Shady Creek Walk | Florence Falls
Litchfield National Park
Directions - Located just over an hour south of Darwin, take Stuart Hwy south until you reach the turnoff for Batchelor Rd. Follow the Litchfield NP signs all the way through Batchelor and Rum Jungle until you reach Buley Florence Rd. The car park for the walk is at the end of this road.
The Hike - With a family trip to Darwin planned as part of Caris' grandmother's 90th birthday, there was time set away for visiting the popular Litchfield National Park, located just over an hour south of the Northern Territory's capital city. Our second last day in the NT was chosen as the date and with a convoy of two cars we all loaded up and drove out to the agreed meeting point near Batchelor, the closest town to the park. Being the dry season, the temperature would be a pleasant 31C with little to no chance of rain expected. Unfortunately that means it is peak tourist season so we would be joined by the masses at each stop as evidenced in the photos (even though I was very selective). With some morning tea refreshments under our belt at the Litchfield Tourist Park we headed off to the first of a few stops during the day, Florence Falls (via the Magnetic Termite Mounds).
The layout of Litchfield National Park creates a situation where the majority of tourists will congregate at roughly the same places at the same times. The main sealed road leading through the park does a bit of a loop and exits to the north (via a section of unsealed road) so if you're coming from the Batchelor end, it makes sense to stop at the first attraction and keep going instead of having to double back. As we followed this particular itinerary, it meant that most of our stops were with the masses and at times it got quite crowded. After checking out the Magnetic Termite Mounds (well worth a stop) we had a bit of trouble getting a park at the Florence Falls car park. After circling around for a bit we found one and met the rest of the group to discuss a plan of action. As Grannam had just turned 90 and it was warm, she wasn't too keen on doing any hikes so while she went to the lookout, those of us that wanted to take in the short walk (Candy, Hal, Caris and myself) took the opportunity to start. There is a 1.7km loop here that takes you from the car park, along Florence Creek, up on the open savanna and then down through the monsoon forest along Shady Creek towards Florence Falls. Away from the car park it unsurprisingly got a lot quieter as the majority of people just do the there and back part of the walk to the falls for a swim.
The path here was nicely constructed with a stone walkway paving the way along the creek and up through the dry grass areas. A small bridge over the creek provides a nice shaded area to stop and check the water for life before moving on to the highest part of the walk. Open savanna woodlands dominate this part before the trail starts heading down into the monsoon forest below. Spotting a few wildflowers, the mid morning sun was nice to feel as we admired the dry landscape. With the trail heading down into the greener forest, the feel of the walk changed dramatically in a very short time. While the sun was still poking through in places, the sound of rushing water and lush forest made for a very wet feel, something I was enjoying. Unfortunately for this time of year, the chance of cloud cover is next to nil so the sun creates a not very nice combination of bright light and dark shadows, not fantastic for photography. The contrast occurs in real life but your eyes are much better than a camera for adjusting to the conditions so the photos don't really do the place justice.