Sunday, September 29, 2013

Australia 2013 | Litchfield National Park Waterfalls & Swimming Holes #NTAustraliaSG

Our day spent swimming at Litchfield National Park was the best part of the trip for me. A little known fact about me is that I used to take part in competitive swimming when I was younger. For years, I trained daily, sometimes twice a day, for two hours swimming up and down the pool until one day I got very tired of it all and stopped completely.

Swimming at the crystal-clear waterfalls and swimming holes in Litchfield helped me remember why I loved swimming in the first place. Being in the water makes me feel so free and if you just submerge yourself entirely, all you hear is just the sound of water and your thoughts. So peaceful and surreal. With every splash, all cares seem to wash away and everything seems magical like a kid again :) How many things can you do in life that makes you feel so relaxed, yet alive all at the same time??

Just 1.5 hours drive away from Darwin, Litchfield National Park is smaller than Kakadu National Park, but still contains several different type of habitats including lush monsoon forests, termite mounds, unusual rock formations, waterfalls and cascades. It's very popular for a day trip {we even met some visitors from Melbourne} or an extended visit staying in one of the accommodation properties. We visited Magnetic Termite Mounds, Cathedral Termite Mounds, Wangi Falls, Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole during our day trip there.

The termite mounds in Northern Territory are HUGE!! Some are even taller than our guide Luke, and he is quite a tall Aussie bloke. But what's most amazing thing about Magnetic Termite Mounds is that they are all aligned north-south as part of a temperature contral mechanism to minimise the exposure to the sun. Such precision and finesse by these tiny creatures in building these architectural feats complete with arches, tunnels, chimneys, insulation and nursery chambers! Most of the huge ones have taken thousands of years to build!

The Magnetic Termite Mounds are about 2m high and we also saw the Cathedral Termite Mounds, which are about 4m high! OMGGGG!

Our first swimming stop was at Wangi Falls, which spills over the sandstone cliffs of the Tabletop Plateau into a large plunge pool that provides a beautiful backdrop for a picnic or walk. Wangi's plunge pool is great for a refreshing dip when it's open during the dry {swimming} season. The natural pool is closed when the water levels are high as strong currents and increased risk of man-eating saltwater crocodiles make it too dangerous to swim.

Luke said freshwater crocodiles may be around during the swimming season {!!!!!!!!!} although they are not known to attack humans. I was quite freaked out by this because, how the heck am I to recognise if they are freshwater or salties??? So in the beginning, I just swam close to Luke haha. Later, seeing so many other people swimming around {safely} without a care, I loosened up a bit but still stayed away from the edges, where Luke said he spotted a few before in his past trips.

There are 2 small waterfalls at Wangi Falls, and you can climb up the smaller one on the left to discover a hidden natural spa pool! It's pretty big and can fit in about 8 people.. hold on to your belongings tightly though because you can't feel the bottom of the pool there. Sakura brought along her water-resistant camera and managed to capture a lot of our water shots, even those underwater! If you have one, you must bring it along.
There are bigger waterfalls at Florence Falls, which is a spiritual place to the Aboriginals living there.
"That element of running water makes it an exclusive place; exclusive to the individual. You got peace of mind on that creek. Because of the rapids and currents, it doesn't matter if you are 5m away from everyone having fun and splashing, you won't hear them." - Aboriginal custodian
So very true. There were less people swimming here than at Wangi Falls, and it was definitely very soul-cleansing, especially when you go right up to the waterfalls and look up at it while lying on your back.

I forced strongly encouraged Leo to swim with me all the way to the waterfalls because unlike at Wangi, nobody was swimming near there and I didn't really dare to swim there alone in case there were water monsters or crocodiles underneath :P He was a real sport and after a bit of struggling, I managed to climb up the rocks to pose for a picture haha. It's not that easy really because there's no ground underneath to push yourself up; you've to use real arm strength. From there it seemed easier to go higher and I would have climbed further up but Leo didn't want to climb, plus there wasn't much time left since we were heading to Buley Rockhole.
It may seem silly to go to 3 different spots for swimming in a day, but trust me, it's all worth it as the experience at each place is quite different.

Buley Rockhole has several small cascades and rock pools that are idea to swim and relax in. The cool, refreshing waters are some of the cleanest around and originate from freshwater springs just upstream which are replenished every wet season. Some even bottle it back to drink! From here the waters flow towards Florence Falls {our second stop} to be enjoyed once again.

This place is highly popular and was the most crowded swimming spot we went to. For the weaker swimmers, Buley is perfect though as there are not many deep areas. And best part is, there are definitely no crocodiles here :)

  • Keep to designated roads and tracks.
  • Pets are not permitted in Litchfield.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and footwear {not much trekking required}.
  • Don't forget your swimwear, towels and water-resistant camera if you have one!
  • Carry and drink plenty of water.
  • Swim only in designated areas and observe crocodile warning signs. Saltwater crocodiles can attack and kill people, and may enter swimming areas during wet season. Freshwater crocodiles might be around during dry {swimming} season but they are said to not be man-eaters and will only bite humans in self-defense.
  • There is no swimming at Reynolds River.   

Litchfield National Park
Litchfield Park Rd, Litchfield Park NT 0822, Australia
Open daily. Free admission.

* Disclosure: My Ultimate Australia Outback Adventure trip was sponsored by Tourism NT, thanks to No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.



An Apel a Day said...

Those waterfalls look so pretty! I don't think I've ever been in a swimming hole. So very fun!

mail4rosey said...

How fun that you were a competitive swimmer!!

The pictures are great, and kudos to the one who brought the waterproof camera!

Ai Sakura said...

Alissa: it was my first time swimming at the waterfalls and swimming holes too! So beautiful and I absolutely adored the experience :)

mail4rosey: exactly!! so thankful she had one haha

Theresa Mahoney said...

That looks amazing! Though I would probably be freaked out for a second about the crocodiles too lol. Great photos!

Stacy said...

Not easy doing anything competitively. :) At least you kept at it a while.

Crocodiles?! Right I am NOT even bringing that swimsuit!

Ai Sakura said...

Theresa: Yes! The crocodiles were definitely daunting haha

Stacy: haha oh you must! At least go to Buley there's no crocs there ;p

Unknown said...

wow looks fun! but OMG the terminte mounds are s-c-a-r-y!!!

Unknown said...

Amazing - we would love to visit Litchfield National park sometime in the future!

Oliveoylz said...

What a relaxing holiday you've had, surrounded by beautiful natural surroundings. Looks like a lot of fun! Wow! Didn't know you were a competitive swimmer...awesome.

Susan said...

Wow, what an amazing experience it must have been to be swimming in water holes. I also love swimming when I was younger and do a lot of reflection when I swim. This reminds me to get the swim suit out!