Edith Falls - beautiful but closed
This time our destination was Litchfield National Park.
Morning was quite chilly and we left Katherine without any big regrets. It was 240 kilometres from Katherine to Batchelor. On the way to Bachelor we stopped to see Edith Falls. Unfortunately, the trails were closed as high levels of water in the wet season damaged them and it was not safe to walk there.
Also, we were hoping to at least have a swim there, but swimming was not allowed. Now, at the beginning of the season there were still plenty of crocodiles hanging around so this could be the reason swimming was prohibited.
Bigger termite mounds and more vegetation
We travelled further, feeling unsatisfied, although Nell was quite happy because she managed to get an ice cream (because we were not able to deliver the promised swimming at the falls).
As we were driving I noticed that surroundings have changed again. What was most visible, the termite mounds were much higher, over 1.5 meters. There were also more palm trees close to the road. We also noticed a lot of small fires of vegetation along the road. We learnt later that it was part of a planned bush burnout.
The locals do not pay attention to them, although we were a bit uncomfortable looking at the sky covered with smoke and the sun in an intense red color and bits of ash hovering around.
Batchelor Holiday Park
Batchelor is a small, tourist town at the entrance to Litchfield National Park with a population of 800 located 18 kilometres from Litchfield National Park boundary. We decided to stop at Batchelor Holiday Park, hoping that we would meet some children with whom Nell could play. This was a smart decision, and soon we set our camp, we had a girl with Nell’s age camping next to us!
Unfortunately, our young one quickly got bored and went to torment the girl’s parents with standard questions: “What are you doing? But why? But why…”. Luckily the people are very nice and answered all possible questions. We were planning to visit Lost City in the Litchfield National Park, but this part of the park was still closed due to flooding.
Our plan was to stay in Batchelor for three days and day trips to Litchfield National Park.
Magnetic Termite Mounds
Next day morning was busy, because we had to change our plans because of the flooding. That’s ok, there was still plenty to see. The first thing you see after entering Litchfield National Park from the east are Magnetic Termite Mounds.
Magnetic Termite Mounds can only be found in Litchfield National Park. The orientation of the mounds is always north-south. It points like a compass needle, that’s why people call them magnetic. Its really interesting how these small creatures know to align their homes with the poles of the Earth. Termites like warm, stable temperatures so the structure has to be built so the heat is spreading evenly inside the mount during the day.
Those mounds that are not aligned appropriately to the prevailing wind and shade conditions perish, whereas those mounds aligned correctly grow to maturity and produce offspring mounds that are similarly oriented. They are not as big as the cathedral mounds.
Recommended equipment for Litchfield NP
- GPS Navigator or compass
- Maxtrax – if you get bogged, you can use it for additional traction
- Tyre Deflator – deflate tyres quickly when going on dirt or 4WD
- Air Compressor – inflate tyres quickly after going back on bitumen (we use MM)
- Tyre Repair Kit – to fix the tyre by yourself when you don’t have access to the tyre shop (we use Oztrail)
- Shovel – if you get bogged, better have it
- UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency
- Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road
- High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks
- Fuel funnel with water filter – additional protection when fueling up in dodgy places
- Additional fuel canisters
Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole
After seeing the mounds we drove further to see more. The only problem was, a lot of people decided to be in the same place and at the same time as us. Two beautiful waterfalls were packed with tourists.
We made a note to get up tomorrow much earlier and be there first. The nature itself (without tourists) is really beautiful and worth seeing. The water in the waterfalls is pleasantly warm, the air is 32 degrees Celsius and humidity reaches 100%. An amazing tropics… We also did a short warm-up trail (1.7 km) to check Nell’s walking abilities. It was totally not what we expected.
When the road was flat, she wanted to be carried, but as soon as a hill appeared, she immediately rushed to conquer it. And when she had to climb stones, she was in seven heaven – the bigger hill or stone the better.
After returning to our camp, we made a delicious grilled meat that had previously been pickled and smelled great while grilling. So good that we got “friendly” flies from all over the area. There were so many of them that we had to eat in the trailer, and hundreds of flies sat on the door net and buzzed noisily in protest.
Next day, our plans to get up early and hit the track turned out to be nothing more than wishful thinking … We got up after 9 am, then we had breakfast, coffee and at noon we were “already” ready. This time we visited the north side of Litchfield National Park.
I don’t know how to describe it. I think everyone should see it! Beautiful, wild and full of undefined vibe. I wanted to take thousands of photos, videos, remember the colour of the setting sun, air humidity, the smell of wet earth, and the clarity of streams. I am charmed by it.
We visited a few waterfalls today. One of them was Wangi Falls, a very popular spot to take a few photos in picturesque settings without being too far from the car (crucial for 99% of tourists). However, we were tempted to go for a trail around the waterfall.
The track was a bit challenging as it is a steep climb up, then, it goes over the waterfall on the bridge and then steep descent.
