Litchfield National Park is the closest national park to Darwin and it’s overflowing with waterfalls and creeks, making it an excellent spot to spend a few days while visiting the Top End. And if you time it right, you can hit six different swim spots in just one weekend.
We acknowledge that this adventure is located on Wangait Nation, the traditional Country of the Wangait people who have occupied and cared for this land for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
- Finding the secluded plunge pool at Walker Creek
- Picnicking by the mammoth Wangi Falls
- Pub meal in the beer garden of Adelaide River Inn
Please note! Most of these swimming spots are only open during the dry season (May-September) due to the presence of crocs outside of these periods. Read up on staying safe in croc country and check NT National Parks website for current closures.
Day One – Darwin to Wangi Falls
Driving Time: 1 hr 38 min
Beginning your day in Darwin, the first entrance to Litchfield National Park is only 1 hour and 15 minutes down the Stuart Highway. All 2WD accessible spots in the park are just a short drive off the one main road that loops through the entire park.
Starting at the northern entrance and following the road around to the southern exit is the most efficient way to see the park and all its glorious rock holes.
Read more: Staying Safe Around Swimming Holes
Be aware that there’s next to no reception throughout the entire national park. Wangi Falls has a Wifi hotspot you can use if you’re desperate to post your photos ASAP, otherwise it’s best to come fully prepared for an off-the-grid adventure. Batchelor is the closest town with reception!
Swim Spot 1 – Walker Creek
Walker Creek is one of the lesser-visited spots in Litchfield, which is lucky for you because it’s up there with the most beautiful.
Ignore the shallow section of the creek at the car park and continue along the trail that crosses the creek and winds past the eight secluded campgrounds – these are walk-in campsites and can’t be booked ahead (you have to write your name on the blackboard when you arrive to save a spot!).
The path climbs up over a few small ridges and through a pocket of rainforest before opening up to rocky terrain.
At around the 3.5km mark, right by Camp 7, you’ll find the Walker Creek plunge pool. A small cascading waterfall, endlessly-deep pool for bombing into, and plenty of rocks to soak up some rays.
You’ll probably feel like you’re intruding on someone’s private camp spot, but this is a public picnic area as well, so don’t fret, just enjoy!
Read more: Remember to leave no trace!
Swim Spot 2 – Cascades Lower Pools
Once you’ve had your fill of Walker Creek, head back to the car and scoot a short distance up the road to Cascades.
From the car park there are two tracks you can take to either the Lower Cascades or the Upper Cascades. The walk to the Lower Pools has the advantage of shade from the rainforest canopy and is a little shorter at 2.6km.
Sturdy shoes are recommended as there’s some slippery rock hopping involved in getting to the main pool.
When you reach Lower Cascades you’ll be greeted by a clear and sandy-bottom pool sitting pretty below an overhanging rock and waterfall. There’s minimal space to set up for the day here, but to the right of the falls, there’s a short path that climbs up to the flat rocks above.
Up here there’s plenty of space to lay down towels and lots of smaller pools to dip in and out of.
Swim Spot 3 / Base Camp – Wangi Falls
After a busy day of hiking in the heat, Wangi Falls is a blessing! This mighty waterfall and expansive pool is just a short drive up the road from Cascades and doesn’t require a hike in!
There’s a large campground here, which is the best place to pitch up for the night. The campground is also the best in the park for caravans and campervans if that’s how you roll.
In the dry season, it could pay to head here first and claim a spot before heading out exploring, as sites are first in best dressed. You’ll also need to bring some cash to pay the camping fees at the honesty box. Camping fees are $10 for adults, $5 for kids, or $25 for a family of up to six.
You’ll find plenty of facilities here including toilets, showers, tap water, picnic tables, fire pits, cooking facilities, plus a little cafe! There’s a gorgeous shaded and grassy area right by the pool which is lovely for relaxing after all day in the sun.
If you’ve still got spring in your step, there’s a track that climbs up the side of Wangi Falls to the top – The Tabletop Track no less! But be aware this is along a 39km overnight track, so don’t wander too far away!
Day Two – Wangi Falls to Darwin
Driving Time: 2 hr 45 min
Wake up to the gushing of Wangi Falls, but don’t hang around too long – it’s best to get going early before the heat and crowds arrive.
Swim Spot 4 – Tjaetaba Falls
Jump in the car and head up the road to Greenant Creek. From the car park, there’s a 2.7km walk past fig trees and palms and up along a ridgeline to Tjaetaba Falls lookout and plunge pool.
This perfectly spherical pool right by the drop off of the falls is a welcome relief after a short but hot climb. Just don’t get too close to the edge!
There are some rocks here to lay down a towel and relax.
Read more: How To Hike in Hot Weather
Lookout – Tolmer Falls
Not 3km further down the road is the turn off to Tolmer Falls. Swimming at these falls is prohibited as it’s a sacred site for the local Wangait people and rare species of Ghost bats and Orange Horseshoe bats live in the cave near the pool.
But there’s nothing stopping you admiring the falls! A short paved walk to the Tolmer Falls lookout will give an excellent view of these tall and tumbling falls, as well as a lovely vista across the park. (The colours are superb at sunset!).
Return to the car via the 1.6km loop track that follows Tolmer Creek past a bunch of rock pools – however swimming’s not permitted here.
There are a few picnic tables around as well so this is an ideal spot for a bite to eat!
Swim Spot 5 – Buley Rockhole
10 minutes further down the road, take the turn off to Florence Falls. Drive past the campground turn offs, ignore the Buley Rockhole sign and drive to the Florence Falls car park. From here you can access both Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole.
Take the short paved stroll from the car park towards Buley Rockhole – along the way there are several swimming signs pointing off the track – each path leads to its own rock hole!
Some are deeper plunge pools and others are shallower spots to sit and let the cascading water flow over you. If you time it right, you could have one all to yourself!
Swim Spot 6 – Florence Falls
The last swimming hole for the day is the glorious pool at the base of Florence Falls.
Make your way from Buley Rockhole back to the car park and take the stairs down to Florence Falls, making sure to stop off at the lookout to check out what you’re in for!
It’s just a short wander through the rainforest before you emerge by the river, and peek around the corner to see the falls in all its glory.
Hopefully by late in the afternoon the crowds will have started to disperse a little and you’ll be able to grab a slice of this heaven to yourself.
Once your skin starts to get all pruney take the 1km rainforest track back to the car park.
Lookout – Magnetic Termite Mounds
The last stop in the park is the magnetic termite mounds. This short detour will reward you with a field of hundreds of termite mounds, strangely all shaped the same way and facing the same direction.
Pub Meal – Adelaide River Inn
No trip to Litchfield is complete without a cheeky detour south to Adelaide River Inn for a beer and pub feed! This is absolutely one of the best pubs in the Top End, so don’t miss it, whatever you do!
- Car! A 2WD will do
- Quick dry towel
- Sturdy walking shoes
- Camping Gear
How To Get There
Litchfield National Park is a 1.5 hour drive south of Darwin
Start and End Points
Time Spent Driving / Distance / Days
3 hr 50 min / 309km / 2