Litchfield and Mary River National Parks. New Territories

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Fri 3 Oct 2008 18:27

We had signed up for a three day luxury camping tour of Kakadu National Park with Odyssey Tours in Darwin. But 24 hours before our due departure, I discovered the tour was “off”. They didn’t even bother to tell us, so it was only because I was chasing them to organise a pick up from the marina that we found out!


So we got in touch with Adventure Tours Australia, and booked the nearest “package” that they had to the one that was cancelled.


They were very organised and efficient, and as a bonus the trip cost nearly half as much as the original one. We were of course to find out why it was so much cheaper later on……………………..


We were met by Leah our tour guide and driver, at 0615 outside the Marina, for the start of our three day adventure. The tour “bus” was one that was definitely designed to do the business when it came to Off Road work.




This was based on a Mitsubishi 4WD truck platform, with a locally fabricated “coach body”. This had its own independent suspension in addition to the trucks suspension. So it made for a remarkably comfortable ride on some VERY lumpy terrain for the 12 passengers it could accommodate. In addition to luggage storage, it also carried load of water, diesel, and full tools and catering equipment. Not to mention vital spare wheels…………………..On the tarmac roads it would comfortably cruise along at 140kph.  Which was just as well as we had to cover a massive mileage in three days. Just to put that in context, Kakadu National Park (days 2 &3 of the tour) is the size of Belgium! It is the second largest NP in Australia, next to Arnhem Lands NP.


Once all the other passengers had been collected in down town Darwin, we headed  off to Litchfield National Park, which was a relatively short drive away.  We were an interesting mix of people. A Swiss University Professor who had just finished a lecture tour in Sydney. A Dutch couple in their late 60’s (who had no idea what they had booked). Then a bunch of 20 something’s, mostly German with one Canadian Girl and a Danish Engineer and us. Eleven in total.


Litchfield’s main attraction is the river and the spectacular water falls.


    Litchfield Falls from the observation platform


Although this is the dry season in the New Territories, this river runs all year round because the water is absorbed in to the sand stone during the 4 month wet season and is then slowly released during the summer. So this area is relatively luxuriant even in the height of summer.


I can’t remember how high these fall are but as you will see from the picture below, the water lands on the pool below with considerable force…………….


    “Take my breath away……………..”


There is also a mini maelstrom of wind at the base of the cliff. The water in this pool was mercifully cooling on what was a stifling hot and muggy day. The only minor issue here was the fact that it was the weekend and so the swimming area was packed with locals and tourists all taking a dip. Lovely experience though, and the first off several swimming opportunities to come over the next thee days.


After the swim, we headed up the pathway and then climbed the steel staircase to the top of the gorge and onto the observation platform. On the way up there, in the shade of the trees and boulders we spied the rare Rock Wallabies. These are only 9 or 10inches tall. But perfectly formed. Very timid and quite adorable. But as they blend in with their surroundings, they are well camouflaged. So they were impossible to photograph with ordinary camera gear. Flying overhead were Kites (look a bit like the Buzzards we get in Devon) and many small birds were in amongst the trees.


Along the way Leah gave us a talk about the flora and fauna and the way the Aboriginal people use their natural properties to advantage in hunting, medicines and other areas.  Like one of the trees (Bankous) has a leaf which when crushed releases Sateen’s. These act like soap, and also when enough of them are thrown into the water, they reduce the oxygen levels. So the fish come to the surface to get air…onto the waiting spears of the hunters.


We then all piled back into the bus for a short hp to the next water fun. The rapids above the falls. This was a series of cascading pools and rapids and although the sand stone was quite treacherous due to the green slime below the water, it was once again a very nice sensation just to sit in your own personal Jacuzzi, in the outback!


  Cooling off in the sun…38°C and high humidity



As you can see “crew” was just lapping this up!! 


Now at this point I was going to do a bit about the Mary River National Park. But……………………….this was a simply wonderful sub-trip and so I took rather a lot of pictures. Which I  could not squeeze in here without being utterly brutal from an editing stand point. So to do it justice I will do another blog entry for Mary River in its own right. 


To follow soon………………..


Oh, on our way to Kupang in West Timor, Indonesia, 11:12:84S 126:15:47E