When we started the trail we had to walk up rapidly and the wet forest disappeared after a few hundred meters. However the view on the horizon was wonderful. We crossed a rushing waterfall and we started going down again. This time on the other side of the waterfall.
On the way we were watching hundreds of big Orb female spiders (about 8-10 cm) and small males in their vicinity (1 cm). The spiders reminded me a little bit of Harry Potter’s forbidden forest with its huge spiders.
Nell was conquering every big rock
Nell had an incredible desire to explore, she liked everything. Her enthusiasm and strength amazed us. Sometimes we had to stop her because we couldn’t keep up with her jumping from one big stone to the other! Delighted by her willingness to walk, we decided to reward her with ice creams (again) and we went to the only cafe bar in the park.
Wangi Falls - famous mango cheese cake
The guidebook informed us that this place is famous for its mango cheesecake. Of course, we had to order it, plus two coffees. Nell got her favorite chocolate ice cream.
Let’s focus on the most important thing – mango cheesecake. It was delicious! This creamy, fluffy cheesecake was perfectly sweet with a light and delicate texture, topped with fresh juicy mango. Let me say it – it was pure decadence.
Bamboo Creek Tin Mine
After coffee and amazing desert we were still full of beans, so we decided to visit the tin mine. Bamboo Creek Tin Mine is located in the beginning of Litchfield National Park when you are driving from the north. The mine had been closed since 1953, because mining turned out to be unprofitable.
We went around some still standing buildings, but generally this place is a reminder of a more harsh time when people worked in bad conditions for tiny profit.
Next item on our list was most pleasant – a swim at Walker Creek! But not any swim, after hanging with lots of people for the whole day we wanted to have some secluded, beautiful place only for ourselves. With this conviction we set off on the last trail of today along Walker Creek. The sun was setting and everything was lit in dramatic colors, as we made our way through the gorgeous and scary looking rainforest along the crystal clear stream.
We were passing a few warning signs with information that swimming is prohibited (crocodiles?), so we carried on. We were driven by the desire to plunge into this wonderful, crystal clear water. The trail went up and down, we jumped over the stones several times crossing the stream.
We kept telling ourselves “Not yet, but in a moment.” We didn’t meet anyone on the way. It was wild and wonderful. At one point, we had to balance on a fallen tree, all in order to finally see a beautiful waterfall and small swimming pool with clean white sand…
Swimming at Walker Creek
We were dumbfounded with delight. Nell had already undressed on the way and she was ready to take a swim. For a while (but only moments) we had a slight resistance to enter this water (crocodiles….), but we found information nearby that swimming was allowed so we jumped in. The water was wonderful. I swam right up to the waterfall and enjoyed the wonderful drops that fell on me. It was an amazing feeling!
It was getting dark and we had 1.3 km return. We decided that we will definitely go back there in the next few days and I’m sure we’ll keep our promise. I think Walker Creek we be on of my favorite attractions in Litchfield National Park.
What is also important that today Nell walked over 4 km on her own, that’s a new record! We were hoping that her batteries were finally flat, but unfortunately, it was the other way around. After the return we were exhausted but Nell still wanted to play football!
Last day in Batchelor
Our last day in Batchelor was very lazy. We spent it getting ready to go deep inside Litchfield National Park. The place we chose for our next stay, Florence Falls has no water, toilet or electricity. However, we can enjoy nature, make a fire and imagine that we are discovering new routes.
In the evening we went to play mini golf. Nell was nagging us all day, so we decided to have a try. I was hopeless, Nell struggled to hit the ball, Marius won as usual.
Florence Falls Campground
Next day, we moved to Florence Falls camping ground, a more remote place in Litchfield National Park. It was a really beautiful wild place, next to Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole. People camping there have to be completely independent because there is no civilization. No water, no power, not even a tiny dunny…
So we put up a portable bathroom with a toilet and shower. That was something new and amazing for our three year old kid. She just loved this “new place” and was calling us every 5 minutes claiming she needs to go to pee.
We decided to go on the trail to Cascades waterfalls and it was great as usual. The place is so wild that animals came to watch us. It started with a very nice, half-meter long lizard that swam with us in the natural pools on the trail. Then I was “tickled” by yabbie as I was sitting in shallow water, and then quite a lot of shrimp came to say hello.
The pools were great. The water cascaded down the stones lazily and it was very relaxing … On the way to the camp, we collected some more wood and in the evening we could enjoy a wonderful campfire and watch the usual spectacular sunset. Litchfield National Park – what a place!
Because the place is really remote we had to find a spot where we could collect water. Marius had to bring it from the spring located down below our camp. He carried water for Nell’s shower in the morning and we kept it in the sun to make it hot for her later on.
In the evening we gave Nell a quick shower… and five minutes later she fell into the remains of yesterday’s fire. We were watching here in disbelief, because she was covered with ash, from arms to toes, eh life…
We had another round of shower for her, this time in cold water. She was not impressed. We finished the day with a campfire and me playing a guitar after a long time. I really love bush camping!
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 …