfield

Cool pool Florence Falls, Litchfield, NT
Cool pool Florence Falls, Litchfield, NT

Florence Falls Creek
Florence Falls Creek

Florence Falls from the Litchfield lookout
Florence Falls from the Litchfield lookout

Freshwater croc finds a little shade
Freshwater croc finds a little shade

GoSeeAustralia meets termite city mound
GoSeeAustralia meets termite city mound

Litchfield bound on good  bitumen
Litchfield bound on good bitumen

Palms by the thousands Tumbling Waters Holiday Park NT
Palms by the thousands Tumbling Waters Holiday Park NT

Pleasant setting for a swim Tumbling Waters Holiday park NT
Pleasant setting for a swim Tumbling Waters Holiday park NT

Termite Mounds near Walker Creek
Termite Mounds near Walker Creek

Relaxed Tumbling Waters cabins
Relaxed Tumbling Waters cabins

Water crossing, Walker Creek  NT
Water crossing, Walker Creek NT

Shady walk, Tumbling Waters, NT
Shady walk, Tumbling Waters, NT

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