Getaway Guides,Northern Territory
A Guide to 2WD Waterfall Hopping Around Litchfield National Park
July 11, 2022 • Bismo
6 min read
Curtain Falls at Lower Cascades
Aah Litchfield, you glorious thing! Packed full of waterfall-y wonders, walks and wilderness, ‘Litchy’, as it’s affectionately known to locals, is one of the Territory’s most accessible natural playgrounds and can be reached from Darwin in less than 90 minutes Although it’s possible to make a day trip of it, if you’ve got the time, we recommend taking a night or two for the perfect quick getaway.
Litchfield preparation and safety
Unlike some of the Territory’s further-flung and more remote destinations, you can access the lion’s share of Litchfield in a 2WD via asphalt. You're going deep into a beautiful and mostly untouched country. That means, you need to be prepared. Download accessible offline maps from CamperMate before you hit the road and be sure to bring plenty of water, food and supplies.
No matter the season, take plenty of drinking water and wear suitable sun protection. If you’re planning a lot of water-based activities, we recommend ‘4WD’ sandals with good grip that can get wet. These make for an easier walking experience and will save on bruised feet or wet socks. Oh, and don’t forget to be croc wise when in the Top End.
If you want to camp in Litchfield, be sure to visit and pre-book camping before you leave town via the Northern Territory Environment, Parks & Water Security online booking system. You can also view a range of accommodation options on CamperMate.com.
Respect traditional owners
The Territory is home to many significant cultural First Nation sites. While we understand the temptation to see what’s out there, it’s critical to show respect for Country and traditional owners by not entering restricted areas, which may be sacred sites, ceremonial sites or burial grounds.
When is the best time of year to visit Litchfield?
You can visit Litchfield at any time of year. The most popular time to visit is during the dry (May to September) when temperatures are warm during the day and cool enough at night to be comfortable. If visiting during the wet (December/January to April) or the build-up (October to December), be prepared for more challenging and warmer conditions. Be mindful also that wet season runs November to April, which can obviously impact any camping plans. That said, Litchfield offers many attractions, some of which are accessible only in the dry and others that come alive in the wet.
Suggested Litchfield itinerary from DarwinThere are so many great options, and this is just one suggested itinerary based on the NT Drive Guide. All locations mentioned can be reached with a 2WD. Check out Tourism Top End resources and the CamperMate app for more ideas.
Darwin to Berry Springs (50 kilometres)
Accessibility: Dry season only | Wheelchair accessible
Facilities: Camping: No | Toilets: Yes
It’s an easy 50 km from Darwin to Berry Springs, where you’ll find a beautiful waterway with a large swimming hole and shallower areas suitable for youngsters. The grassy reserve is perfect for picnicking and there’s a small kiosk with swimming noodles and other assorted items available. It’s the perfect place to spend a couple of hours and enjoy a picnic lunch before you continue to Litchfield.
Berry Springs to Cascades (58 kilometres)
Accessibility: Year-round (upper) and dry season only (lower)|Not wheelchair accessible
Facilities: Camping: No | Toilets: Yes
Upper Cascades is one of our favourite Litchfield spots. It’s an absolute gem reachable by a somewhat exposed 3.6-kilometre return grade 4 walk with some gradient. It’s worth it, though. At the top, you’re rewarded with stunning watery scenes and plenty of crystal-clear shallow rock pools. Venture upstream to be rewarded with tranquil cascades and even a sneaky rockslide if you go far enough and it’s the right time of year (during the wet or soon after).
Exploring upstream at the Upper Cascades
While we have a soft spot for Upper Cascades, Lower Cascades ain’t bad, either! Requiring a shady 2.6-kilometre grade 4 walk, Lower Cascades has deeper rock pools and waterfalls than its brother. Due to the increased risk of crocodiles, Lower Cascades is closed during the wet.
Upper Cascades toWangi Falls (7 kilometres)
Accessibility: Year-round (swimming dry season only) | Wheelchair accessible
Facilities: Camping: Yes | Toilets: Yes | Bonus: Kiosk (11am to 2pm daily), free wifi, BBQs, picnic tables
Enjoy a night camping next to Wangi. If visiting in the dry, you’ll be able to enjoy a swim at the large base pool beneath these twin waterfalls. Otherwise, wander the boardwalk for the best view or tackle the circuit or loop walks. If camping here in the wet, be prepared for bugs, because you’ll meet many!
Wangi’s twin falls
Wangi Falls to Buley Rockhole (29 kilometres)
Accessibility: Year-round | Wheelchair accessible to a point (there are some steps, and the water is fringed by rock ledges)
Facilities: Camping: No | Toilets: Yes | Bonus: Picnic tables, BBQs
Buley Rockhole is popular with families due to its accessibility from the carpark (a 5-minute walk along a concrete path) and the smaller pools suited to kids. However, it’s a winner of a spot for any age, with its picturesque cascading pools surrounded by shady monsoon forest - perfect for kicking back with a drink (cans only, no glass!). The ease of access does mean that crowds can be intense, so it’s worth getting there earlier in the day if you like some quieter time.
Buley Rockhole at higher volume in the wet
Buley Rockhole to Karrimurra (Florence) Falls (3.4 kilometres by car or a 3.2-kilometre walk from Buley)
Accessibility: Year-round | Wheelchair access to viewing platform but not for swimming
Facilities: Camping: Yes | Toilets: Yes
Karrimurra Falls is one of Litchfield’s most visually spectacular waterfalls, with considerable volume and gorgeous draping greenery. Marvel at it from the viewing platform or venture down the 150-ish steps to the large deep pool at its base, open for swimming all year round. Karrimurra does get very crowded, but there’s a reason so many people come back time and time again.
Karrimurra (Florence) Falls to Darwin via Adelaide River (192 kilometres)
If you feel like a pub feed, head a little bit further south to Adelaide River. No visit to the township is complete without a stop at the Adelaide River Inn. It’s the perfect spot for a refreshing drink and bite to eat with beautiful grassy space, plenty of shaded tables and live music on weekends. There are also cool local markets that run during the dry from 8am to 12.30pm Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Wednesday.
As mentioned, this is not an exhaustive list of Litchfield spots. It’s not even an exhaustive list of Litchfield waterfalls! If you’ve got a 2WD and 2 days up your sleeve, you can’t go wrong with the above itinerary. However, with so many great spots in Litchfield, do your own research and figure out what suits you best. It’s hard to go wrong.
For more Northern Territory road trip ideas, download the ultimate Northern Territory drive guide here.
Author tags: W: championthewonder.com | I: @championthewonder | F: /championthewonder
Words by Laura Dunn, photos by Jono Moin