Info: www.nt.gov.au/parks When to go: April-October Grade: Moderate
THEY CALL IT a mini-Kakadu, but to describe the NT’s most visited national park – Litchfield – that way is to do this wilderness haven a disservice. The 1500km² park is jam-packed with waterfalls, magnetic termite mounds, some brilliant swimming holes (check all signs for croc warning/no swimming) and awesome camping. Best of all, the national park is just 120km southwest of Darwin. Even though this may sound warning bells for potential campers, the fact is the park is sizeable enough, with a decent spread of campsites throughout, for you to still find your own personal piece of Top End paradise for a weekend or longer of camping.
Most of the park’s roads are sealed, which results in a large number of day tourers, but if you are prepared to drive (4WD only) into – and explore – the park’s more southerly sections, you will find fewer people with plenty of sublime campsites available. We’d recommend a loop through the park to and from Darwin for a long weekend of camping. And we’d also opt to do it clockwise, driving south along the Stuart Highway from Darwin, and then turning right on to Daly River Road and accessing the park via its southern entrance. It’s a much longer first day, but well worth it…
This southern part of Litchfield National Park is less crowded and a little ‘wilder’ in terms of its landscape, big creeks and rivers, and campsites than the northern section. Most waterways in this section will have dropped down enough for an easy crossing in your vehicle by the end of the Wet Season (usually June, but check beforehand with National Parks) and you will kick off your Litchfield NP camp adventure with a night at one of the prettiest campsites in the park: Surprise Creek Falls. The bonus of this campsite is twofold; it is remote and rarely overcrowded, plus you can safely swim in the waterhole at the bottom of the falls.
For the next night, we’d highly recommend tracking north along the park’s main track, negotiating the park’s widest water crossing – the Reynolds River – and then setting up camp not much further north of there, at beautiful Tjaynera Falls (Sandy Creek). Again, this site is a bit harder to access so there should be space, plus you can enjoy another swim there, safely.
The final day could be spent sampling some of the swimming at the numerous waterfalls in the northern section of the park, such as Wangi and Florence Falls, Buley Rockhole and Cascades. Even though it is popular, we’d still definitely recommend a night’s camping at the quirky Wangi Falls campground, with the waterhole just a short walk from camp for a nice dip at the end of the day. It’s close to the best three days of camping you will find in Oz.
Litchfield National Park’s southern sections contain some spectacular landscapes to explore.