Litchfield National Park Eco Day Tour with Ethical Adventures
This Litchfield National Park tour from Darwin will introduce you to the age-old splendour of Litchfield National Park on a fabulous full day out from the Northern Territory capital. Experience the best of this famous Top End landscape, including the chance to swim in pristine creeks and water holes. Your qualified eco-friendly Aussie guide will share their extensive knowledge of the region and prepare a traditional Aussie BBQ for lunch. Duration: 11 hours (approx.)
Best price guarantee: If you find this tour elsewhere at a cheaper price, we will beat it by 10%. Some conditions apply. There are no booking or credit card fees when you book this tour with The Big Bus tour and travel guide.
It’s an early start and the air’s cool chill makes me wonder if I’ll be ready for a dip at Berry Springs Nature Park in less than an hour’s time.
Welcomed aboard the comfortable 11-seater bus by Ethical Adventures’ owner and tour guide Rob Woods, I ride shotgun to pick up today’s group from their Darwin accommodation. There’s a couple from New Zealand, another from China, and the rest are southern-dwelling Aussies.
Ethical Adventures’ Litchfield National Park eco day tour offers guests the chance to enjoy one of the Top End’s most famous landscapes in a responsible way. Heading out of town Rob tells us more about the company’s ethos and explains the plan for the day. He also recounts stories from Darwin’s history, including the bombing of Darwin Harbour in World War II and Cyclone Tracy in 1974. We hear about local historic notables such as Amy Johnson, the first female to fly solo from London to Darwin.
Before long we pull into the Berry Springs Nature Park car park (on the wet season version of this tour guests visit the Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve instead). Rob points out the amenities and invites us all to meet him at ‘Rob’s swim up café’ for a coffee and freshly homemade mango muffin while we soak in Berry Springs’ geothermal waters.
I wait for a fellow traveller to brave the water first, always wary of the presence of the Top End’s feared saltwater crocodile. However, Berry Springs has been cleared for swimming by authorities and cautiously I dip my toes in the warm waters before sliding into the shallows and heading for the small waterfall opposite. It’s heaven, and we have the place all to ourselves.
Watch our video of this experience:
Welcome to The Big Bus tour and travel guide. Travelling to Australia’s amazing Top End? In this video we join Darwin-based tour company Ethical Adventures on a fabulous day trip to stunning Litchfield National Park. The park is home to many incredibly beautiful natural landscapes and Ethical Adventures’ owner/operator Rob Woods shares his amazing knowledge of the region with guests throughout the tour.
After our dip we stroll with Rob further downstream. Along the way he points out monsoon forest vegetation, demonstrates tricks to make an archerfish spit water, and reassures us about potential crocodilian inhabitants!
As we jump back on board the bus, Rob announces that we need to change seats. ‘Company policy and everyone gets to know everyone’, he encourages. ‘You might learn something new!’
After much chin-wagging, punctuated by Rob’s interesting commentary, we arrive at the sleepy town of Batchelor. Rob says most tourists don’t give it a second glance on their way through to Litchfield. It’s their loss. Aside from being a major staging point for allied activities during World War II, Batchelor was put on the map during the heyday of the nearby Rum Jungle uranium mine. The mine closed in 1971, but we learn more about it and the town’s war history at the two-building community museum. I want to stay longer and read all the exhibit information properly, and watch the 45-minute video ‘The Battle for Australia’, but the smells of a scrumptious BBQ lunch beckon.
While we’ve been musing over the galleries and exhibits, Rob has cooked up a storm and set up a table for us to enjoy lunch: buffalo sausages and marinated kangaroo, accompanied by fresh garden and pasta salads. Local bush food condiments round out the menu, along with a juicy mandarin for dessert.
Tummies full, we swap seats again and continue on to Litchfield National Park. Our first stop is the park’s famous termite mounds. Litchfield, and indeed much of the Northern Territory, is full of termite mounds (look for some comically dressed like people along the roadside!). Rob introduces us to two varieties: the ‘cathedral’, on account of its cathedral-like resemblance; and the ‘magnetic’, skinny and flat structures running in a north-south direction (hence their name). These were initially mistaken for tombstones by early explorers.
With the early morning chill long gone, the sun’s heat bites and we seek refuge under shady trees while wandering between the mounds. Rob produces some thirst-quenching icy poles to enjoy before we do another seat change and make a beeline to Wangi Falls.
It’s much busier here than at our previous stops and we’re relieved when Rob says the other tour buses will leave shortly. Then, on cue, tour guides starting rounding up their large groups. I zip off for a quick hike to the top of the twin waterfalls before cooling off in the refreshing waters below. There is something mesmerising about floating beneath the cascading waters. I could stay here for hours!
In yet another seat, we munch frozen orange pieces for the quick drive to our afternoon-tea stop. ‘Who likes swamps?’ queries Rob. Uncertain how to respond, we remain silent. Rob tries again, ‘who likes wetlands?’ This time everyone nods. ‘Great — well, we’re going to Tabletop Swamp. Think of it as wetlands!’ He believes ‘wetlands’ is just a fancy name for a swamp and that this Litchfield favourite will provide opportunities to spot birds, listen to their calls and unwind in the tranquil setting. We head off to explore while he prepares iced tea and wattle seed homemade cookies.
We clamber back on board for the last seat change of the day and the final stop on this Litchfield National Park eco day tour: stunning Florence Falls. It’s an easy walk to the falls lookout, and Rob pauses along the way to explain the traditional Aboriginal uses for various plants. We’re shown edible berries, lemon myrtle, a tree with leaves that act like soap and another with leaves like sandpaper to help smooth spears and other wooden implements.
After our 11-hour adventure, we return to Darwin much wiser about the park’s environment. Rob’s knowledge, personal engagement and tour design are all amazing. Each tour is tailored to the group on the day, so you might enjoy rock hopping between Buley Rockholes and Florence Falls, or a cooling dip in other waterholes. Whatever you see and do, this tour will enhance your appreciation of the region’s unique character and ecology.
Monica travelled as a guest of Ethical Adventures.
Additional images: Bigstock
Monica McInnes is a keen traveller and is always on the lookout for her next big adventure — even before the current one has concluded! Having recently returned from a three-month road trip with her young family through the Red Centre, the Kimberley, the Pilbara and along the Coral Coast, Monica is convinced that Australia is the most beautiful country on earth. She blogs about her travel exploits at Jiggety Jog.