The drive from Darwin to Litchfield National Park is one of the most popular day trips from Darwin. It is a spectacular National Park with waterfalls, rockpools, fields of termite mounds and beautiful walks through savannah and monsoon forests.
This guide to the Darwin to Litchfield drive explains the best route to get there, attractions you can see on the way, how much time you need, and the best time to get to the attractions.
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- Darwin to Litchfield Drive FAQs
- Getting to Litchfield from Darwin
- Darwin to Litchfield Drive Attractions
- Litchfield Attractions
- Berry Springs Attractions
Darwin to Litchfield Drive FAQs
Getting to Litchfield from Darwin
There are a couple of ways to get to Litchfield National Park from Darwin. You can either go via Berry Springs to the western entrance or you can enter the park from Batchelor and Rum Jungle. Both routes get you onto Litchfield Park Road which is the access point to most of Litchfield’s attractions.
If you are based in Darwin and just going to Litchfield for the day, doing a loop drive is a good way to go.
Does it matter which way you should do the circuit? There isn’t a huge distance between the main attractions in Litchfield but here are a couple of things to keep in mind.
Why we go to Litchfield via Batchelor
Buley Rockhole is a beautiful and popular spot to visit. It can become a busy from late morning and while you can swim here, the rock pools can get crowded. For a more serene experience we recommend getting here early in the day. If it is your first stop, it is 10 -15 minutes quicker to get here via Batchelor.
Another place that is better at a certain time of day is Tolmer Falls. You can’t swim here but if you like getting a nice picture the light is much better in the second half of the day. From mid-afternoon the sun shines on the rugged cliffs either side of the falls. For this reason, the Batchelor first route also works better.
Wangi Falls are also very popular but unlike Buley Rockhole there is a lot more room for a swim. But if you want to beat the day tour buses from Darwin you will also want to come here first thing. If this is the case, coming from the Berry Springs is quicker.
Darwin to Litchfield Drive Attractions
No matter which direction you come to Litchfield National Park from, there are lots of attractions both in the park and on the way there. We did the loop to Litchfield via Batchelor so that is the direction we have described here.
Howard Springs Nature Park
🚙 Darwin to Howard Springs Nature Park 30km, 27 minutes
If you are focussed on getting to Litchfield, a look around Howard Springs Nature Park might be an activity you do from Darwin another day. But if you have time on your back to Darwin it is a beautiful spot to look around. On the walk across the weir, you might spot water monitors, turtles and all sorts of fish, including barramundi, in the main pond.
There is a swimming pool for toddlers and a custom built rock pool if you want somewhere to cool off. The picnic grounds and playgrounds make it a lovely family spot. The short Howard Creek walk is a lot of fun for nature lovers too. See if you can spot the colourful but elusive Rainbow Pitta bird.
Find out more about Howard Springs in our detailed guide
🚙 Darwin to Noonamah 44km, 36 minutes
This is one where you need to be in the right place at the right time. But, if you happen to be in Darwin in August, Noonamah hosts the Noonamah Tavern Rodeo. For city slickers, it is a sight to behold. Even if you miss the rodeo, the Noonamah Tavern is a great spot for a cool drink on your back to Darwin from Litchfield. There is also accommodation at the Noonamah Tourist Park if you want to stay a bit out of Darwin.
Strauss Air Strip Historic Site
🚙Darwin to Strauss Airstrip 45km, 38 minutes
There is no shortage of incredible World War II military history around Darwin. That doesn’t stop as you drive south toward Litchfield National Park. One of the most interesting sites to have a look at between Darwin and Litchfield is the Strauss Airstrip. There is some interesting signage, model P-40 Kittyhawks and the chance to stare down the runway. It is an easy stop next to the main road. It is on the same side of the highway returning from Litchfield.
Manton Dam Wall
🚙 Darwin to Manton Dam Wall 65km, 48 minutes
The Manton Dam was constructed between 1939 -1941 and provided water to Darwin until the Darwin River Dam came online in the mid-1970s. You can look around the area and get nice views across the water from the dam wall.
We mucked up and decided to do this on our way back to Darwin from Litchfield, but the gates were locked by the time we came back through. If you want a look around, do it on your way to Litchfield or you might have to save it for another day.
Manton Dam Recreation Area
🚙 Darwin to Manton Dam Recreation Area 74km, 55 minutes
We might have missed the Manton Dam Wall, but we did do a quick stop here. The recreation area is a 3km – 4km drive off the Stuart Highway but it is a lovely spot. The early morning sun made the whole pace glow and the views over the water were spectacular. There were lots of birds around too. If we were not on a mission to get to Litchfield we would have stayed longer. Worth a look if you have time.
