Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk National Park)

After living in Katherine for a couple of months we were well overdue to visit Katherine’s main tourist attraction – Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park. It’s just 30km from town so pretty good for a quick weekend away. We stayed at the Nitmiluk Cavaran Park right near the gorge.

We hired a canoe for a day and paddled down the gorge. Canoeing is the best way to experience the gorge. Gives you heaps of time to appreciate the natural beauty, and you can stop whenever you want for a refreshing swim. It’s been really hot around Katherine lately so swimming was most enjoyable. You can find you’re own little private beach on the banks of the river, beach the canoe and go for a swim. The area around the gorge is certified salt water crocodile free and is safe for swimming. Part of the crocodile management strategies is to place crocodile traps to capture any problem crocodiles before they eat any people.

These canoes are much harder to steer compared with my experience on surf skis. It’s impossible to drive them straight. They want to go around in circles. It’s a constant struggle to keep them straight as the rear end always wants to step out, and once it starts going sideways its very difficult to recover. Stop paddling for a moment, and the canoe spins out of control doing 360’s as you drift. So much effort is exerted trying to keep it straight, that we found it easier for the person at the front to paddle and the person at the rear to use the paddle like a rudder to prevent any sideways action.

After the canoe ride we headed to the caravan park. There’s a swimming pool and kiosk right by the pool where dinner, drinks and beer can be purchased. So a quick cooling swim in the pool followed by dinner and some drinks whilst watching the live music is how we spent our evening. Around the caravan park there’s several flash hoppers (I think proper name is agile wallabies) that seem very used to people. Good chance to get a nice shot.

Next morning we went for a walk. There’s heaps of walking tracks around Katherine Gorge, up and down the gorges and through the bush. We started early to avoid the heat and did the most popular walk – the Baruwei Loop. Finished around 9:30, by which time it was already above 30 degrees. We were warned about the heat – someone collapsed on the walk a few days ago due to heat exhaustion. There’s a long distance walk – the Jatbula Trail, that runs for around 60km from Katherine Gorge to Edith Falls. There’s camping spots along the trail and it’s typically done over 4-5 days. We want to do it, but the only opportunity we have is next school holidays in October. The trail closes from October for the wet season due to extreme risk of heat exhaustion, so looks like we miss out.

After the walk we went to the Sugar Bag Cafe, at the visitor’s centre overlooking Katherine Gorge. It’s a really nice spot, with a huge outdoor timber decking area with views of the gorge below. Great place to relax and grab a bite to eat. Opportunity taken to sample their steak sandwich. Was around midday by the time we left the cafe. We had time to go for another walk or something, but it was too hot and we were tired from the full day in the sun canoeing the day before and the walk in the morning, so we headed home. After a quick power nap, that afternoon I had a go at some fishing in the Katherine River near our house. I caught no fish and lost one lure.

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