Nitmiluk National Park… what a wonderful place!! I stayed there for 4 months and every day has been different.
Nitmiluk National Park is owned by the local Jawoyn people and Katherine Gorge is the main attraction of the park. It’s a series of 13 deep sandstone gorges carved out by the Katherine River on its journey from Arnhem Land to the Timor Sea.
If you love wildlife here you’ll have the chance to see it. Wallabies are literally everywhere, they might come closer to look for food, but please don’t feed them (if you really have to don’t give them bread, apparently it can kill them). You might see crocodiles but don’t worry, Rangers are always around making sure that no salties are in the river, just freshies that are smaller and will probably go away as soon as they see you. There are a lot of nice birds to see, the one I liked most was the Kookaburra, till it stole food from me, now I prefer to keep a biiig distance with them.
The best activity I’ve done in this park is the Cultural Experience, a full day where you get to know aboriginal culture and food, you get to try to play the didgeridoo, to throw spears and to paint.
There are many different ways to see Nitmiluk National Park.
The cruises are the most popular and easy option to see the gorge.
You can do a three gorge cruise, a two gorge cruise or a sunset dinner cruise (basically a two gorges cruise with dinner on board).
Personally I never did the three gorge cruise, but I did the two gorge cruise and it’s really interesting. During the cruise your guide will tell you about the gorge and his history, if you are lucky enough he’ll tell you a bit about aboriginal history and will explain you the rock art. Listen to him (or her), I’ve found it fascinating. If you want to do the two gorge cruise I’d recommend the first cruise of the day or the dinner cruise, it’s so nice to see the sunrise or the sunset and the surrounding nature waking up or going back to sleep.
This is probably the best way to discover the park and to get away from the tourist crowds. You can hire a canoe for a half day (it allows you to stay just in the first gorge), full day (enjoy the first two gorges) or the overnight (go as far as you can, just remember you’ll have to go back).
I’d recommend the overnight, it gives you the possibility to see much more and relax in wonderful places that not many have seen. The only down site with the canoe is that you won’t have a guide, so you won’t know where to look for wonderful rock art sites. Remember to book in advance because they don’t have many canoes and they go away pretty fast.
You can choose from a 3 gorge, 8 gorge or 13 gorge flight. You can do a tour of the rock art spots (I’d love to do it) and you guide will tell you everything you need to know about them and the history of the place.
You can do a swimming tour, they will take you to see waterfalls and let you enjoy a nice swim. I went to the sixth and fifth gorge by helicopter and the view was just amazing.
There are many different walks, but some of them need a bit of physical preparation.
The Jatbula Trail is 66 km, a five day walk from Nitmiluk Gorge to Edith Falls. Along the way you’ll have the chance to see Aboriginal rock art, stunning scenery and waterfalls (depending on the season).
The walk to the Northern Rockhole (nice waterfall and swimming spot) is just 2.5 kilometers walk, but you’ll need to cross the river with a ferry (ask at the visitor center, they’ll arrange it for you).
The shortest walk is the one to the Viewpoint, I don’t actually now how long it is, but I’ve been there for the sunset and it’s tunning to see the gorge from the top with the sun slowly disappearing (just remember to take a torch with you for the way back).
There are other walks you can do, for more information check their web site or just stop at the visitor center.
For breakfast and lunch you can chill on the terrace at the visitor center.
If you intend to stay overnight in the park you can stay in the camping ground or book a room at Cicada Lodge. The camping ground has a swimming pool with a bar where you can have dinner, or you can just use one of the barbecue around and enjoy you’re own food. They have both, powered and unpowered sites, but for the powered ones I’d recommend to book in advance. Cicada Lodge is a luxurious hotel with swimming pool, fine dining restaurant and comfortable rooms.