Water Monitor: An exhilarating Litchfield National Park Christmas adventure!

Keen to know what other creature from the animal kingdom Norther has in store for you today??? Come on, leeeet’s goooooo!

On the third day of Christmas, Norther brought to me a sneaky water monitor.

And an exhilarating Litchfield National Park (Litchy) adventure! 

Water Monitor in Litchfield National Park

COMMON NAME: Mertens Water Monitor 

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Varanus mertensi

TYPE: lizard

DIET: Frogs, fish, crabs, small birds, eggs and insects. 

SIZE: Up to 1m

The Mertens Water Monitor also known as Varanus Mertensi loooooves being in the water. When you come to Litchfield National Park, be sure to not miss this awesome lizard! You can spot these magnificent creatures basking in the sun or swimming in many of Litchy’s small creeks. They are always exploring their surroundings, so keep your camera handy! Snap snap snap!

What do the Mertens Water Monitor Lizard look like?

They have neutral, earthy colouration that is perfect for camouflaging from predators or prey. Which is sooo cool! You might even mistake them for a rock if you are not paying attention. Better keep your eyes peeled for these ones, ey! Their underparts are a pale yellowish colour with grey mottling on the throat. Varanus mertensi grows to about 1.0 m! WOOOW!

Where does the Mertens Water Monitor Lizard live?

This species of Water Monitor is endemic to Northern Australia and is also found in the Kimberley region of Western Australia and the Gulf Country. Right in our backyard! However, they are unfortunately threatened by the introduction of the toxic cane toad. Just one bite of a toad by a monitor will spell death for the lizard. (Awww) Sadly, this beautiful reptile is considered an endangered species.

What do the Mertens Water Monitor eat?

Read on!

They eat any small creatures they can find in the water, such as frogs, fish, crabs and small mammals. (Yuck!) They also like to forage on land for small birds, eggs and even insects. What a wide range of foods! Water Monitors are great swimmers and have a special valve in their nostrils that closes when they dive. (Sounds cool right?) Their nostrils are also on the top of their head, like a croc’s! When they feel threatened, they will slide into the water to seek refuge under logs and rocks. They can hold their breath underwater for an impressive 30 minutes. Crikey! 

The life of the Mertens Water Monitor sounds adventurous don’t you think? Have you seen one at Litchy before? We would love to see how you colour it. Share this with your friends and see who can do the most creative design. You can add a few froggies or fishies as well. Wanna feature your creation on our Instagram? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll share the most creative creation on our Instagram page! 

Yours in adventure,

Have a Merry Norther Christmas 

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Christmas – Litchfield

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Come and Get Lost in Litchfield National Park

Litchfield National Park has been described as, “The never-ending road to perfect waterfalls and beautiful swimming holes, with walking tracks and lookouts that will keep you busy for the entire day or more.” We agree! Litchfield National Park is the land where water bugs come alive! Come and join us in exploring this epic part of the Northern Territory. Only a 60-minute drive from Darwin, Litchy can either be a day trip or a camping trip depending on your preference.

Things to do in Litchfield National Park

Litchy is known for its legendary waterfalls and everyone waits for the biggest one to open each season! Let’s dive in together and see where the journey takes us.

Wangi Falls 

This is one of Litchy’s most popular waterfalls. Accessible by a sealed road, the falls are found near the park’s western boundary, 150 kilometres south of Darwin. The falls are a sight to behold any time of the year but they are especially grand during the wet season from October to March. During this time they are closed for swimming but they more than makeup for it in the way they become thunderous! Be sure to bring your camera as this is the kind of thing we all want to capture.

Wangi Falls also has facilities that include a large campground, picnic areas and barbeques, beautifully manicured lawns and a cafe. The falls are also connected to various walking tracks, including a three-kilometre track that takes you up over the falls and back to the car park. PS: the popular table track is also connected to Wangi Falls.

Florence Falls 

Florence Falls cascades luxuriously into a plunge pool, set in a pocket of monsoon forest. (Sounds dreamy, right!) Enjoy a cooling swim in the crystal clear waters of the pool and a scenic walk to the viewing platform that gives you panoramic views of the valley. You can then return to the car park via the Shady Creek walk, which will loop you back along a stream and through the rainforest-filled gorge, then through the woodlands back to Florence Creek. This is a B-E-A-U=T-I ful picnic spot where you can enjoy the sound of the creek bubbling past before strolling to the car park.

