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On our around Australia caravan trip our visit to Katherine in Northern Territory wasn’t our first. We had previously spent a half day in Katherine years ago when we stopped here on The Ghan train journey from Adelaide to Darwin, through the very heart of Australia. On this first visit we jumped on a tour that took us out to Katherine Gorge, which only gave us a small sample of what Nitmiluk National Park had to offer. Exploring Nitmiluk National Park in Northern Territory a little deeper was always high on our bucket list.
Nitmiluk National Park covers a vast area of 292,008 hectares of escarpment country, including 13 gorges carved from the ancient sandstone, that is located 28kms north-east of Katherine or 244 km south-east of Darwin. Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk Gorge) winds 12 km along the Katherine River, with steep escarpments more than 70 meters high, river rapids, refreshing rock pools and plunging waterfalls.
On our first visit to Katherine Gorge we learnt that the traditional owners of Nitmiluk National Park were the Jawoyn and Dagomen people. We also discovered that there were many examples of their presence with Aboriginal rock art paintings on sandstone walls throughout the gorge system, some of which are thousands of years old.
One of the best ways to explore Katherine Gorge is to hire a kayak and paddle along the gorges to see the amazing rock pools and waterfalls or otherwise jump aboard a fully commentated boat cruise through the gorge system.
The boat cruise we took also included a hike along the rocky shores of the gorge where you get to see some of the Aboriginal rock art, plant and wildlife. Some people also choose to see the gorge by air with a scenic flight which I imagine would be spectacular.
If time had permitted we would have loved to do the Windolf Walk that winds along Katherine River and up to Pat’s Lookout for a sweeping view of the gorge. If you continue along this trail you arrive at the Southern Rock hole, where a beautiful waterfall flows after rain. A great spot to cool off!
During our second visit to Katherine we decided to drive further out to Edith Falls or Leliyn. Located on the western side of Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge), a 60 km drive north of Katherine along the Stuart Highway.
As it was a hot day we initially enjoyed a quick swim in the paperbark and pandanus fringed natural pool at the base of the falls prior to embarking on a hike. The area is great for bushwalking with the 2.6 km Leliyn Trail offering a challenging walk along a steep, rocky loop.
There is the chance for another refreshing swim in the upper pool of Leliyn/Edith Falls half way around the trail.
You can also enjoy the longer 9 kilometre return walk to Sweetwater Pool, a tranquil swimming hole. Leliyn/Edith Falls is also the finishing point of the 62 km Jatbula Trail walking track, which begins at Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge).
Although we didn’t camp here, there are grassy campsites in a scenic bush setting available in the National Park and a well-appointed kiosk that provides cold drinks and light meals.
For the hiking enthusiasts there are well over 100 km of walking trails in the Park region. The extremely challenging and famous Jatbula Trail journey, a four-to-six day 58 km bush walk, beginning from Katherine Gorge and ending at Edith Falls, traverses lush scenery, plummeting waterfalls and Aboriginal rock art.
For more information the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre should be your first stop when visiting the national park. It’s situated at the entrance to Katherine Gorge and offers information on tours and walks in the National Park. Wildlife rangers are also available to give advice on bushwalking, camping and other activities in the region.
Our few days exploring this remote and untamed region were memorable. We were impressed with the majestic beauty and sheer size of the spectacular Katherine Gorge and the volume of water cascading over the numerous waterfalls. As we discovered, the Northern Territory of Australia certainly takes on its own type of beauty.
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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