It may not be as well known as Kakadu, but many Territory locals rate Litchfield even higher. In fact, there's a local saying that goes: 'Litchfield-do, Kaka-don't'. We don't entirely agree − we think Kaka-do-too − but this is certainly one of the best places in the Top End for bushwalking, camping and especially swimming, with waterfalls plunging into gorgeous, safe swimming holes.
The 1500-sq-km national park encloses much of the spectacular Tabletop Range, a wide sandstone plateau mostly surrounded by cliffs. The waterfalls that pour off the edge of this plateau are a highlight of the park, feeding crystal-clear cascades and croc-free plunge pools.
The two routes to Litchfield (115km south of Darwin) from the Stuart Hwy join up and loop through the park. The southern access road via Batchelor is all sealed, while the northern access route, off the Cox Peninsula Rd, is partly unsealed, corrugated and often closed in the Wet.
About 17km after entering the park from Batchelor you come to what look like tombstones. But only the very tip of these magnetic termite mounds is used to bury the dead; at the bottom are the king and queen, with workers in between. They're perfectly aligned to regulate temperature, catching the morning sun, then allowing the residents to dodge the midday heat. Nearby are some giant mounds made by the aptly named cathedral termites.
Another 6km further along is the turn-off to Buley Rockhole (2km), where water cascades through a series of rock pools big enough to lodge your bod in. This turn-off also takes you to Florence Falls(5km), accessed by a 15-minute, 135-step descent to a deep, beautiful pool surrounded by monsoon forest. Alternatively, you can see the falls from a lookout, 120m from the car park. There's a walking track (1.7km, 45 minutes) between the two places that follows Florence Creek.
About 18km beyond the turn-off to Florence Falls is the turn-off to the spectacular Tolmer Falls, which are for looking at only. A 1.6km loop track (45 minutes) offers beautiful views of the valley.
It's a further 7km along the main road to the turn-off for Litchfield's big-ticket attraction, Wangi Falls (pronounced Wong-guy), 1.6km up a side road. The falls flow year-round, spilling either side of a huge orange-rock outcrop and filling an enormous swimming hole bordered by rainforest. Bring swimming goggles to spot local fish. It's immensely popular during the Dry (when there's a portable refreshment kiosk here; and, in a Territory first, free public wi-fi), but water levels in the Wet can make it unsafe; look for signposted warnings.
The park offers plenty of bushwalking, including the Tabletop Track (39km), a circuit of the park that takes three to five days to complete depending on how many side tracks you follow. You can access the track at Florence Falls, Wangi Falls and Walker Creek. You must carry a topographic map of the area, available from tourist and retail outlets in Batchelor. The track is closed late September to March.