Part Of The Nitmiluk National Park, Katherine Gorge Is A Popular Tourist Destination In Australia`s Northern Territory
The Katherine Gorge is actually a series of thirteen connected gorges cut by the Katherine River through the sandstone rock of the area over the last one billion years.
Located just eighteen miles north of the nearby town of Katherine and about 150 miles south east of Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, the gorge is a popular destination. As far as Darwin tourism goes, this is one of the places to visit.
Travellers often catch the Ghan railway which stops in Katherine and go to see the gorge, it`s top of the list of things to do in Darwin when you are visiting the city.
Dramatic Sunrise Over Part Of The Katherine Gorge, Australia
Many of the thousands who visit the Gorge every year are young backpackers from all over the world who come to experience the atmosphere of the Australian Outback.
They often stay in nearby Katherine and make the short journey from the town by car or a Katherine Gorge tour bus.
Katherine is an interesting town of around six thousand people and is on the railway line from Darwin in the north, right down to Adelaide in the south.
There is a road and an old rail bridge which cross the Katherine River here and, although normally over forty feet above the water level, it has been known for the river to rise and reach the bridge.
The Road Bridge Over The Katherine River South Of The Gorge
The gorge is part of the Nitmiluk National Park which is a major tourist attraction in its own right. Once known as the Katherine Gorge National Park, the land has recently been handed back to its ancient owners. They are the Jawoyn people, an Aboriginal tribe, who renamed the park Nitmiluk meaning "the place of the cicada dreaming."
Nitmiluk National Park and the Gorge are now managed jointly by the Jawoyn people and the Northern Territory Government.
There are a number of ways for visitors to enjoy the gorge. There are miles of fantastic hiking trails of various lengths and difficulty, including the notable Jatbula Trail. Also river cruises, scenic flights in helicopters and for the fitter and more adventurous, canoeing!
Kangeroos and Wallabies Inhabit The Picnic Area Near The Visitor Centre
At the beginning of the first of the gorges there is a visitor centre which is surrounded by attractive parklands dotted with picnic tables and inhabited by kangeroos and wallabies.
The centre has a restaurant, shop and numerous displays that explain the history of Nitmiluk National Park and the Jawoyn people as well as the landscape, geology and formation of the Gorge.
This part of Australia really has only two seasons, "the Wet" and "the Dry."
The Dry season runs from about April through to October and it is during these months that the waters of the gorge are ideal for canoeing and taking one of the Katherine Gorge cruises. These cruises, which are of various lengths, are only able to go as far as the fifth gorge.
The Steep Walls Of The Gorge From The Level Of A Canoe
Canoes can be hired from the visitor centre and although a two-man canoe is the ideal way to experience the adventure it can easily be done alone, as I can happily testify! Remember to take plenty of water and suncream, there is shade in some places at the bottom of the gorges but often you will be in strong sunlight.
Whichever way you choose to explore Katherine Gorge, on foot, by canoe, on a river cruise or up in a helicopter, it will be an experience that will live with you forever.