Set within Nitmiluk National Park, around 250 kilometers southeast of Darwin, Katherine Gorge is an undisputed highlight of visiting the Northern Territory. It borders Kakadu National Park and is of particular importance to the Jawoyn people who are the custodians of the land here. In their language, the name Nitmiluk translates as “place of the cicada dreaming”.
Katherine Gorge comprises thirteen different gorges (some up to 100 meters in depth) that have been carved by the Katherine River through the ancient sandstone of the southern Arnhem Land plateau. During the dry season, the river carries little water and the gorges become a series of pools separated by rocks and boulders. But during the wet season, the river surges dramatically, creating an impressive natural spectacle.
Nitmiluk National Park is home a diverse range of wildlife, including more than 160 species of birds such as endangered Gouldian finches and red-winged parrots, as well as stealthy, freshwater crocodiles. Saltwater crocodiles also enter the gorge during the wet season, but most are caught and relocated to lower levels at the start of the “dry”.
Katherine Gorge can be explored along one of the many walking trails, with a two-hour hike taking you to a spectacular viewpoint above the first gorge. Or you can opt for the more extensive, 5-day hike to Edith Falls that lies in the northwestern part of Nitmiluk National Park. During the wet season, the gorges become interconnected and can also be explored by canoe or flat-bottomed boats. If you want to get a bird’s eye perspective of the gorge, then enjoy a scenic helicopter flight over this magnificent landscape.