Encapsulated in the lush landscape and spectacular scenery of Litchfield National Park, approximately an hour and a half from Darwin, the magnificent rock pools and waterholes of Buley Rockhole (pronounced “Bew-lee”) offers visitors a glorious oasis to relax, unwind and retreat from the heat after a long day of exploration and adventure in the park. To get there you will need to hire a car or you may wish to consider a Litchfield National Park tour.
What can you see and do at Buley Rockholes?
There are too many reasons as to why Buley Rockholes is one of the most popular swimming spots in the Top End. This collection of ancient rock pools have been formed over thousands of years as a network of layered rock holes, picturesque three-tiered pools, natural spas and a series of whirlpools. It’s a perfect place to enjoy a refreshing swim, take a dive in the pristine plunge pools, splash around in the shallows or simply just kick back, lounge about and allow the cool water to rush over your shoulders and get a free massage from the fast-moving natural rapids as you take in the scenic bush surrounds.
When is the best time to visit Buley Rockholes?
The cascading pools are easy to access and are open for visitors for most of the year however it is advised not to swim during the wet season. A breezy 1.5km walk from the carpark will get you to the pools, alternatively, you can stretch your legs and explore the ‘Florence Creek Walk’ scenic route with a slightly longer 3.2-kilometre return where you can enjoy trekking through the native woodlands and thick monsoonal vine forests sprawled out between Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole. Whilst out hiking, keep your eyes peeled for the vibrant array of colourful plants and flowers, the hundreds of different species of local wildlife and the various native bird species that can be spotted throughout the park.
In 1920 the rock hole was renamed after Norman Buley, an engineer who led a government prospecting party sent to examine areas drained by the Katherine, Fitzmaurice and Daly Rivers at the time. However, the area has held special cultural significance to the Koongurrukun people as a designated family area for thousands of years. There’s plenty of private spots and the different sized pools and crystal clear, shallow waters make it safe for toddlers, children or beginners of all ages to enjoy playing, swimming and splashing about in. However, some of the rock shelves can be surprisingly quite deep (greater than 2 metres) and the rocks do have a tendency to get quite slippery at times so make sure to scope out the area first to get your bearings and move mindfully.
The lower pools offer a shady respite from the tropical northern Australian climate where you can cool off and rejuvenate on a hot day whereas the upper pools allow you to bask in the sunshine and soak up the full solar radiance and glow of the Aussie sun. These waters are also crocodile free, so you can relax and spend hours immersed in the peaceful surrounds of the rock holes without worrying about getting snapped up or losing any limbs!
The surrounding landscape to Buley Rockholes is a vibrant paradise of majestic waterfalls, including the spectacular double cascades of ‘Wangi Falls’ and ‘Florence Falls’ that flow abundantly all year round. The area boasts pockets of thick monsoonal rainforest, native woodlands, wild rugged cliffs and spectacular jaw-dropping views that will take your breath away. For those with an adventurous spirit, Litchfield National Park is a natural wonderland that offers a selection of different walking trails through scenic bushlands that open out into vast savanna plains and panoramic views of the open valley gorge. It’s also home to some of the largest magnetic termite mounds in the Top End and historic ruins that can be dated back to the pioneering days at Blyth Homestead and Bamboo Creek that are well worth exploring too. A great way to see all of this is to book one of our Darwin tours.