Covering approximately 1500sq km, Litchfield National Park in the Northern Territory's Top End is a tourer’s delight. Just a 90-minute short drive from Darwin on a sealed road, Litchfield is regarded as one of NT’s best kept secrets and is perfect for a day trip if you're basing yourself out of the NT capital. The best time to visit the park is during the dry season (May to October) as some roads can close in the wet season (November to April) and most swimming spots are open. We also must mention that if you’re not a NT resident, a NT parks pass is required to enter the park, which can only be purchased online.
Although not required, a 4WD will allow you to access all routes within the park, including the road to the Lost City rock formations which is one of the best places in the park.
While the sign at the southern entrance to Litchfield National Park, just off the Daly River Rd from Hayes Creek, is quite clear about excluding caravans, if you have a camper trailer and plenty of experience towing it, it’s possible to get through. The park does present several creek crossings which may be challenging for some.
The first creek crossing is less than half an hour’s drive into Litchfield. Late in the dry season, it won’t be deep, but the sandy bottom is soft. The creek splits into several channels, separated by steep sandy banks with trees growing out of them. Getting over these crossings presents some obstacles and some places have very tight clearance, so practicing caution at all times is advised.
There’s usually no need to do any radiator protection for water only thigh-deep, but progress is a lot easier if you drop tyre pressures on vehicles and trailers, to give better floatation through the soft stuff. There are several more crossings that are usually longer and deeper, with firm sandy and stony bottoms. The deepest you will encounter is the Reynolds, where you’re likely to have water over the door sills.
Once clear of the major creek crossings, the track leads through open woodland, studded with two different types of termite mounds. The Lost City sandstone formations in Litchfield is a popular spot — for good reason — but this does mean the road conditions into this location are rutted and corrugated most of the way. It's a great place to
Things to do
There are various stunning waterfalls and swimming holes throughout the park (with top favourites being Florence Falls, Wangi Falls, Buley Rockhole). However, crocodiles are an ever-present danger in NT waters, so you should only swim in those areas designated as ‘croc-safe’. Fortunately, there are several safe and delightful swimming areas, including at Wangi Falls. Many of the falls feature a picnic area, creating the perfect place to enjoy lunch after a refreshing swim. Please note that swimming at Tolmer Falls is not allowed.
Litchfield is famous for its termite mounds, of which there are two types. The bulkier, more familiar style is known as a cathedral mound and has distinct mouldings, but so-called ‘magnetic termite mounds’ are quite different. Like the cathedral mounds, these hills have internal arches, tunnels, chimneys, insulation and nursery chambers, but all these are contained within blade-like structures that are quite thin in sections and almost flat on both sides. They’re called magnetic because they’re aligned north-south to minimise exposure to the sun during the hottest time of the day.
The Lost City sandstone rock formations are located in a remote and hard-to-access area of Litchfield. But once in, an easy stroll allows you to see what thousands of years of wind and rain erosion can do, creating what looks like the ruins of a city with a maze of narrow alleys.
One of the highlights in Litchfield is the well-preserved and presented Blyth Homestead, which was built as an outstation approximately 40 kilometres from the main house on Stapleton Station. It was located near a tin mine, which was worked by the owner’s kids! North of Wangi Falls is the old Bamboo Creek Tin Mine and it’s possible to wander among the ruins and inspect some of the original machinery.
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