Litchfield National Park – stunning waterfalls and magnetic termite mounds

Travel Spiced Life

Edith Falls – beautiful but closed

This time our destination was Litchfield National Park.

The morning was quite chilly, but we left Katherine without any major regrets. It was a 240-kilometer journey from Katherine to Batchelor. On the way to Bachelor, we stopped to see Edith Falls. Unfortunately, the trails were closed due to high water levels during the wet season, which caused damage and made it unsafe to walk there.

We had hoped to take a swim, but swimming was not allowed. At the start of the season, there were still plenty of crocodiles in the area, which may have been why swimming was prohibited.

Edith Falls - beautiful but closed
Edith Falls – beautiful but closed

Bigger termite mounds and more vegetation

We continued our journey, feeling a bit unsatisfied despite Nell’s happiness from her ice cream. As we drove, I couldn’t help but notice that the landscape had changed again.

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The most noticeable difference was the termite mounds, which now towered over 1.5 meters. Additionally, there were more palm trees lining the road, and we spotted numerous small fires burning off vegetation along the way.

We later discovered that these fires were part of a planned bush burnout, which is a common practice used to manage the risk of wildfires by removing excess vegetation that could fuel the flames.

Despite the disappointment of not being able to swim at Edith Falls, we were fascinated by the changing landscape and the unique features of the Australian outback.

Termite Mounds
Litchfield National Park – Termite Mounds

Although the locals seemed unfased by the bush burnout fires, we couldn’t help but feel a bit uncomfortable as we watched the smoke cover the sky and the sun turn an intense red color.

Bits of ash hovered around us, adding to our unease. Despite our discomfort, we understood that this was a necessary measure to prevent wildfires and were grateful for the efforts being made to keep the area safe.

Control burnouts in outback
Control burnouts in the outback

Batchelor Holiday Park

We arrived at Batchelor, a small tourist town located just 18 kilometers from the boundary of Litchfield National Park. With a population of 800, we hoped to find some other families for Nell to play with and decided to stay at Batchelor Holiday Park. It turned out to be a smart choice because we quickly met a girl Nell’s age who was camping next to us.

Unfortunately, Nell quickly got bored and began pestering the girl’s parents with her standard barrage of questions: “What are you doing? But why? But why…?” Luckily, they were very patient and answered all of her questions.

Although we had hoped to visit the Lost City in Litchfield National Park, we discovered that this part of the park was still closed due to flooding. Despite this setback, we planned to stay in Batchelor for three days and make day trips to explore the rest of Litchfield National Park.

Magnetic Termite Mounds

The next morning was busy as we had to change our plans due to the flooding. However, we were excited to explore Litchfield National Park and knew there was still plenty to see.

As we entered the park from the east, the first thing that caught our attention were the Magnetic Termite Mounds.

Litchfield National Park - Magnetic Termite Mounds
Litchfield National Park – Magnetic Termite Mounds

Magnetic Termite Mounds are a unique and fascinating feature of Litchfield National Park. These mounds can only be found in this park, and their orientation is always north-south, pointing like a compass needle, hence the name “magnetic.”

It’s truly remarkable how these small creatures know to align their homes with the poles of the Earth. Termites prefer warm, stable temperatures, so the structure of the mound has to be built in a way that evenly spreads heat inside during the day.

Interestingly, those mounds that are not aligned properly to the prevailing wind and shade conditions perish, while those that are correctly aligned grow to maturity and produce offspring mounds that are similarly oriented. Although they are not as big as the cathedral mounds, Magnetic Termite Mounds are still an impressive sight to see.

Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole

After seeing the Magnetic Termite Mounds, we continued our drive deeper into Litchfield National Park to explore more of the park’s natural wonders. However, we soon discovered that we were not the only ones with this idea, and the two waterfalls we had hoped to see were packed with tourists.

Feeling disappointed, we decided to wake up early the next day and arrive at the waterfalls before the crowds. We knew that the natural beauty of the falls would be worth seeing without the distraction of other tourists. The water in the falls was pleasantly warm, and the temperature outside was a hot 32 degrees Celsius with humidity reaching 100%. It was an amazing tropical experience.

We also took a short warm-up trail that was only 1.7 kilometers long to test Nell’s walking abilities. However, the trail was not what we expected, and it turned out to be more challenging than we had anticipated.

Litchfield National Park - Florence falls
Litchfield National Park – Florence falls

During our hike, we noticed that Nell had mixed feelings about walking. When the path was flat, she wanted to be carried, but as soon as a hill appeared, she immediately wanted to climb it. And when we encountered rocky terrain, she was in heaven and loved the challenge.

