This summer, my family and I visited Darwin, Australia. One of the hallmarks of our trip was our visit to Litchfield National Park, a two-hour drive away from Darwin. It’s known most for its natural attractions Wangi Falls, Florence Falls, and Buley Rockhole, all of which visitors can swim in. The afternoon we were on the Litchfield Escapes tour, we planned on hitting up all three.
We drove to Wangi Falls first, where we came upon two waterfalls around 52 meters high cascading into the vast, clear waters of the pool. To reach the bottom of the falls you had to swim the length of the pool, about 50 meters wide.
For those not inclined to swim, there’s the Wangi Falls Walk just around the corner, a scenic hike approximately 1.6 km long that takes you to the top of the falls for stunning views. About 10 meters into the walk, there’s a beautiful, unencumbered platform people can take photos of Wangi Falls from. Of course, my sister and scurried over there first for a photo op before joining the rest of our family in the plunge pool.
My parents were a little apprehensive about swimming towards the falls because along the trail we had come across a sign that warned about crocodiles. However, we had been assured by locals and tour guides that sightings were extremely rare and that park rangers checked the pool every hour to make sure there were none.
Besides, there were tourists underneath the falls, even a family of four with two toddlers – if they could reach the other side unscathed, why couldn’t I? (This is the type of thinking that my parents and grandparents say will get me killed.)
The cool waters were an inviting escape from the high 28-degree weather, and the view of the falls was mesmerizing. The tour company provided swimming noodles so I took mine and froggy-kicked my way through as little black fish swum around me. The falls grew larger as I swam nearer, and about three meters away I could feel the coarse droplets ricochet from the surface of the waters and onto my cheeks. From afar, the falls already looked majestic, but up-close they looked grand. I felt small beneath them, but it made me admire the sight even more.
I lingered there for a while, looking up at how effortlessly the water fell. There’s that quote from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, “And in that moment, I swear we were infinite” – that’s how I felt. As I headed back onto land, I swam belly-side up to gaze up at where the sky met the top of the falls. I took a mental snapshot before slowly making my way back to the grounds.
Lunch was a make-your-own-tortilla kind of thing, provided by the tour operator, which wasn’t the kind of meal my family is used to but I didn’t really mind. I was thankful for the food, and even more grateful to be able to see the majestic wonder of the falls. We headed back onto the bus afterwards, and made our way towards Florence Falls.