🚙 Darwin to Batchelor 97km, 68 minutes
Batchelor is regarded as the gateway to Litchfield National Park. From Batchelor it is about 15 minutes to the eastern entrance of Litchfield National Park. If you are going to Litchfield from Darwin for the day, you might not have time to look around this small town. A lot of people base themselves here for trips into Litchfield and then you also get to see the town’s attractions. It is a good spot to grab a few supplies before going into the park.
Things to do in Batchelor include:
- The Batchelor Butterfly and Animal Farm – a nice family activity.
- Batchelor Museum – loads of information on indigenous history and the impact agriculture, World War 2 and mining has had in the area.
- Karlstein Castle – this amazing replica was built by a retired Czech worker from the Rum Jungle uranium mine.
🚙 Darwin to Rum Jungle 107km, 80 minutes
Rum Jungle came to fame as the site of a uranium mine between 1954-1971. Today it is home to the NT Adventure Park where you can ride quad bikes through the forest, and they have a water park coming too.
Just out of Rum Jungle you’ll see the Zebra Stone Gallery. You can pop in and see how this beautiful rock is turned into jewellery and try their amazing scones. Zebra Stone is open every day and worth a look on your in or out of Litchfield.
From Rum Jungle you are on your way into Litchfield National Park. We have listed off the best attractions in the order you will come to them driving in from Batchelor and suggest how long you might need at each.
Magnetic Termite Mounds
🚙 Distance from Darwin via Batchelor – 133km, 1 hour 39 minutes
🚙 Distance from Darwin via Berry Springs – 159km, 1 hour 57 minutes
🕒 Allow 10 – 30 minutes to look around the Magnetic Termite Mounds
Best seen in the morning with the sun shining down the floodplain, the dozens of towering north – south aligned mounds is an amazing sight. A short boardwalk right next to the carpark provides great views. On the other side of the carpark there is another short boardwalk around the Cathedral Termite Mound. You can see the termites going about their business in the 50 year old mound.
🚙 Distance from Darwin via Batchelor – 142kmkm, 1 hour 46 minutes
🚙 Distance from Darwin via Berry Springs – 156km, 1 hour 57 minutes
🕒 Allow 30 – 60 minutes for Buley Rockhole or 2+ hours if you walk to Florence Falls
This is a series of crystal clear swimming holes surrounded by monsoon forest and colourful rocks. It is a stunning swimming spot and a popular place to cool off. It is a 500m walk from the carpark to the upper rockpools. There is a loop walk that takes you down Florence Creek to the lower rockpools and back to the carpark where there are toilets and picnic facilities. From Buley Rockhole you can also do a 3.2km return walk to nearby Florence Falls.
🚙 Distance from Darwin via Batchelor – 144km, 1 hour 47 minutes
🚙 Distance from Darwin via Berry Springs – 157km, 2 hours
🕒 Allow 30 – 90 minutes for Florence Falls, or 2+ hours if you walk to Buley Rockhole
Florence Falls are next door to Buley Rockhole along the same sealed access road. From the carpark it is 120m to the lookout for great views of the twin falls. A 430m walk (including 135 steps) takes you to the Florence Falls Plunge Pool where you can go for a swim. From the plunge pool, the 1km Shady Creek Walk is a lovely way to get back to the carpark. Look out for lots of bird and butterflies.
Central Valley – Lost City Rocks
🚙 Distance from Darwin via Batchelor – 146kmkm, 1 hour 44 minutes to the turn off
🚙 Distance from Darwin via Berry Springs – 150km, 1 hour 148 minutes to the turn off
🕒 Allow 1.5 – 2.5 hours from the turn off to the Lost City & back to Litchfield Park Road
This is one for 4WDs only. The second half of the 10km track can be rough, the track is closed in the wet season. But if you can get in, it is worth the drive to see one of the most impressive sites in Litchfield National Park. Resembling the remains of an ancient city, you can explore the sandstone pillars on a short loop walk through the landscape.
Read More – Camping Options at Litchfield National Park
🚙 Distance from Darwin via Batchelor – 139km, 1 hour 44 minutes
🚙 Distance from Darwin via Berry Springs – 159km, 1 hour 58 minutes
🕒 Allow 30 – 75 minutes to look around Tolmer Falls
Tolmer Falls are at their best in the second half of the day when the sun is hitting the water and cliffs. From the carpark it is an easy 500m return walk to a viewing deck but the views here aren’t great. Go to the main lookout, an 800m return walk, for the best views of the falls. On your way back you can do the 1.5km Tolmer Creek loop to see more of the landscape and lots of birdlife.