After returning to our camp, we enjoyed a delicious grilled meat that we had previously marinated, and the aroma attracted numerous flies. They were so persistent that we had to eat inside the trailer while hundreds of flies buzzed noisily outside in protest.

Despite our failed attempts to wake up early, we were still determined to explore the park further.

On our second day, we headed to the north side of Litchfield National Park, and words cannot do justice to the beauty we witnessed. It was wild, untamed, and full of an unexplainable energy. I wanted to capture every moment with thousands of photos and videos, to remember the colors of the setting sun, the humidity in the air, the smell of wet earth, and the crystal-clear streams. I was completely charmed by it all.

Wangi Falls

During our second day at Litchfield National Park, we visited several waterfalls, including the popular Wangi Falls. It was the perfect spot to take some picturesque photos without straying too far from the car, which is crucial for most tourists. However, we were intrigued by a trail that led around the waterfall and decided to give it a try.

The trail turned out to be quite challenging, as it involved a steep climb up, crossing a bridge over the waterfall, and then a steep descent. Despite the difficulty of the trail, we were rewarded with stunning views of the waterfall and surrounding landscape, making it well worth the effort.

Litchfield National Park - Wangi Falls
Litchfield National Park – Wangi Falls

As we began the trail, we quickly ascended through the wet forest, and after a few hundred meters, the forest gave way to a stunning view on the horizon. We then crossed over a rushing waterfall and began our descent on the other side.

During our hike, we encountered hundreds of big Orb female spiders, each about 8-10 centimeters in size, with small males nearby measuring only about 1 centimeter. These spiders reminded me of the giant spiders from Harry Potter’s Forbidden Forest. Despite their intimidating size, they were harmless to humans and provided a unique and memorable aspect to our hike.

Orb Spiders are common in Litchfield National Park
Orb Spiders are common in Litchfield National Park

Nell was conquering every big rock

Nell’s enthusiasm and energy were infectious, and we were amazed by her desire to explore everything. We had to stop her occasionally, as she would jump from one big stone to another, and we struggled to keep up with her.

However, we were delighted by her willingness to walk, and we decided to reward her with ice cream (again) at the only cafe bar in the park. It was a nice break for all of us, and we enjoyed some refreshing treats while taking a break from the hot and humid weather.

Wangi Falls – famous mango cheese cake

The guidebook had informed us that the cafe bar was famous for its mango cheesecake, and we couldn’t resist ordering it along with two coffees. Nell, of course, got her favourite chocolate ice cream.

Now, let’s focus on the most important thing – the mango cheesecake. It was simply divine! The creamy, fluffy cheesecake had the perfect balance of sweetness with a light and delicate texture, topped with fresh, juicy mango. It was pure decadence and definitely worth the hype. We all savored every bite and agreed that it was one of the best desserts we had ever tasted.

Wangi Falls - famous mango cheese cake
Wangi Falls – famous mango cheesecake

Bamboo Creek Tin Mine

After our delicious dessert and coffee, we still had some energy left, so we decided to visit the Bamboo Creek Tin Mine. The mine is located at the beginning of Litchfield National Park when driving from the north, but it has been closed since 1953 due to being unprofitable.

As we walked around the remaining buildings, we were reminded of a harsher time when people worked in challenging conditions for very little profit. It was a sobering experience to see the remnants of the mine and reflect on the difficulties faced by those who worked there.

Nonetheless, it was interesting to learn about the history of the area and how it had been shaped by mining in the past.

Litchfield National Park - Bamboo Creek Tin Mine
Litchfield National Park – Bamboo Creek Tin Mine

Walker Creek

The next item on our list was perhaps the most pleasant – a swim at Walker Creek! However, we were determined to find a secluded and beautiful spot just for ourselves, away from the crowds we had encountered earlier in the day.

With this goal in mind, we set off on the last trail of the day along Walker Creek. The sun was setting, and the surrounding landscape was lit in dramatic colors as we made our way through the lush and slightly ominous-looking rainforest along the crystal-clear stream. It was an otherworldly experience, and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to enjoy this breathtaking scenery all to ourselves.

Litchfield National Park - walker creek walk
Litchfield National Park – Walker Creek Walk

Despite the warning signs indicating that swimming was prohibited (likely due to the presence of crocodiles), we were determined to take a dip in the clear waters of Walker Creek. We continued along the trail, which led us up and down, jumping over stones and crossing the stream several times.

As we made our way, we kept telling ourselves that we were not far from our destination. We did not encounter anyone along the way, and it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.

