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Katherine Gorge

Nitmiluk National Park

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Katherine Gorge in late afternoon

Afternoon sunlight colors the cliffs at Katherine Gorge

Copyright 2000 Australian Tourist Commission

Thirteen gorgeous gorges make up the major attraction of Katherine Gorge some 340 kilometres southeast of Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory, Australia.

This is rugged Outback country with deep rainforests, rocky cliffs and escarpments, and the water habitat of unique birds and animals, with here and there the slither of a freshwater crocodile.

One hundred kilometres of walking tracks bring the visitor face to face with Nature in some of her wildest moods.

One of the Northern Territory national parks, Katherine Gorge is the heart of Nitmiluk national park which is south of (and smaller than) Kakadu but larger than Litchfield which is close to the towns of Batchelor and Rum Jungle and closer to Darwin.

Jawoyn owners

Nitmiluk is owned by the Jawoyn Aborigines who manage it jointly with the Northern Territory government.

The gorges, with rapids and falls, follow the Katherine River, which begins in Kakadu, as it courses through the heart of the national park. Katherine River becomes the Daly as it heads out to the Timor Sea.

During the Dry, roughly from April to October, the Katherine Gorge waters are placid in most spots and ideal for swimming and canoeing. There may be freshwater crocodiles in parts of the river but, unlike their saltwater cousins, they rarely attack unless cornered and provoked.

Only 75 canoes are allowed in Katherine Gorge at any one time, so if you plan to go canoeing, be sure to book in advance.

Gorge cruises

On the other hand, you can always take a boat cruise through Katherine Gorge and there are short, medium and long cruises you can take during the Dry, the day-long ones to as far as the fifth gorge.

The waters of Katherine Gorge go wild in the Wet and canoeing and swimming may be out of the question. Only the shorter cruises are available but they also depend on the prevailing river conditions.

For fishing and camping at Katherine Gorge, there should be relevant and current information at the visitor centre at the end of Gorge Rd, the more popular access road of two to Katherine Gorge.

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