With Darwin well and truly in our rear vision mirror, or so we thought we pointed the cruiser south heading for the jewel of the north, Litchfield National Park. We had a couple detours penciled in on our journey south before reaching the famed waterfalls and superb swimming holes that Litchfield is world renown for.
The first of these is a short 65km from the city along the Kakadu Highway, yes we still had a few things left to explore in this neck of the woods. Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve is part of the Adelaide River Catchment and a haven for bird and wildlife. Being at the very end of the dry season the dam was a lot drier than we anticipated with only what could be described as a small puddle visible from the elevated viewing platform.
It was here we met one of the rangers and during our conversation even he stated he had not seen the dam this low all his years working here. The previous wet season that usually fills the dam had not eventuated and it was a real concern. Hopefully the next wet season would prove more fruitful.
Just up the road from Fogg Dam you will find ‘Window on the Wetlands’. After parking the cruiser in the car park and taking the walking track uphill to the centre you are rewarded with commanding views of surrounding flood plains along with informative displays on the surrounding wetlands habitat. A well worthwhile stop and nice way to cap off a trip to Kakadu.
After checking out these last two attractions on our ever expanding list we were once again heading south for Litchfield and it’s cool, refreshing waters. There is no doubt the northern section of the park is the most popular with Litchfield Park Road, the main northern access to the national park being sealed these days. Even though this is a bonus inevitably with it comes the hoardes of visitors. This was probably one of the most crowded sites we had visited on this trip, and it wasn’t even holidays or the weekend. That said it is still well worth battling the crowds. Once into the park the first stop is the famous Magnetic Termite Mounds, and this is a real gem to explore and immerse yourself in.
Next up is the start of the many waterfalls Litchfield is known for, all of which are safe for swimming making it as popular as it is. Each of the falls is as uniquely different as the next one and all provide a welcome relief from the relenting heat that the Top End is also well known for.
Also worth checking out along this section of the park is the ‘Lost City’ rock formations. Although a 4wd is required to access this site it is easy going and should pose no problem if you take your time along the narrow access track.
Just up the road from the lost city access track is the delightful Tabletop Swamp. A perfect spot for a cuppa or lunch break and some wildlife spotting.
After visiting several of the waterfalls (read cool refreshing dips) and attractions including an old Tin Mine that once operated in this pristine area, all of which are easily found off the main Litchfield Park Road,
we were trundling back to our campsite along the main park road when a stone from a passing vehicle managed to hit our windscreen resulting in a substantial crack. Following a few expletives and with several weeks of rough outback roads still ahead of us it was decided, seeing as we were still relatively close to civilisation to head back to Darwin to have it replaced. A quick phone call (once we got back into reception) to our insurance company confirmed this and we were heading back to the ‘big smoke’ for one more night.
The next day with our new windscreen we once again had Darwin in our rear vision mirror and were heading back to Litchfield, this time to the more isolated and hopefully less crowded southern section, only accessible via the 4WD only Reynolds River Track. This was to be one of our favoured destinations for this section of the trip and as for the waterfalls and their swimming holes, well they just get better and better. You will have to believe us on that one. And yes even though we didn’t have the place to ourselves it was far less crowded than the more easily accessed northern section.
We also found our favourite swimming hole here, Surprise Creek Falls and yes it certainly is a surprise. We spent two nights camped in this section at different locales and it was extremely hard to leave. But with a many miles still yet to go along with many adventures it was time to say goodbye to Litchfield, howver with all our travels we have vowed to return to this gem if the north.
Stay tuned next time as we continue our journey south and take the ‘Long Way Home’ via the gulf, cut through the magnificent Lawn Hill for a couple nights and even have a change of plans with some flooding through outback Queensland. The adventure continues.