A one hour drive away from Darwin is Litchfield National Park that is famous for its waterfalls and, in the tropical heat most importantly, many natural freshwater pools that invite for a swim under the waterfalls.
Climate at Litchfield National Park
We planned our visit to the Northern Territory in October so we would not be there during the wet season where streets may be impassable due to the high water levels. October is the last month of the dry season and also the hottest month. In Darwin at the cost there were already temperatures of up to 34°C. Inland at Litchfield National Park temperatures were even higher, but the climate was also drier.
The heat and drought were on the one hand to our advantage as all park roads were easily accessible and all the natural pools were open for swimming. Some of the natural pools are closed in wet season due to strong currents coming from the waterfalls and the risk of saltwater crocodiles entering them. On the other hand, walking around at temperatures above 35°C in the sun is very exhausting and the dried out forests and savanna-like environment is definitely less appealing than everything being green.
The waterfalls at Litchfield National Park
The first and also most beautiful waterfalls we visited were Florence Falls. Two waterfalls drop into a big natural pool, embedded in beautiful forest. As we arrived there early in the day we had the pool almost to ourselves. The water in the pool was very clear, and everything was set for our first refreshment of the day. Ilinca and I had a beautiful swim and shower under the waterfalls, and thanks to a German tourist who told me in advance to bring my goggles, I could see the pool also from the fish perspective, incl. some medium-sized fish. This was especially beautiful because the morning sunrays enter the water in a flat angle and illuminate half of the pool, while the water in the shadow side of the pool was still dark. Too bad my Sony Camera is not waterproof…
A bit upriver from Florence Falls is a place called Buley Rockhole. A sequence of small waterfalls followed by small pools, some of them several meters deep. Of course I had to explore all of these pools, given the temperatures again a pleasant refreshment.
After a short drive, we then reached Tolmer Falls. This waterfall is beautifully embedded into a gorge and also drops into a large pool, however, swimming there was not allowed to preserve the rare bats that live in the walls of the gorge there. Nevertheless, it was also beautiful to only look at the pool and enjoy the view over the flatland.
Our last refreshment we enjoyed at Wangi Falls, which seemed to be the most popular ones in the park. Due to the dry season there was unfortunately not much water coming down from the cliffs and the water in the huge natural pool below the two waterfalls was not very clear. Nevertheless, it was still a good refreshment to join the dozens of other tourists that were already swimming in the pool.
Wildlife at Litchfield National Park
In theory there is lots of wildlife in Litchfield National Park incl. freshwater and saltwater crocodiles. In reality however we did not encounter too many animals. We saw some kangaroos (or wallabies, I don’t know for sure), some pretty fish in the nature pools, and the usual such as big spiders, frogs, birds, and termites. Some of the termite mounds were really high, up to 6m. Amazing for an animal to build a structure that high while it is only 0.5 cm long.