It was a wild and wonderful experience. Finally, after balancing on a fallen tree, we were rewarded with the sight of a beautiful waterfall and a small swimming pool with clean white sand. It was a perfect spot for a refreshing swim, and we savored every moment of our time there.

Swimming at Walker Creek

We were overjoyed at the sight of the beautiful waterfall and the small swimming pool with white sand. Nell had already undressed on the way and was eager to take a swim. Initially, we were a bit hesitant due to the warning signs regarding crocodiles, but we soon found information nearby indicating that swimming was allowed, and so we jumped in.

The water was refreshing, and I swam right up to the waterfall, feeling the drops falling on me. It was an incredible feeling, and we all enjoyed our time in the water immensely. We were grateful for the opportunity to swim in such a beautiful and secluded spot, and it was a perfect end to our day at Litchfield National Park.

Litchfield National Park - Walker Creek Swimming
Litchfield National Park – Walker Creek Swimming

As it was getting dark, we knew it was time to head back along the 1.3 km trail. We made a promise to return to Walker Creek in the next few days, and I am sure we will keep it. The Walker Creek trail had quickly become one of our favorite attractions in Litchfield National Park.

Another highlight of the day was Nell’s achievement of walking over 4 km on her own – a new record for her! We had hoped that she would be tired out by the end of the day, but it seemed her energy was boundless. Even after our return to camp, she still wanted to play football, while we were exhausted and ready for some rest.

Overall, it had been a memorable and fulfilling day, and we were excited for what the next few days at Litchfield National Park would bring.

Last day in Batchelor

Our last day in Batchelor was a lazy one as we prepared for our next adventure deep inside Litchfield National Park. We had chosen to stay at Florence Falls, which had no water, toilet, or electricity, but we were excited to experience nature and explore new routes.

In the evening, we decided to play mini-golf, as Nell had been nagging us all day to give it a try. I was hopeless at it, and Nell struggled to hit the ball, while Marius won as usual. Nonetheless, it was a fun way to spend the evening and a nice break from our preparations for the next few days.

Florence Falls Campground

The next day, we made our way to the Florence Falls camping ground, a remote and beautiful spot in Litchfield National Park. Situated next to Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole, it was a truly wild and stunning location.

However, it was important to note that camping there required complete independence as there were no facilities whatsoever – no water, no power, not even a small restroom. We had to be self-sufficient and prepared for a few days of rustic camping in the midst of nature.

Litchfield National Park - Florence Falls Camping
Litchfield National Park – Florence Falls Camping

To make our stay more comfortable, we set up a portable bathroom with a toilet and shower. This was a new and exciting experience for our three-year-old daughter, who was constantly calling us every five minutes to tell us she needed to go to the bathroom…

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Cascades Waterfalls

Our decision to go on the trail to Cascades waterfalls was a great one, as usual. The area was so wild and untouched that even the local animals came out to watch us.

During our hike, we were greeted by a friendly half-meter long lizard that swam with us in the natural pools on the trail. As we continued on, I was tickled by a yabbie while sitting in shallow water, and then several shrimp came to say hello.

It was an incredible experience to be so close to nature and witness its inhabitants going about their daily lives. We were grateful for the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the natural world and experience its beauty firsthand.

Litchfield National Park - cascade waterfalls
Litchfield National Park – Cascade Waterfalls

Despite the remote location, we managed to find a spot to collect water. Marius had to go down to a spring located below our campsite to gather water, which he used for Nell’s morning shower. We left the water out in the sun to warm it up for her later in the day.

However, in the evening, Nell fell into the remains of yesterday’s fire, covering herself in ash from head to toe. We watched in disbelief as we had to give her another round of showers, this time in cold water. She was not impressed, but we were able to clean her up before settling in for the night.

We finished the day with a campfire and some music, as I played guitar for the first time in a while. It was a wonderful end to an adventurous day, and we were reminded once again of the joys of bush camping and being close to nature.

Campfire at Florence Falls Campground
Campfire at Florence Falls Campground

Litchfield National Park – Summary

I think this amazing place deserves a visit. In general, we spend 5 days in Litchfield National Park: 3 days we stayed in Batchelor and 2 days at Florence Falls Campground. When staying at caravan park Nell had a chance to play with friends or have a putt putt game while bush camping brought us some new experiences like setting a camp toilet and shower and beautiful guitar evenings at the fire.

We really started to soak in this journey around Australia. I bet there will be more places like Litchfield National Park on our way. 

Our next destination – Darwin …

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One Comment

  1. Kakadu NP is even better but for those on time limits I suggest Litchfield as it has so much so close! Your post is much longer than I’d normally read … maybe break it up into smaller chunks? But great info and stunning shots, impressive

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