Maps and Guides:
Litchfield National Park is one of the Northern Territories most popular attractions with over 260,000 people entering the park each year. It is popular with both locals and visitors alike and it’s not hard to see why with spectacular scenery, stunning waterfalls that flow all through the dry season, and pristine swimming holes. However the best parts of Litchfield are only accessible by 4WD and that’s where we leave the crowds behind! And with a Trayon Camper, you get to experience the fabulous scenery and waterfalls in absolute luxury!
There are two main access routes to Litchfield with the most popular from the east via Batchelor on sealed roads. A better route is via Berry Springs and the Cox Peninsula Road which is unsealed in sections, but allows a visit to the spectacular Berry Springs Thermal Park along the way. Also near Berry Springs is the Tumbling Waters caravan park which is a great place to spend a few days if needing some facilities prior to hitting the national park.
Coming from Darwin, the Cox Peninsula Road is 46km south of Darwin off the Stuart Highway with Berry Springs a further 10km. Passing Tumbling Waters the turn-off to Litchfield is only another 12km on the left via Litchfield Park road, and the northern park entrance another 54km. Wangi Falls, the most popular attraction within Litchfield is a further 22km on the left.
Wangi Falls is worth a visit but gets very busy especially on weekends and holidays. The falls and swimming holes are spectacular particularly if you are fortunate enough to visit when it is not crowded. My suggestion is to visit in the morning before the crowds arrive from Darwin. If you have time, the 1.6km return walk to the top of the falls is excellent with great views across the falls and the surrounding stone country.
The second most popular falls in Litchfield is Florence Falls, which is 26km from Wangi Falls. Access to the plunge pool is via 160 steps which tends to reduce the crowds a little, and there is even a 4WD only campground close-by with basic facilities. The two Florence Falls campgrounds (2WD and 4WD access) are smaller and a better option than the large busy campground at Wangi Falls, but they do fill up quickly and it pays to get a site early if planning to spend a night there.
Not far from Florence Falls is the turnoff to the Lost City, accessible via 4WD only. It is an easy 11km trek through woodland country into the crumbling sandstone formations of the Lost City which are estimated to be over 500 million years old. Now this isn’t an actual ancient city, but with a bit of imagination it really looks like one. It’s worth following the 30min walk around the formations before returning to the main Litchfield road.
Now there are much better camping, waterfalls, and swimming options in Litchfield National Park and these are found along the Reynolds River 4WD track. This track is 14km to the west of the Lost City turnoff, or 5km south from Wangi Falls.
Reynolds River Track
The 44km long 4WD only Reynolds River Track is the highlight of the Litchfield National Park. It provides access to the fantastic campgrounds and falls at Sandy Creek (Tjaynera) and Surprise Creek, crosses beautiful and varied country with low lying moist areas with lush vegetation and stands of paperbark and pandanus, meanders through grasslands where the grass is higher than the 4WD, and travels through open country with rocky outcrops. This track also travels past lots and lots of termite mounds, both the cathedral and magnetic type. Up on the main access road to Litchfield there is a big attraction around a few dozen termite mounds, down here there are hundreds and hundreds with not a tourist to be seen!
Trailers and caravans are not recommended on the Reynolds River track so it is definitely “Trayon” country. With the light-weight Trayon camper you should negotiate the often difficult track with ease. A quick setup at one of the campsites you can then enjoy all the comforts of home such as a comfortable bed, well-stock 90lt fridge, gas cooker, and hot & cold running water from the 110lt water tank. There is no roughing it when you own a Trayon camper!
Turning off the Litchfield road it’s time to lock in the hubs and air down ready to tackle the track. It’s not long to the first challenge which is our first creek crossing. This crossing is only 1km from the main road and is one of the deepest on the track, but usually is around 500mm deep with a firm base and shouldn’t present any problems for high clearance 4WD’s. Remember not to wade this crossing as saltwater crocodiles may be present, as is the case with the subsequent creek and river crossings on the Reynolds River track.
Around 5km from the track start is the well signposted turn-off to the Blyth Homestead. The 2km track includes a short deep creek crossing that requires some care, particularly early in the dry season.
