Photo Essay | Litchfield National Park

I know I haven’t posted my “one’s that got away” (my unseen photos) from November and December – that’s because things with Christmas have been SO hectic I’ve not had time to take any photos, really. I think I only posted around 5 shots on Facebook for the month of December (usually around 30).

Here’s my Facebook page for those who don’t follow me on Facebook. (You should, it’s where I upload my recent shots, the day they are taken!):

And why was Christmas so hectic? Well, for me – I had my first taster of having a “shop”! I operated out of a stall in the Mitchell Centre (Darwin CBD) for 6 weeks.

Pop-up Chrissie stall, now closed

Pop-up Chrissie stall, now closed

Now, on Boxing Day I moved in to a real shop front up at Casuarina! This is only temporary, but I’m pretty happy all the same!

Casuarina Store open til end of Jan 2014

Casuarina Store open til end of Jan 2014

Anyway, back to photos.

I’ve had a couple of days off, and a couple of trips here and there. I’ve been to Litchfield around 3 times in the last month or so – to try and capture our favourite Top End waterfalls with waters flowing well.

Hopefully this guide to Litchfield’s waterfalls will be useful for those visiting the Top End with their own interest in photography!

Litchfield National Park is quite accessible to those with 2-wheel-drive vehicles. In the dry season, there are a few 4-wheel drive routes that are visited by fewer people and provide some great locations to get away from the crowds and experience our Top End wilderness and outback.

Swimming is possible in designated areas. But ONLY in designated areas! Northern Australia is inhabited by large salt water crocodiles, and I don’t recommend sharing a water hole with them. There are certain areas in Litchfield you can swim: Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole are the two most popular: open to swimming year round, and the closest waterfalls to Darwin. These are popular with tourists and Darwin day-trippers alike!

Getting a shot of Florence Falls without the swimmers, is often a challenge!

Taken at the end of December 2014 - just after sunset (hence the lack or swimmers and yellow glow!)

Taken at the end of December 2014 – just after sunset (hence the lack or swimmers and yellow glow!)

Florence Falls is accessed by a coupla-hundred steps down the escarpment. Worth the descent, in my opinion! Although much more enjoyable early in the morning or later into early evening, to avoid the crowds. Between 10am-3pm, this places is packed full of swimmers cooling off in our tropical heat!

This is the creek that runs off from the bottom of Florence Falls. Not flowing too fast at the moment, but as you can imagine the water levels vary seasonally!

A 9 shot panorama

A 9 shot panorama

Buley Rockholes are the creeks that feed in to the top of Florence Falls. Another popular spot for relaxing in the cascading water.  Another popular with visitors – this one is taken around 7:30am, before the hoards.

Buley Rockhole

I think Buley is probably the most accessible swimming hole in the park – a short walk from the car park. I’m not sure if it is wheelchair accessible though – although the walk is short, the end is rocky terrain. Florence Falls is wheelchair accessible to the viewing platform (prior to the hundred-and-something steps).

The next main waterfall “stop” on Litchfield Park Road, is Tolmer Falls. This was where I have visited on my most recent trip on New Year’s Day (2014). Tolmer is the tallest waterfall in Litchfield National Park. You can’t swim in the plunge pool here though – there is a colony of bats that live in the caves around the plunge pool and as a result the area was closed some years ago, to protect them. The park has a viewing platform which is around 600m from the car park, on a wheelchair accessible track. For photography, the best light for this waterfall is late afternoon. Depending on the time of year, it is usually best around 45 minutes before sunset, as too late and the sun will dip below the hills behind (losing the sunlight on the escarpment).

In last light

In last light

I only recently completed the short walk around Tolmer Falls, and I’m glad I did! I think it’s around a 2km loop, and it’s a fairly easy walk (for the fit and able!). Great relaxing walk along Tolmer Creek, with lots of creek/water photo opportunities.

Tolmer Creek

This was taken around 5:30pm, with a polariser and Lee GND filter to darken the sky. f13, 0.6 sec

The final popular stop off along Litchfield Park Road before visitors head back to Darwin or off to camp, is Wangi Falls. This is open to swimming in the dry season only, as during the wet season the increased waterways enable the crocs to move in freely.

Wangi Falls’ appearance changes dramatically through the seasons: the two shots below give an idea of how different it can look, but is no where near the extremes! This waterfall can get much, much heavier and likewise can disappear in to almost nothing!

This photo was taken from actually in the water, as low as I could get whilst keeping the camera safe!

This photo was taken from actually in the water, as low as I could get whilst keeping the camera safe!

Taken during the build up 2012

Taken during the build up 2012

Again, it’s all about timing to avoid the swimmers, in the dry season. Sunset is best viewing here – the escarpment and rocks glow bright red in the last glow of the sun.

If you’re interested in photography and looking to only do a one day trip to Litchfield, I’d recommend an early start – arrive at Buley and Florence early to be able to capture them tourist-free. Sunrise is never much earlier than 6:30am, so it’s not too much of an anti-social start! It takes around 1 hour 45 min, from Darwin to get to Florence Falls. I’d then back track to visit the Magnetic Termite Mounds, before stopping for breakfast/brunch. Then try Tolmer Falls, and Table Top swamp for the bird life. I would drive past Wangi Falls, check out the old abandonned Tin Mine, and have lunch at Walker Creek. I’d then head to Wangi Falls for last light before heading back to Darwin in the dark.

If you have more time – I definitely recommend camping in one of Litchfield’s own campgrounds. In the height of the dry season they can get busy, so arrive just after midday to grab a site. Facilities are basic – Wangi Falls has the best facilities with showers and flushing toilets. Florence and Buley are large sites too, but from memory there are no showers, only “drop-toilets”.

Litchfield National Park has much more to offer those who do decide to stay an extra day.

The Reynolds River track is an adventure that heads down to Douglas Daly. Along the track are much less visited water holes – Sandy Creek Falls and Surprise Falls. The historic Blythe homestead is worth a look to. The road itself is a great drive, and as the name suggests, it crosses the Reynolds River. A 4-wheel-drive is essential, snorkel recommended. The Lost City is also worth a look if time permits.

I hope this helps anyone who is visiting our Top End and Litchfield National Park. It’s certainly a much-loved park with locals and tourists!

More information can be found here – (including maps and road reports)