Listopedia: The Top End’s Best Watering Holes
Yes, you can swim in the Northern Territory. Despite what popular culture might tell you (Crocodile Dundee, we mean you), the Top End is full of beautiful waterholes, waterfalls, gorges, springs and pools that are safe to swim in. Yes, you do need to be careful to check signs and warnings, but use this Listopedia to cool off in some of the world’s coolest places.
Buley Rockhole, Litchfield National Park – slip and slide
Nature’s very own slip and slide awaits at this famous rockhole. Located inside Litchfield National Park, an hour and a half’s drive from Darwin, the rockhole is made up of a series of small cascading waterfalls that flow down the rock face into bigger pools of clear water. Start up high and slide your way down the gentle slope, just don’t wear your favourite white swimming costume. Locals head down on weekends with picnics, cooling their drinks in the falls, where the water gives you a nice free back massage, before finding shade among the trees lining the water. The rockhole is one of the most easily accessible waterholes in Litchfield, with a car park just a hundred metres away.
Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park – hidden hotspot
The 160 steps down to the bottom of Florence Falls take you through the bush into what feels like a hidden oasis. The double falls plunge down into a mid sized rock pool where you can cool off swimming in their shadow. Expect to see young and old frolicking in the water.
Edith Falls, Nitmiluk National Park – big and beautiful
If you’re heading down to Katherine Gorge, make time to stop in at Leliyn. More commonly known as Edith Falls, this dramatic waterhole will take your breath away. More of a giant natural pool than a water hole, Leliyn is surrounded by paperbark trees and lush palms so it’s not until you’re up close that you can see its full beauty. The waterhole is often the final stop for hikers completing the Jatbula Trail – celebrate with a dip and lunch at the Leliyn kiosk. The barramundi burgers are legendary and you can’t beat a good old fashioned milkshake.
Berry Springs Nature Park – local secret
Most first timer Top End travellers will spend a day hopping around Litchfield’s waterholes, but they’re missing out. Berry Springs is largely a local’s secrets. Just an hour’s drive from Darwin, the Springs are actually on the way to Litchfield. Locals pack their cars and picnic baskets early because these springs are the perfect spot for a lazy day swimming in the shade of pandanas fronds. The natural springs flow into three pools connected by little creeks. Start at one end and paddle all the way down to the largest pool, where you’ll see fresh water fish swimming about.
Wave Lagoon – perfect for kids
If you’re staying down in Darwin’s Waterfront precinct, the Wave Lagoon is a great spot for an afternoon swim after a long day sightseeing. You’ll see kids and parents alike bobbing around on floaties or catching waves with boogie boards, from 10am until 6pm. The admission price is just $7 for adults and $5 for kids.
Wildman Wilderness Lodge – luxe out
When you’ve been out exploring Kakadu National Park, or cruising around this luxury lodge’s private billabong, a dip in the infinity pool is the cherry on top. Looking straight out at the bush, this pool is practically an oasis in the desert, and is the best spot to watch sunset. The local Agile Wallabies like to come out and hop around the termite mounds as dusk falls so grab your swimmers, your camera and a bottle of sparkling to cool off for one of the most pleasant ways to wildlife watch.
Casuarina Coastal Reserve – get active
Darwin locals get up early to beat the heat – you’ll find them out walking at the Waterfront or down on the along the waterfront in Casuarina. You’ll also find them paddleboarding off the beach. Okay so they’re not necessarily swimming, but this is a great spot to get out on the water.
Darwin Lagoon – lap time
Why spend time in your hotel pool when you could work up a sweat swimming laps in Darwin’s Waterfront? The lagoon is protected by a manmade sea wall, with mesh netting to keep stinging jellyfish out of the bay. A small sandy beach is great for paddlers too. After a long day riding the waves, check in to the Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront, which sits right behind the lagoon. It has its own pool too, just in case you haven’t had enough!
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