Which is the better national park – Kakadu or Litchfield? This question has been the subject of lively debate in pubs and campground kitchens across the Top End for decades, ever since Litchfield was opened as a park in 1986. It’s a tough argument as both have spectacular natural wonders that attract about the same number of visitors, around 260,000 annually. But, at the risk of upsetting those who hold a contrary view, I’m going to suggest that Litchfield might well be the better destination for many travellers, for several very good reasons.
Litchfield National Park is close to Darwin, only about 120 km from the CBD; it’s small, only 1,500 sq. km or less than 1/12th the size of Kakadu; its main attractions are therefore closer together; they’re easy to get to on a sealed road at any time of year, so you don’t need a 4WD to reach them; its size and accessibility mean that you spend less time driving and more time sightseeing; and many sights are accessible by relatively short walks, on well maintained paths and boardwalks, close to pools and watercourses where you can swim without fear of becoming a meal for a saltwater croc.
Whichever side of the debate you’re on, no serious trip to the Northern Territory would be complete without spending some time in this tropical wilderness wonderland. Exactly how much time depends on your itinerary. Being so close to Darwin, Litchfield can be easily visited on a day trip from the city, but it would be a very full day and you would be hard pressed to see all the sights that must be seen. While travelling through the Top End with a group of four wheel-driving buddies, we allocated the best part of four days in Litchfield and still didn’t achieve everything we wanted to experience. But we gave it a pretty fair shake.