Litchfield National Park
Where is Litchfield ?
What is Litchfield National Park ?
Litchfield National Park is a Northern Territory national park governed under the NT Governments Parks and Wildlife Commission Act (29 November 1995). Although the park effectively came into existence in 1986 it was actually first declared under section 12 (1)(a) of the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act in July 1991. The park was then re-declared under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act in 2002.
As such Litchfield National Park falls under the management role of the Minister for Tourism and Culture.
It is one of 87 parks in the NT portfolio and contributes about 150,000 ha to a total of just over 5 million hectares.
Where is Litchfield National Park ?
The Eastern entry to the park is found at:
- DEG: -13.040208 130.92514
- DMS: 13º 02′ 24.75″ S 130º 55′ 30.51″ E
- UTM: 52 L 8557626mN 708767mE
- Altitude: 76.38m
From Darwin travel 100 km south on the Stuart Highway and turn off to the small country town of Batchelor. Stop in at the local Batchelor Museum which does an amazing job of capturing some of the unique aspects of the life and times of the region before continuing on to the park.
The eastern entry to Litchfield is about 20 km down the road. All is sealed bitumen and in great condition.
All in all from Darwin centre to the eastern entry to Litchfield is around 140 km and should take about 90 minutes of safe driving.
What is the best way to get to Litchfield Park
How you choose to go to Litchfield will depend on many factors. Simply put you can:
- Walk / ride a push bike
- Take a tour
Depending on your motivations, time, familiarity with the area, knowledge of locations in Litchfield, season blah blah blah … will determine which option you choose.
Self-driving, weather it be from a hire car company or your own vehicle comes with many benefits and is certainly an easy option to just get there ( for the most part anyway) however there are also plenty of things to consider before you go down that path. Foremost of course is the whole organizing the day itself. Additional are the questions … where to eat, what to bring, how long to stay in places, travel conditions, safety etc etc As an overview of these issues please read this.
Walking / riding a bike is a very eco friendly option and one that will justify many beverages at the end of the day (for those that need justification). To do this you will need multiple days and a good plan if things go wrong. Certainly every year there are a handful of people that do this however be aware that the roads both in the park and accessing the park (highway) do not have much in the way of shoulder verges so traffic is a constant concern.
There are also road trains frequently operating in the region which create strong drag currents and buffering … all in all a dicey proposition.
Flying – unless you have wings this is not an option to get there but once there, yes, there is a scenic helicopter flight available for various flight times. This usually runs out to be about $10 a minute in the air.
Organised tours – these can be part of a group tour where you are hanging out with random people (or soon to be new BFF) in group sizes from 6 to 50 people (depending on the company) or perhaps opting for a private charter option where it is just you and yours and the guide. The value here will depend on many factors including of course the price and the inclusions of the trip. In general for those who are looking to understand and fully appreciate Litchfield Park and the region then a guided tour is most often the best option. Of course there are pros and cons with this as well … read this.
Who visits Litchfield park ?
Litchfield National Park is considered by most people in the tourism industry as the cornerstone of all tourism in the Top End. In fact visitor numbers to Litchfield are third behind Casuarina Coastal Reserve and the World Heritage Area of Uluru Kata Tjuta in Central Australia and significantly more than World Heritage Kakadu National Park.
In 2018 Kakadu had 200,577 visitors in total which was the highest number in decades. For the same period Litchfield saw 331,300 visitors travel to enjoy.
The majority of visitors are Australians traveling interstate (70%) followed by international (18%) and then intrastate (12%). Regardless of the origins all have great cause to make the journey.
What makes Litchfield National Park Great ?
The reasons for Litchfield National Parks popularity are many and varied, which combined together make it an awesome park for everybody. In no particular order features include:
- Clear representation in the geological sequence of ancient landform changes and world evolution
- High degree of biological diversity
- High degree of variability in ecotypes
- Rich historical stories
- Proximity to Darwin – only 90 minutes south of Darwin accessible all year round
- Access to quality facilities – toilets, café, Wifi
- Diversity of experiences – hiking trails (long/short/ tracks/non tracks/ short to multi-day), swimming spots, camping areas, 4WD tracks, wildlife hotspots, spiritual locations, indigenous representation, view points, photography enthusiasts
- Broad accessibility to key locations – stairs, hardened tracks and railings to superlative locations such as Wangi Falls, Florence Falls
- Availability of remote areas for those wanting to experience a bit more isolation
- High degree of response capability in times of emergency – helicopter pads and emergency devices in the park
These are the clinical expressions of some of the attribute of Litchfield Park. Unfortunately, they fall far short of capturing the essence of the park. This is something which is felt. You need to be here.
“Walking slowly through the open woodland with dappled light playing across the sparse layer of spear grass on your path. A slight breeze shifting the bent stalks ever so slightly coming in from the cool desert to the SE and the mournful call of the laconic Red-Tailed Cockatoos above.
There is a peace here. There is stillness that reminds you that you are not alone.”