Why should Kakadu get all the glory? Especially when Litchfield National Park, a mere slip of a thing only covering about 1500km2, compared with Kakadu’s immense 20,000km2, lies a far more friendly two-hour drive down the road from Darwin? Kakadu has always held the crown as the Top End’s premier natural attraction, but we submit that this may change in the near future.
Kakadu’s trump cards are its four mighty waterfalls, three of which require 4WD, and the most famous of which – Jim Jim falls – is wet in the wet season (when you can’t reach it) and dries up in the dry. Litchfield’s four waterfalls are lustily full year-round, and are gathered tightly on the Tabletop Range. Three of these (Florence, Tjaynera and Wangi) are open to swimming in wonderful pools, while the fourth, Tolmer, is protected because of a rare species of bat.
Access is simple, and sealed roads are improving. And another big plus: there aren’t too many spots in Kakadu where you can feel completely safe swimming, but in Litchfield – no estuarine crocs.
Magnetic termite mounds abound in Litchfield, their perfect orientation along north-south poles a wondrous nod to modern architecture. The Lost City with its bizarre sandstone towers, monitor lizards darting to and fro, endless pools, paperbark swamps and picnic spots . . . the people of Darwin, and farther flung, are rightly flocking to Litchfield for their perfect Top End experience.
“SPECTACULAR, VARIED AND EASILY ACCESSIBLE FALLS MEANS THAT LITCHFIELD WON’T BE ON THIS LIST FOR MUCH LONGER.” – Richard I’Anson
WHERE // 100km southwest of Darwin, near Batchelor. Generally accessible year-round via Batchelor. In the dry season it’s also accessible via the unsealed Cox Peninsula Road.
DID YOU KNOW? // Kakadu attracts around 240,000 visitors each year. However, due to the relatively “instant” nature of its attractions, Litchfield is very quickly catching up, posting figures of 220,000 and gaining.