Australia’s tropical north is not only known for its crocodiles but also for its enticing swimming holes and beautiful waterfalls. So, please enjoy the happy memories of my visit to Australia’s top-end.
(Please note: I travelled with a tour group called Territory Expeditions and this was their 3 nights Kakadu and LItchfield tour).
Day 1 - Arrive at Litchfield National Park
Early morning we were picked up by our tour “bus” (it was more like a 4WD truck that’s been loosely converted to a bus) from our Darwin accommodation and drove straight to Litchfield National Park.
The first waterfall we visited was Wangi Falls. A beautiful twin waterfall cascading into a huge swimming hole. It’s usually open for swimming but not the day we visited due to crocodiles in the area. If you get a chance, make sure to checkout the board walk adjacent to the fall, through the palm trees and rainforest – there are native bats and cool sounding birds to check out.
FUN FACT: Did you know, rangers survey the area for crocodiles by placing Styrofoam balls on the water. Crocodiles are naturally aggressive and will most of the time take a bite. Bite marks on ball = crocssss
After walking down some rocky paths, we were pleasantly surprised with an amazing series of rock pools that makes for a great place to relax and cool down. We started all the way at the top and swam/shuffled our way down to the bottom of the pools.
Beware, the rocks can be very slippery in parts so consider wearing rubber/grippy shoes until you get into the water.
After a dip in Buley, we had our lunch and our tour guide told us it will be a nice 45 minute walk straight to the bottom of Florence Falls. Aside from the heat, it was quite an easy walk and felt quite nice to have our wet bathers dry off. Before the waterfalls was in sight, we could hear the thunderous roar of the water cascading down. Florence Falls was probably the biggest and most powerful waterfall I’ll see this trip. I was in awe.
The pool itself has steps and a hand rail to get in. However, a lot of it is quite deep and all you’ve got to hold onto are the slippery rocks along the edges. So if you’re not a confident swimmer I would recommend taking a pool noodle or a floatie.
After a day full of swimming and waterfall hunting, we reached our camp site for the night where we were greeted by our happy neighbours – bush wallabies.
The camp site itself was powered and each of those huts were two single beds. There was also a communal kitchen/dining area and bathroom/shower. It felt like a luxurious version of a traditional camping experience.
Day 2 - Kakadu National Park
Corroboree Wetland Cruise
The next day we started off on a relaxing cruise along the Corroboree wetlands. We started the day expecting to see crocs but sadly, they were a bit shy today. Instead, we were delighted with beautiful scenes of lotus flowers and wildlife we would have never been able to see elsewhere.
Barrk Sandstone Walk
Burrunguy (Nourlangie Rock) is a large sandstone outlier that towers above the surrounding wildlife. Barrk Sandstone Walk takes you through Nanguluwurr art site where you can learn about the culture of the traditional landowners. You can also see all sorts of different wildlife on this walk – watch out for the spinifex, it’s prickly!
If you continue on the steep climb and brave through rocks that become large boulders you will be rewarded with the most surreal view of the Kakadu.
Day 3 - Gunlom Falls and Unknown Waterfall
Just to preface, the photos of this place does not do it justice. It is much more beautiful and surreal than I could imagine.
The next day we woke up at 4am and made our way to Gunlom Falls so we could catch the Sun’s first rays hit this majestic place. Getting there was quite a bumpy ride and of course it was pitch black.
The first half of the hike up was relatively steep but smooth (they’d just recently started paving this path when we were there). The second half was a bit more wild – there was a lot of clambering up rocks and a lot of searching around for flat ground. After what was approximately 40 minutes, we reached the top. When we first got up there, it was still quite dark and the Sun just started peeking up above the horizon. We settled into the best seat in the house, and watch as nature put on a majestic light show for us. The sky lit up in fairy floss colours and the surrounds came to life. It was only then could we appreciate the magic that is Gunlom Falls.
The water was surprisingly warm and was shallow for most parts. We swam, showered under the cascading water and relaxed in the most beautiful, natural infinity pool. Our tour guide then took us up beyond the waterfalls and a short hike later we were awarded with the most amazing plunge pool and hidden waterfall.
After we swam and relaxed at Gunlom, it was time to go to our final destination – a secret, hidden waterfall. It was a relatively short drive to get here and I believe it was located close to Mary River Roadhouse.
The waterfall was small but powerful and it opened to a large pool of serene water. Since it was still quite early in the morning and the sun still hasn’t hit the body water, the swim was a bit of a chilly one. However, sitting on the rocks with the sun streaming down and your feet just hitting the water was quite possibly one of the most blissful experiences.
Day 3 - Back to Darwin - Mindil Beach Market
We closed out the end of this epic 3 day adventure with a sunset at Mindil Beach in Darwin.
Mindil Beach Sunset Markets operates every Thursday and Sunday from 4-9pm from 30th of April – 29th of October. It has a collection of food stalls featuring flavours from different parts of the world as well as handcrafted goods.
After a wonderfully tiring trip, we decided to settle here for the night. We picked our dinner from the variety of food trucks then sat and watched as the Sun bid us farewell for the day.
- Find a reputable local tour operator with a guide who knows secret/off-the-beaten-path locations.
- Pack a flash light for the early morning adventures as well as for going to the toilets at night in campsites.
- Visit Gunlom Falls in the early morning – for the sunrise, the fact that you get the whole pool to yourself and also so that you can choose to hike back down before the sun gets too hot.
- Bring a kick board/pool noodle if you’re not a confident swimmer. The waterfalls/swimming holes are often times quite deep.
- If you’re planning to drive, get a 4WD, be sure to check tide levels and download an offline map.
- Check if the waterfall/swimming hole you’ll be visiting is open for swimming. Locations might be closed due to crocs or seasonal closures.
Have you been to any of these locations before? Do you have any travel tips? Do you know the name and location of the Unkown Waterfall. Please comment below.