|Romancing the falls at Litchfield National Park|
By Aswathy Kumar
At a mere 116 kms from Darwin, many prefer to take a day trip to this picturesque national park in Batchelor, a small town located south of Darwin. But we had done our research and seen some spectacular shots of this sprawling park (extending over 1500 square kms and original home of the Wagait Aboriginal people) and knew instantly that it well deserved more than just a day. From Kakadu, we reached Batchelor around early noon and our first stop was at a nearby convenience store to stock up on some basic supplies like eggs, bread, cereal, some instant noodles and frozen ready-to-eat food packets. There are no fancy restaurants or luxurious hotels in Litchfield and accommodations are minimalistic though comfortable. Since we were a rather spoilt Indian lot and not used to the basic outdoor campsites that were in plenty at Litchfield, we opted for a basic yet fully equipped cabin accommodation, a mere 30 minute drive to the famous park.
|Termite Mounds, Litchfield National Park|
As there was nothing too exciting to the rooms and there was no point lounging around; after a quick meal of some instant noodles, we immediately headed out to explore Litchfield, renowned for its tranquil waterfalls, scenic landscapes and romantic picnic spots. Our first stop was the Magnetic and Cathedral Termite Mounds, considered to be one of the most fascinating sights at the park. Here, you can witness over hundreds of perfectly aligned termite mounds, each extending up to almost 2 meters in height. We didn't have to pay any fees to witness this marvel, got to take some fantastic shots and my seven year old had a ball of a time pretending to be an alien in some strange planet.
The mounds were no doubt anything short of spectacular but nothing would have prepared me for what I was about to experience next. Now many a times especially in some crazy teen movie or chick flicks, have I seen crazy teenagers dive into plunge pools and push each other off from rocky ledges into the crystal waters. Never had I expected 30-something responsible parents like my husband and I or 60-something in-laws to act the same. We arrived at the Bully water-hole, one of the many places you are allowed to take a dip. (Many waterholes are considered unsafe due to crocodile sightings especially during rainy season). Though we had no bathing-suits on and was completely unprepared, it did not stop us from plunging into the blue and experiencing the strong gush of its forceful waters against our skin, push each other off from rocky platforms, all while enjoying the brilliant view of the stoney ledges and plush green forests surrounding the series of cascading water-falls and rock-holes. We were grateful that the campsite offered good toilet facilities and changing rooms to dry ourselves off before walking upstream to a next equally picturesque picnic spot, the Florence Falls.