The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission boast that:
Our Parks and Reserves are the
Jewel in the Territory’s Crown
We could easily have missed this gem and are so grateful a gentleman at Katherine pointed us slightly west before reaching Darwin, the Northern Territory capital.
Litchfield National Park is located just 100 kilometres (62.2 miles) south west of Darwin and is a wonderland of waterways that have shaped an impressive landscape where visitors can explore walking tracks, rainforest pockets, historic sites, 4WD tracks (in the dry season), intriguing magnetic termite mounds, thundering waterfalls (in the wet season), and, of course, some of the most amazing (natural) swimming pools.
We know we’re travelling through the northern part of our country during the wet season, (and I know I’ve said it before), we are grateful this year the wet season has not been too wet. There has been a lot of rain, but much less than the normal levels that would/could close roads and, perhaps, leave us stranded waiting for water to subside.
Arriving in the little township of Batchelor, the gateway to Litchfield National Park, it was plain to see by the lush fields of green that this area had received a huge amount of rain recently. Not long after we arrived at the Batchelor Caravan Park (Location No 85), surprising the manager who’d not seen a caravan in months, the lightning flashed and the thunder rolled heralding torrential rain as the heavens opened and down it came. Finally, we thought, we’ve entered the tropical north.
We headed into Litchfield National Park the following morning, water bottles full and sandwiches cut and wrapped, ready for a big day of exploration.
Our first stop was the Magnetic Termite Mounds. No, metal objects are not attracted to them. The ‘magnetic’ termite mounds of far northern Australia are imposing and spectacular but what intrigues most is how these tall, thin mounds tend to align in a north to south direction. Termites are found on all continents, but magnetic mounds are natural wonders of the tropical Australian landscape.
Their unusual design minimising exposure to the sun, aiding in keeping the mounds cool for the termites inside.
The main view area was closed for refurbishment, but we managed to see a Cathedral Termite Mound, believed to be older than 50 years, about five metres tall (16.4 feet), and home to a colony of grass-eating Cathedral termites. The mound was most impressive and similar structures dominate the landscape as you enter the park.
Next we made our way to the Buley Rockhole and Florence Falls. Both areas suitable for swimming. Encountering (naked) swimmers at Buley Rockhole, we quickly moved on to Florence Falls, and even though we had no initial intention of going for a swim, the water was too alluring and we couldn’t resist the temptation. (But we kept our bathers on.)
As per my Photo Of the Week yesterday, we had the plunge pool to ourselves for 20 minutes or so and found our time in the water absolutely exhilarating.
As a bus load of tourists arrived, we departed and drove to the other side of the park to take another dip at The Cascades. We’d been told this was the best swimming hole, with waterfalls spilling down from one pool to the next and although the lower section was closed due to too much water, we still decided to venture to the upper cascades. The sign said 1.7 kilometres (1.05 miles), but surely that was wrong. We walked, and walked, across a rocky pathway that climbed over a ridge, down the other side where we could hear water, and yet, 40 minutes later, we still hadn’t reached the cascades. Almost giving up, with tall grasses imposing on our path, I was responsible for urging Dean on, and finally we reached a lovely area of small cascades with blessedly cool water rushing over them.
Again, we encountered nude swimmers, but they did put their clothes back on, after walking in their birthday suits from the top pool to the bottom pool (as per my photo) where their clothes were.
I’m no prude, but what’s with the nude swimming in public places?
Why is it returning always takes less time than arriving?
We said goodbye to the upper cascades and it seemed we were back to the car in half the time. But I’m not complaining. It was heating up and by the time we sat down, we both enjoyed getting off our feet. Wearing thongs while walking over rocky terrain didn’t help.
From the western side of the park, we made our way back east, stopping at Wangi Falls and Tolmer Falls, before finally returning to the comfort of our mini home.
We’d been gone for over seven hours and had travelled over 100 kilometres (62.1 miles) throughout the park. Although exhausting, we had such a wonderful day exploring Litchfield National Park and appreciate why those who live in Darwin call it their playground.