The Blyth Homestead was established in 1928 to function as an outstation. It is of heritage significance to the Northern Territory due to its architectural and social history. The homestead was constructed using cypress pine and iron. This style of building was once common on NT pastoral leases, although this is one of the few remaining examples. The well-preserved building contains relics of pastoral and mining activities of the past. There are booklets within the homestead with some great historical photographs and information. Out the back of the homestead is an old tin mine which was part of the reason for the homestead location. The simple bush architecture illustrates the harsh conditions under which people out here once lived.
Returning to the Reynolds River track continue southwards for a further 2km to the turn-off on the left to Sandy Creek (Tjaynera) Falls. This rough track follows Sandy Creek for 2km before terminating at the picturesque camping area. The campground has individual bays recessed into the bush with their own fireplace, some with tables and an amenities block that includes flushing toilets and cold showers. This is a great spot for an overnight stop if you can grab one of the few spots available, making sure you allow enough time to visit and relax at the falls a short walk away.
If you don’t fancy a cold shower, then if you have a Trayon Camper you can pop open your shower tent, turn on the hot water service and have a nice warm shower.
Sandy Creek (Tjaynera) Falls
Sandy Creek is one of the best locations within Litchfield, arguably the finest. The picturesque walking trail to the falls starts from the campground and stretches for 1.6km (3.2km return) through open woodlands and stands of paperbark. The falls drop over a tall red cliff into a large and deep pool surrounded by monsoonal forest. There is a small rocky ledge from where you can enter the crystal clear water, lots of little fish, plenty of birds, and very few people! We even spotted a freshwater turtle on the pool’s edge. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon, swimming in the refreshing clean water with the afternoon sun lighting up the spectacular red cliffs surrounding the waterfall and pool. It doesn’t get much better than this!
After a fantastic afternoon and evening at Sandy Creek, head back to the Reynolds River track and continue south. Passing through the gate and sign stating “Snorkel Advisable” expect some more challenging river crossings!
Reynolds River Crossing
Around 6km from the Sandy Creek turn-off is the deepest and most challenging crossing of the track – the crossing of the Reynolds River East branch. This deep and sandy crossing requires great care and a steady approach for success, with water likely to spill across your bonnet as you pick a path along the creek through the vegetation and across the other side. This is what 4WDriving is all about!
A little further on the woodlands open out into a large open tall-grass field of cathedral and magnetic termite mounds that create a surreal landscape. The sheer number of them resemble tombstones and some tower many metres above your vehicle. This scene is unique to Litchfield and particularly the Reynolds River 4WD track. It’s definitely worth the effort to travel this track for this reason only.
The next challenge is Mistake Creek which is generally dry and straightforward, after which you then pass several waterways with various bird species including pelicans and egrets that are commonly present. With Prospect Hill prominent on the left the track then arrives at the turn-off to the left to Surprise Creek Falls.
Surprise Creek Falls
Surprise Creek Falls is the southernmost waterfall and campsite in Litchfield. The campground has basic facilities including pit toilets, tables and fireplaces. The walk to the pools and falls starts at the back of the camping area, and it’s only a few hundred metres along the creek until you arrive at the main pool at the bottom of a rounded rock face. You can find a place here to relax and swim, or explore further. Sticking to the right of the main pool climb up to the next rock terrace and try out this small deep pool. Continue further up to other pools and just choose one to your liking. There are fantastic views from the top as well, the downside is that there is no shade.
From Surprise Creek head back onto the Reynolds River track and south for 5km to Prousts Crossing which is an easy crossing of the upper reaches of the main Reynolds River. A further 11km onwards the track finishes at the Daly River Road. From here you can turn right to explore the Daly River region (31km southwest) or left to Adelaide River or Hayes Creek on the Stuart Highway (both 80km away).
Litchfield National Park is one of the most spectacular regions of the top end, and the Reynolds River Track explores the best part of this outstanding area. Come and experience the pristine waterfalls, camp in the fabulous campgrounds, and travel through impressive landscapes. This is one of the premier locations in Australia, make time and plans to experience it for yourself soon.