In Northern Australia, set in the picturesque Litchfield National Park is the Buley Rockhole swim spot. A series of deep pools that flow through a rocky section of the river, this swimming hole has become one of the most popular places to visit outside of the capital city of the Northern Territory, Darwin, which is less than 90 minutes away.
Visitors from all over Australia and the world are drawn to the Buley Rockhole to catch a break from the high heat and humidity of summertime. The pools at the rockhole are surrounded by lush bushland where visitors can also enjoy additional activities like hiking and camping.
The rockhole was originally named after Norman Buley, who worked for a prospecting party in the government in 1920. In the years since their discovery, the rockhole pools have gained immense popularity through social media. Most summer days, big crowds converge at the Buley Rockhole to swim, sit, and relax at the pools.
The Rockhole Pools
The Buley Rockhole is actually a series of deep pools along a 98-foot (38 meters) section of a river in Litchfield National Park. Water flowing along the rocks gathers in the pools and cascades off of the rocky shelves.
Swimmers can relax in the deeper swimming holes or sit under one of the waterfalls for a gentle massage. The current through the river can be quite strong in sections of the Buley Rockhole, so visitors need to be cautious of which cascades they enter.
Water temperatures at the Buley Rockhole can vary because the pools are part of a flowing river. Most of the time, the pools are rather cool, which is why they are a popular summertime swim spot. However, the majority of previous visitors state that the water is the perfect temperature for swimming and never gets too cold.
The water at the rockhole is also very clear unless there has been a lot of rain. In the deepest pools, the watercolor often changes from blue to green. The depths of the pools range from the perfect wading depth to more than 6.5 feet (2 meters). When walking along the cascades or edges of the pools, visitors should be careful of the slippery rocks.
There are no easy access or accessibility ramps at the rockhole. Everything at the rock pools has been kept natural. To access the pools and cascades, visitors will have to walk over the river’s natural rock bed. The rocks can be slick and sharp, so proper footwear is recommended for all visitors.
Most of the year, the Buley Rockhole is open for swimming. However, heavy rains make the water dirty and can make the cascades more dangerous as they flow faster and stronger. For these reasons, most visitors will avoid visiting the rockhole after periods of heavy rain. October is usually the wettest month in Australia.
Wildlife can be seen around the Buley Rockhole and there are warning signs for crocodiles. Seeing a crocodile at the rockhole pools is rare, but visitors should always be cautious because they do live in the area. It’s more common to see crocodiles or other wildlife close to the campgrounds.
Visitors who are staying overnight are encouraged to stay alert and keep their eye out for any approaching wildlife.
To access the Buley Rockhole pools, visitors will have to walk along a 0.5-mile (800-meter) long looping track. The trail to the rockhole is maintained but does not have wheelchair accessibility. It has been graded as a level 2 or easy track by park officials.
There are two parking lots at the Buley Rockhole. The closest parking lot was built just for the rockhole, but if it is full, visitors can find more parking spots at the parking lot for Florence Falls. From the Florence Falls parking lot, visitors can walk along a short trail to catch up with the Buley Rockhole loop.
Facilities that are just a short walking distance to the Buley Rockhole include a picnic area, bathroom, and changing areas. At the rockhole pools, there are no facilities. All trash that is brought down to the river, must be carried back out by visitors.
There is no campsite directly affiliated with the Buley Rockhole. However, visitors can camp at the Florence Falls Campgrounds, which are just a short distance from the pools. There are two campsites at Florence Falls for 2WD and 4WD vehicles. The Florence Falls 2WD Campsite is the closest camping area to the Buley Rockhole.
The campsite is just 2.2 miles (3.6km) away from the Buley Rockhole and both destinations share the same access road. Visitors can drive to the rockhole by taking the main road back to the turn-off for the parking lot of the rockhole or they can walk the road to join up with the Buley Rockhole loop.
The Florence Falls 2WD Campground is accessible to all vehicles, including caravans. Campers must use the designated campsites and fire pits. Facilities at the campground include toilets and showers. There are short walking tracks at the campground that lead to both Buley Rockhole and Florence Falls, which is another water feature in Litchfield National Park.
Less popular and further away from the Buley Rockhole is the Florence Falls 4WD Campground. This camping area is sealed and only accessible by 4WD because parts of the road are very steep. Most 2WD vehicles, including caravans and trailers, will not be suitable for the road.
Facilities at the 4WD camping area include toilets and showers. Visitors can walk to nearby destinations like the Buley Rockhole and Florence Falls by taking walking tracks that lead to and from the campground.
The Buley Rockhole is located within Litchfield National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory. The closest township to the national park is called Batchelor, which is 11.1 miles (18km) away. Most tourists to the rockhole pools come from Darwin. Darwin is 66.2 miles (106.6 km) or 1 hour and 19 minutes drive to the north of Litchfield National Park.
To get to the Buley Rockhole from Darwin:
- Take National Highway 1 out of Darwin.
- Continue on National Highway 1 until you reach Batchelor Road/B30.
- Continue on Batchelor Road/B30 until you reach the roundabout and take the 2nd exit onto Rum Jungle Road/B30.
- From Rum Jungle Road/B30 continue until your reach Litchfield Park Road/B30.
- Turn left onto Litchfield Park Road/B30.
- Turn right onto Buley Florence, which is the main service road to both Buley Rockhole and Florence Falls.
- From the service road, the turnoff for the Buley Rockhole and parking lot will be on your left.
Address: Litchfield Park NT 0822, Australia
Coordinates: 13.11356°S, 130.78642°E
Phone: (+61) 08 8999 3947 – Litchfield National Park Ranger Station
Age Restrictions: None
Pets: Not permitted
Entry: Free – however, there are camping fees per person and per night