Walker Creek Walk
Litchfield National Park
Directions - The first or last day hike in Litchfield, depending on which way you enter the park, Walker Creek is located 65km from the Cox Peninsula Road turnoff if approaching from the north. If coming via Batchelor then it is 75km along Litchfield Park Road once you turn off Rum Jungle Road.
The Hike - In what has become an annual tradition since our first trip to Darwin in 2019, Caris' side of the family like to take her grandmother on a winter trip to escape the cold Perth winter (and to also celebrate her birthday). For 2022, it was decided that Katherine would be the preferred destination and this presented an opportunity to explore nearby Nitmiluk National Park. With a half day of driving to get from Darwin to Katherine, Caris and I decided to make a side trip into Litchfield National Park to visit the remaining day walks that are accessible to 2WD cars.
Remembering the northern entry of Litchfield to be quite corrugated and only having a Toyota Corolla hire car for the trip, I decided to drive into Litchfield via the Batchelor end and so began a long drive from Darwin to reach the first of two walks for the day at Walker Creek. In hindsight, I would have come in via the northern entrance but no harm done. Having previously spent a day here in 2019 exploring four short walks, we didn't quite make it up to the northern end of the park to hike Walker Creek and The Cascades. Here to add them to the growing collection of hikes on the website (The NT now has it's own section thanks to this trip), we arrived at Walker Creek and found it to be busier than I was expecting, given it's not one of the "popular" hikes. As we would find out later, it seemed most of the tourists visiting the Northern Territory during school holidays were here at Litchfield today but it wasn't too bad at Walker Creek. This is an unusual walk trail in that it exists to service the eight walkers only campsites that are found along the side of Walker Creek.
These must be pre-booked and consist of a small platform and fire pit, usually next to a swimming hole or set of rapids. Loading up the backpack with water and grabbing my camera, we set off to find the start of the trail, located at the end of the car park. Taking note of the information board, we first went to check out the short side trail to the creek before joining the main trail as it headed towards the first two campsites that are close together. Crossing a metal bridge, this gives you a good look at Walker Creek and is a good spot to look for dragonflies, birds and fish that call the creek home. Heading up a small hill, you enter the savanna woodlands that were familiar thanks to the previous walks we had done in Litchfield. Looking down at the creek, there were flashes of deep green as the ferns love the constant supply of water along the creek. Eventually you reach a flatter area and here I was lucky to spot a White-breasted Woodswallow and an unusual flowering plant that turned out to be a Hibbertia dilatata, something I would not have picked as a Hibbertia until seeing it on an information board at The Cascades.
Arriving at the first two campsites, I was hoping to avoid the situation where you feel like you are intruding on any campers that may have setup shop for the evening. It's an awkward thing where as a camper I would expect for the most part to have that area to myself but as a walker, all the good spots worth seeing are right next to the campsites, so of course you want to see them. Luckily the first two campsites were empty so we could enjoy Rocky Falls and Sandy Bank without feeling like intruders. Rocky Falls is a pretty cool spot with a series of rapids flowing down from the campsite location but to get the good photos you need to skip over the rocky platform that Walker Creek flows over. Sandy Banks was a pleasant spot located not very far from Rocky Falls but we didn't linger as there was much more to explore. Walking along the fern lined trail between the campsite areas, I was delighted to spot a Drosera variety that made me think of home (even though they grow all over the world). Reaching Big Hole Campsite (#3), this is home to a nice swimming spot with a set of rapids upstream.
These rapids turned out to be located next to Shady Bend Campsite (#4) and what a lovely little spot this was. Overlooking the rapids, I can imagine this would be an idyllic spot to spend the night. Moving on, there is a linking trail up the stairs that takes you back to the main trail and we continued on towards the next campsite. Spotting a white flower growing from a Cycad, I initially thought this was a Cycad flower but was corrected by a nice user in the iNaturalist community that confirmed it was a White Butterfly Orchid. Leaving the savanna for a small section, you walk along a boardwalk as it crosses through a dense patch of monsoon rainforest lining a tributary of Walker Creek. It's a damp change and the drop in temperature was quite noticeable. Reaching Cycad Hill Campsite (#5), we made the small detour to see the unoccupied tent platform and found a local blocking the track a little further on. A Mertens' Water Monitor was sunning itself just past the platform and was keen to stay and pose for photos. After getting some nice shots, we left it alone and backtracked to where the main trail heads up a hill dominated by Cycads (as per the campsite name).