Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park
Back to nature
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.
FREE ENTRY TO PARK; HIGH COST FOR CRUISES AND CANOE HIRE
Gorge Rd, 30 km north-east of Katherine; National Park Visitor Centre, (08) 8972 1253 or 1300 146 743
■ 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.
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.
■ 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.
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