- Litchfield Falls & Jumping Crocodiles Full Day Trip from Darwin with Champagne Lunch
- Litchfield National Park Day Tour from Darwin with Florence Falls, Wangi Falls, Buley Rockhole + Adelaide River Croc Spotting
Greenant Creek & Tjaetaba Falls
🚙 Distance from Darwin via Batchelor – 156km, 1 hour 56 minutes
🚙 Distance from Darwin via Berry Springs – 136km, 1 hour 41 minutes
🕒 Allow 30 – 90 minutes for Greenant Creek, 90 minutes if you walk to Tjaetaba Falls
The main feature is the medium difficulty 2.7km return walk to Tjaetaba Falls. It takes you through monsoon forest and savannah bushland to a pretty set of falls. The track climbs to the top of the falls where you can swim. Swimming is not allowed below the falls. It is a fun walk for wildlife watchers, keep an eye out for the green ants on trees near the creek.
🚙 Distance from Darwin via Batchelor – 157km, 1 hour 56 minutes
🚙 Distance from Darwin via Berry Springs – 135km, 1 hour 38 minutes
🕒 Allow 1 – 3 hours depending on how far you go and track conditions
This is another 4WD only adventure. Reynolds Track features the historic Blyth Homestead (7km in), Tjaynera Falls (9km in) and Surprise Creek (27km). The highlight is at the end of the track. Surprise Creek Falls offers a beautiful rockpool experience. If you are happy to do some rock hopping up the rock face, your reward will likely be your own private plunge pool and sensational views.
- 4WD Litchfield Day Tour – Swim at Buley Rockhole, Visit Lost City & Sandy Creek
- 3-Day Kakadu & Litchfield 4WD Camping Adventure from Darwin – Explore the best of both Kakadu & Litchfield. Twin shared safari tent or a traditional bush swag
🚙 Distance from Darwin via Batchelor – 165km, 2 hour 4 minutes
🚙 Distance from Darwin via Berry Springs – 130km, 1 hour 36 minutes
🕒 Allow 1 – 2 hours to have a swim and walk around Wangi Falls
Wangi Falls are one of the most popular attractions at Litchfield. The waterfalls look great. There is a big, easy to access swimming area. The moderate 1.7km Wangi Loop Walk goes up and over the falls and includes the Treetop Deck with views of the forest canopy and a Falls Viewing Platform. There is a café, picnic area and campground. Also keep an eye out for flying foxes and black kites.
Read our Detailed Guide on Waterfalls & Waterholes at Litchfield
🚙 Distance from Darwin via Batchelor – 169km, 2 hour 6 minutes
🚙 Distance from Darwin via Berry Springs – 124km, 1 hour 32 minutes
🕒 Allow 1.5 – 3 hours if you do either of the walks and have a swim
The Cascades has a picnic area, walks and swimming spots. There are return hikes on the Upper and Lower Cascades Tracks ranging from 2.6 – 3.3km. Both are rated as medium – difficult and access can be limited in the wet season. The Lower Track goes along the creek to Curtain Falls. The Upper track is more exposed. It finishes at the Upper Cascades where you can go for a well-earned swim.
Berry Springs Attractions
If you leave Litchfield National Park through the west entrance, you return to Darwin via Berry Springs. There are a couple of fun things to do in Berry Springs, one you might squeeze in, another you won’t but it’s worth knowing it is there for next time. It is less than 60 minutes from Darwin to Berry Springs which makes a visit here a good day trip.
Berry Springs Nature Park
🚙 Darwin to Berry Springs 42km, 49 minutes
Much like Howard Springs at the start of the road trip, Berry Springs Nature Park is probably a spot you might struggle to fit in on your day trip to Litchfield. It is worth coming back though. Unlike Howard Springs, you can swim here, and the swimming holes are stunning.
The water is crystal clear and there is lots of room. There is a nice walk around the springs and a grassy picnic and BBQ area. It would be a lovely spot to finish your Litchfield trip if you are returning to Darwin via Berry Springs.
Plan your Visit to Berry Springs Nature Park
Territory Wildlife Park
🚙 Darwin to Territory Wildlife Park 43km, 50 minutes
This is just a shout out because there is no way you are fitting in a visit in to the Territory Wildlife Park on the same day you are driving around Litchfield. This is a fantastic wildlife park, but it is big and there is a lot to see. The free flight bird show is excellent and there are lots of other fun exhibits and keeper talks to get to. It is right next door to Berry Springs, so you could combine a visit to both on another day.
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