Batchelor, Buley Hole and Wangi Falls
The Final destination in our loop through the top end in our Maui Motorhome was Litchfield Park. Just 80 minutes south of Darwin, close enough for a day-trippers and 244km north of Katherine straight up the Stuart Highway.
14kms off the Stuart Highway the small township of Batchelor is the gateway to Litchfield Park. Made up of a couple of pubs, a Best Western Hotel, small supermarket, fuel, Post office and 3 holiday parks, Batchelor is also home to the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education . The Batchelor airport, a former World War II airstrip offers scenic flights of the Park starting from $99 for a short flight.
As is the way in remote Australia there’s always an unexpected surprise to be found in the most extraordinary of locations and Batchelor is no exception. At the heart of this small township you’ll come across a model of Karlstein Castle, the original which still stands in Bohemia. Built by a former resident, Czech born Bernie Havlik, the model castle sits atop a large rocky outcrop that Bernie’s gardening crew found difficult to maintain and keep tidy so Bernie came up with an alternative solution which still stands over 25 years later.
For our Litchfield Park base we chose the Big4 Batchelor Camper Park. This lush picturesque campervan park is set amongst shady gums in the heart of Batchelor and guarantees you awake in the morning to a cacophony of bird song. Recently taken over by new owners, the rejuvenation of this Big4 park is a work in progress but all the basics are covered with pool – all be it a bit basic and plastic, good showers and washing machines. Shame you required a dollar coin to operate the BBQ however perhaps Jabiru and Katherine spoilt us.
A concrete pathway leads from the holiday park across to the Best Western Hotel which offers accommodation, bar, bottle shop, bar-bistro and restaurant, giving the chance for a chef’s night off.
We headed into Litchfield Park early the next morning, first stop was the Magnetic Termite Mound fields. Looking like Antony Gormley sculptures, these termite mounds stretch into the distance in both directions and offer a great photoshot.
Next stop was Buley Rock Pool. BIG Tip here is to arrive as early as possible – this is a beautiful series of rock pools, deep enough to bomb and jump into but popular and can become quite busy. These pools are all safe to swim in during the Dry Season being Salt water crocodile free.
You can continue down the road to Florence Falls for more swimming – we toured the car park there and decided the number of coaches, cars and campers meant too many people and headed on to Wanggi.
If you needed just one reason to visit Litchfield Park Wangi Falls is it. 64kms from Batchelor, the Falls cascade down 51 metres into a huge deep pool surrounded by lush trees full of bird life and sleeping flying foxes. The Pool is totally safe to swim in during the Dry season and thoroughly checked by Park Rangers for salties at the end of the Wet Season in March/April before being open to the public.
Despite its popularity the sheer size of the pool ensures there is room for everyone. During our visit US Marines on leave from training in the Territory explored the Falls in their own way by scaling the cliffs and jumping 10 metres into the Pool. Not recommended and much against the Park Rules.
We spent much of the afternoon at the Falls before heading back to Batchelor for our final night.
The drive back to Darwin was quck and easy with a coffee stop and top up with diesel (rental companies charge a premium if you return a vehicle without a full tank). Other things to remember to do prior to dropping of your campervan is to empty the toilet cartridge and waste water. The drop-off process was all done and dusted in 15 minutes and we were in a taxi for the airport before we knew it.
We elected to fly home with a grown-up airline, Qantas, great service, seats, leg room, food and drinks you didn’t have to pay for and entertainment. Cost more but worth every cent.
Great time, great trip, big country!
We travelled the Top End at the end of the Dry Season in September with a 6 berth Motorhome from Maui. You can discover more about renting a motorhome in Darwin and the Northern Territory on the DriveNow website.