Having learned from my disorganized series on Queensland, I’m going to try to keep things a little more focused from here on out. With that in mind, let’s start where Queensland left off, traveling to the Northern Territory. We flew from Cairns to Darwin and then rented a car, bought all of our camping supplies, and headed off on our epic adventure through the entire center of Australia all the way to Adelaide.
Our first stop on this monumental trip was Litchfield National Park. Its maybe not as famous as it neighbor, Kakadu, but for us we actually enjoyed our time there more. After our long day of packing and driving we immediately headed for a campsite. Based on our research we had decided to camp in the Florence Falls campground for our two nights in the park. We happily selected our site and joyfully jumped out the car to set up our shiny new tent and camping gear. There we were introduced to a terror that we had not been forewarned of. A thing so terrible that it would do it’s best to suck the joy out of every daylight hour. The dreaded Australian bush fly. The flies excitedly welcomed us to our new home as valued guests. We were totally unprepared for this onslaught and it made our first few days in the Outback tough.
When night fell the flies retreated to their homes and we were greeted with a spectacular blanket of stars laid out above us. We drank in the splendor of our first real view of the Milky Way as its band of stars rose above us. We enjoyed the calm of the night as the stress from a hectic day melted away.
The next day was loaded with highlights of Litchfield that you can reach without a 4×4. Naturally, we started with Florence Falls since we were camping there, but unfortunately they were doing construction on the path, so we could only visit the lookout. Not an ideal start, but we pressed on. Next up was the Buley Rockhole, which is actually a series of rock-holes and waterfalls carved out of the stone. If there’s not a lot of people there you can find a nice quiet hole all to yourself to soak in.
We skipped taking a dip and moved on to our next destination, Tolmer Falls. Here we got out first bush walk through the area around the lookout. The vegetation and stone formations in Litchfield are just incredible. They invite you in to look, but at the same time warn you against the dangers of getting lost in the tough terrain. The falls were little more than a trickle since we were at the end of the dry season and it hadn’t been replenished for a few months.
From there it was onto Wangi Falls for a refreshing dip. Based on the massive parking lot and designated tour bus spots we guessed that this was a popular swimming spot. However, that wasn’t enough to deter us as we happily dived into the waters to get a break from the staggering heat. The swim was refreshing and we joined in with a group to do a little rock jumping near the falls. After thoroughly wearing ourselves out we climbed back to dry land and enjoyed a quick lunch.
After baking in the sun to dry off we headed towards our final destination of the day, the Cascades. We walked for a while and were greeted with a beautiful, hidden waterfall with a nice swimming area. It was much quieter than Wangi, with only one other couple there. I can’t completely remember the reason, but we didn’t take any pictures of the cascades which is disappointing because it was so pretty. With our incredibly full day complete, we headed back to camp for dinner and a well deserved rest.
The next morning we were anxious to push on to Kakadu, but there was one more site left for us in Litchfield. That was the enormous magnetic termite mounds we saw on our drive into the park. When I first saw them they looked like giant tombstones laid out in a clearing. These are incredible engineering marvels from these tiny bugs as the mounds can be built up to 3 meters high. It was so interesting to see them all laid out in this one area standing like sentinels in the field. After snapping some photos and shooing away some flies we hopped in the car and headed for Kakadu National Park, which I’ll write about in part two of the series next week.