Tjaynera Falls/Sandy Creek Falls 

Keen to escape the crowds? Then Sandy Creek Falls is the spot for you. This gorgeous plunge pool is your reward for the kind of challenging four-wheel drive plus a short hike (30 mins) to the falls. You can take in the breathtaking views while having a picnic lunch after a refreshing dip in the clear waters beneath the falls. This is an experience not to be missed! Equipped with campground facilities, this makes for an idyllic spot for a weekend away!

Tolmer Falls

Cascading over two high escarpments into one deep plunge pool. This is probably one of the most dramatic of Litchy’s waterfalls with views to boot! You can access this waterfall via a sealed road, the falls are located near the western boundary of the park, 85 kilometres south of Darwin.

From the car park, you can take a brief walk to a viewing platform at the top of the waterfall. The 1.6-kilometre return Tolmer Falls Walk is a relatively easy walk that takes about 45 minutes. You will need comfortable shoes as it tends to be a rocky hike. Follow the path through typical Top End sandstone country and along Tolmer Creek and a tributary, past pristine small rock pools. 

Blyth Homestead

Step back in time and experience the pioneering spirit of the Sargent Family and their restored homestead. See the way people lived in years past. You can also see the old tin mine which is now in ruins. Abandoned in the 1960’s it serves as a reminder of the hard times that families endured in the Top End. In the wet season, the homestead may be inaccessible from November – April. You can only access it by four-wheel drive only even in the dry season. 

Magnetic Termite Mounds

The word that comes to mind is spectacular! They are nature’s WOW statement on the NT landscape. They can be up to 100 years old! How cool is that!
To protect these beautiful mounds, boardwalks only take you close to the 2m high, thin magnetic termite mounds and the taller 4m high cathedral termite mounds. These amazing displays of architectural genius are built by termites. They are aligned north to south to minimise sun exposure and this keeps them cool all year round. AMAZING, that is nature for you.

Walker Creek

First things first, be sure to bring your bathers. There are a few water holes along the walk making it one of our favourites during the dry season. There are also a few secluded camping sites nestled along the creek, so pack a tent and make a night of it. Considered Litchy’s best-kept secret, this might just be the best campsite in the National Park.(Shhhh) If you can get a site here you will have it all to yourself. How awesome is that? If you are not keen to spend the night there are a couple of picnic sites with tables and barbies too! You can hop in the creek to cool down, but you can’t camp here. You will have to carry your gear for a bit. There are eight sites all up nearly two kilometres.

Buley Rockhole This is the spot to unwind after a bit of exploring in the park. You can hop from pool to pool or sit and relax as the cool water rolls over your shoulders. This famous Litchy spot is open for most of the year except in periods of heavy flooding where fast-flowing water makes it too dangerous for swimming. It is better to visit early morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds. PS: This is one of the areas you are likely to spot a Water Monitor or two! If you spot one be sure to tag @litchfieldnationalpark for a chance to be featured in our Spotted by Norther Series. Upper Cascades Yes, it is worth the hype and the walk! Getting to the Cascades is a bit of a workout compared to other swimming spots in Litchy. However, if you like your privacy, this is the place to be! You will need a few things to prepare for the walk: sunscreen, sturdy footwear, a hat and some water. At the junction, you can choose to walk via the Lower Cascades, or straight to the Upper Cascades. Although the Lower Cascades are closed during the wet season; they may open later in the dry season depending on water levels. Booking.com

Litchy is filled with epic spots ready for you to explore. We’d love your feedback on this page – please comment below if you’ve been to Litchfield National Park or seen a  Mertens Water Monitor! Get your daily fix of Northern Territory beauty by following @litchfieldnationalpark and @northerhq. Please sign up here to join our newsletter list to be the first to get travel hints and local recommendations.

*Cover image is by @laj_wildlife on Instagram.  

Picture of Norther


NORTHER ® provides encouragement for travellers to value, enjoy and explore the NT in a one-of-kind way so they can honour and respect culture through care and integrity.

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