Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park

As the kids splash around, enjoying the coolness of the water, you float on your back gazing up at the red cliffs that tower above on both sides. Overhead an eagle glides on outstretched wings. Then your swimming time is up. You board the tour boat again, and as it chugs slowly along the gorge, you eagerly follow the guide’s pointing finger. He draws your attention to Aboriginal parintings high above the floodline and reveals that a ‘knobbly log’ is really a freshwater crocodile.

Price range

FREE ENTRY TO PARK; HIGH COST FOR CRUISES AND CANOE HIRE

Contact details

Gorge Rd, 30 km north-east of Katherine; National Park Visitor Centre, (08) 8972 1253 or 1300 146 743

 
May be inaccessible in wet season (Oct–Apr)

Don't Miss

■ The Nitmiluk Visitor Centre near the entrance to the park. Pick up information, book tours, have a run in the playground, and look at the display for an introduction to the park’s flora, fauna, geology, and history. You might also see an artist at work here.

■ Swimming beneath Leliyn (Edith Falls) or exploring the surrounds.
 
■ The Territory Parks Alive (Katherine) sessions offered here.
 
■ The very steep but interesting walk from the jetty up to a cliff-top lookout – allow about two hours return and take plenty of water.
 
■ Bush tucker walks that are occasionally on offer. Enquire at the visitor centre. These are high cost and take about four hours, departing at 8am.

Fabulous Facts

Nitmiluk is pronounced Nit-me-look. It is the name used for Katherine Gorge by the local Aboriginal people, the Jawoyn. Nitmiluk means ‘Cicada Place’ (cicadas make a nit-nit-nit sound). The gorge is associated with the Dreamtime, and according to Aboriginal legend, the Rainbow Serpent Bolung dwells in the deep green pools of the second gorge. Out of respect for Bolung, Jawoyn people do not fish in these waters.

Insider Tips

■ Nitmiluk Gorge winds for 12 kilometres through sheer sandstone cliffs, carved out by the Katherine River over millions of years. The gorge actually consists of 13 separate gorges.

■ The best way to see the most scenic stretches of the gorge is by boat tour. There are various cruises, and all include easy walks between gorges for a chance to get closer to the plants and wildlife. The longer tours include a swim. Book ahead at the visitor centre to avoid disappointment.
 
■ You can hire one- or two-person canoes at 8am or 1pm each day at the gorge (booking recommended). However, to reach the most scenic stretches you need to paddle for a whole day and camp overnight. Note: the minimum age for canoeing is 6 years.
 
■ There are walking trails leading into the park. To see animals, you need to keep very quiet. Your best chance is early morning or evening.
 
■ If you spot any crocodiles on the river, they are usually freshwater crocodiles. These do not eat humans, but will bite if disturbed.
 
■ You might spot turtles or water monitors (a lizard that grows to 1 metre long) swimming or sunning on rocks.
 
■ Picnic facilities and barbecues are available in the grassed area at the gorge.
 
■ It is possible to swim in parts of the gorge, but check warning signs carefully.
 
■ Scenic helicopter flights (high cost) are also available – contact the visitor centre.
 
■ The Sugarbag Cafe in the visitor centre stays open for dinner from June to August.
 
■ Several accommodation options are available in the park at Nitmiluk Chalets and Campground.

See Also

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