When hearing the word Litchfield, many immediately think of the women’s prison in Orange Is The New Black. Despite there being no trace of Ruby Rose in this national park in the northern territory of Australia, the cascading waterfalls and sparkling plunge pools ensure that there is no question of where I’d rather spend the day.
In the hot, humid and wet climate of the northern territory where crocodiles lurk in both fresh and salt water areas, lies an area of almost 1,500km² called Litchfield National Park. Known for its waterfalls and fresh water lagoons or plunge pools, this could very well be the most valuable gem of the Northern Territory’s mainstream National Parks. The key attraction is the fact that you could swim in most areas, as they are free from salt and fresh water crocodiles. To add to that luxury, these are some of the finest looking waterfalls, plunge pools, lagoons and rock pools that you can find for thousands of kilometres.
The Northern Territory is known to be one of the more volatile regions in Australia. The climate is extreme with two distinct seasons; the first is wet and humid where cyclones are common (October to April), and the latter is a dry season (May to September), comprising of warm and beautiful days with night temperatures close to 0°C, typical of a desert region.
One major factor contributing to the success of the Litchfield National Park is that a good part of it is accessed by tarmacked roads, giving the less adventurous traveller an easy route to some of the most incredible landscapes. Don’t get me wrong though, there are still enough off-road and dirt tracks to get your heart pumping. Just make sure you have a four-wheel drive or some form of off-road vehicle to explore these areas as very few dirt tracks are accessible by two-wheel drive cars.
Litchfield National Park is home to a number of stunning sights. As previously noted, the waterfalls that cascade into crystal clear pools make an idyllic backdrop for a swim. The iconic magnetic termite mounds are worth a visit. Here termites build mounds as high as three metres, they are relatively flat and are mysteriously all aligned according to the earth’s magnetic field. Take a step back and they would look like tombstones, just much larger. The weathered sandstone pillars of the Lost City are also worth a visit but are at the end of a very rocky 10km track accessible only by a four-wheel drive. The shady monsoon forest in the gorges was created thousands of years ago and it is now a haven for hundreds of native bird species and the plateau supports a rich range of woodland flora.
Darwin would be the closest city to Litchfield at 100km away and the sleepy town of Batchelor would be your closest port of call if you are to choose not to camp within the park. If you are deciding otherwise, Batchelor would be the last place at which you can stock up on supplies. If you have your own vehicle it is recommended that you fill a couple of spare jerry cans of fuel from Darwin and save yourself 30c per litre in fuel prices. You can technically cover Litchfield National Park in a day, however I would recommend against this because there is a lot to enjoy and savour within it. There’s definitely no need to rush. Getting around with your own vehicle is always the best option, but if you do not have your own, catching a bus to Batchelor, hike or cycle around the park, could turn into a great adventure.
It’s quite an experience to explore and enjoy so many waterfalls and rock pools in such close proximity. The energy found at these sites is something very unique mostly because this is the only fresh water source in the northern territory. Most importantly, the only crocodiles that may live around here are fresh water crocodiles and can only be found during the wet season.
Therefore, if you get to find yourself in the northern territory of Australia any time soon, I advise you not to dismiss Litchfield National Park; that one place within this vast continent where you can really experience the authentic nature of Australia.
Until next time, let the world be your playground.