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Nitmiluk Gorge

Be drawn to the spectacular sandstone country of Nitmiluk National Park and the majestic Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge with spectacular cliffs that glow in the changing light.

Nitmiluk National Park, just 30 kilometres north-east of Katherine, covers a vast area, including 13 impressive gorges carved from the ancient sandstone country which stretch for as far as the eye can see.

Explore the world-famous park and gorge country on foot, by canoe, boat or helicopter.

Accommodation is available within the National Park. Choose from camping, to chalets through to the upmarket Cicada Lodge. Nitmiluk National Park has something for everyone.

Cruise, paddle, walk or fly

Hire a canoe and paddle along the gorges to see waterfalls, ancient Aboriginal rock art and wildlife. Feel the oars pushing through the water as you set your own pace, taking in the magic and the enormity of the impressive gorges. Canoes are available for hire or permits can be obtained for those wishing to use their own.

Watch the gorge move through a spectrum of colours and glowing hues on a sunrise or sunset river cruise. As you observe the cliff faces towering over the boat, sit back and listen as the traditional owners of the park, the Jawoyn people, transport you into a spiritual world of their culture and history.

Reach for the sky in a scenic flight over the park. Offering the most magnificent views from the air, a helicopter flight is a ‘must-do’ experience, showing the gorge system, Arnhem Land escarpment and local wildlife from a different perspective. Flights leave from the nearby Visitor Centre with some options including an exclusive swim in one of the harder to reach gorges.

The Windolf Walk is a moderately challenging track that winds along Katherine River and up to Pat’s Lookout for a sweeping view of the gorge. The 8.4km return track includes access to the picturesque Southern Rockhole – a seasonal waterfall.

Natural swimming holes

Soak up the landscape as you cool off in the tranquil waters of Leliyn (Edith) Falls, on the park’s western boundary. Swimming at both the lower and upper pools is a must with the upper falls offering a particularly special swim among picture-perfect rock formations.

If you have time for a full day or overnight walk, you can follow the track to Sweetwater Pool, a secluded swimming hole where the waters mimic the sky in a spectacular display.

For the slightly more adventurous you can paddle through the narrow chasms of Butterfly Gorge, a quiet, shaded gorge with rocky walls that are home to thousands of butterflies. Feel like you are in the land of fairies as they surround you while you walk.

Aboriginal owners

Learn about the cultural and spiritual significance of the gorge for its traditional owners, the Jawoyn and Dagomen people. The Nitmiluk Visitor Centre is located at the entrance to Nitmiluk Gorge and should be your first stop when visiting the national park.

For thousands of years the Jawoyn people have maintained their culture and traditions through the stories passed from one generation to another – the Dreamtime. Nitmiluk is the Jawoyn name for Katherine Gorge. It is pronounced Nit-me-look, and literally means Cicada Place.

There are many Aboriginal rock art paintings on sandstone walls throughout the gorge system, some of which are thousands of years old. Take a tour to learn about the traditions, stories, ceremonies and the significance of the land from a local guide.

Walk the Jatbula Trail

For a trip of a lifetime walk the five-day, 58 km Jatbula Trail. The reasonably difficult trail, for experienced hikers, is named after an ancient Aboriginal songline (paths across the land) used by the Jawoyn people that passes waterfalls, monsoon rainforest, stone country and Aboriginal rock art.

The trail starts at the Visitor Information Centre at the entrance of Nitmiluk Gorge and ends at Leliyn (Edith) Falls.

Things to see & do in Nitmiluk National Park

  • Information

    Opening times

    Daily 24 hours. The Nitmiluk Visitors Centre is open from 7am to 7pm.

    Facilities

    • Barbeque
    • Boating Facilities
    • Cafe
    • Caravan / Camper Trailer / Campervan Sites / Campsites
    • Carpark
    • Coach Parking
    • Enquiry Desk
    • Family Friendly
    • Food and Refreshments
    • Interpretive Centre
    • Lookouts
    • Picnic Area
    • Public Toilet
    • Restaurant

    Activities

    • Birdwatching
    • Camping
    • Canoeing/Kayaking
    • Swimming
    • Walks
    • Hiking

    Accessibility

    Caters for people with sufficient mobility to climb a few steps but who would benefit from fixtures to aid balance. (This includes people using walking frames and mobility aids)

  • Map

    Map

    What's nearby

    What's nearby

    Explore the NT
    Driving routes Flight paths
  • FAQs

    Can Nitmiluk Gorge be done as a day trip?

    It's possible to take a day trip from Darwin to Nitmiluk Gorge, however a longer stay is recommended. The Gorge is just over 30 minutes drive from Katherine, meaning a day trip from Katherine is certainly possible. If you have more time, stay a few nights to make sure you don't miss out on anything.

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    Do I need any passes or permits to visit Nitmiluk Gorge?

    No passes or permits are required to visit Nitmiluk Gorge, except if you wish to use your own canoe. As always, check with local tourism providers – especially if you plan on camping or fishing.

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    How do I get around Nitmiluk National Park?

    Nitmiluk National Park has a number of attractions, so driving or taking an organised tour are the best ways to see everything. All attractions are accessible with a regular vehicle, a 4WD is not necessary. There are well marked walking tracks in the park, ranging from one hour walks to the five-day Jatbula Trail. When exploring Nitmiluk Gorge you can jump on cruise boat or hire a canoe.

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    How do I get to Nitmiluk Gorge?

    A number of tour operators include Nitmiluk Gorge in their itineraries, it's an easy drive from Darwin or Kakadu National Park. By road, Nitmiluk Gorge is a 4 hour drive south from Darwin on the Stuart Highway. You can take the weekly Ghan train from Adelaide or Alice Springs, or fly into Katherine with Air North. Nitmiluk Gorge is a 30 minute drive on a sealed, all-weather road from Katherine.

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    How far is Nitmiluk Gorge from Katherine?

    Katherine is just 30 minutes' drive from Nitmiluk Gorge. Katherine has an array of excellent accommodation options that suit every budget.

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    What are the major attractions at Nitmiluk Gorge?

    Whether you visit for a day or a week, there's plenty to see and do at Nitmiluk Gorge. Highlights include boat cruises down the gorge, unique tours with local Aboriginal guides, canoeing at the break of day, stunning Aboriginal rock art, and the luxurious accommodation at Cicada Lodge.

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    What should I bring with me to Nitmiluk Gorge?

    Aside from bringing your imagination and ambition to see as much as you can, you should also bring sunscreen, a hat, insect repellent, a first aid kit, plenty of water and comfortable walking shoes.

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    When is the best time to visit Nitmiluk Gorge?

    You can visit Nitmiluk Gorge all year-round. The weather between May to October is warm and dry, making it the perfect time for long hikes, canoeing or exploring the region. November to April sees the arrival of the tropical rain, and when the water level rises, jet boats operate cruises on the gorge.

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    Where should I go next from Nitmiluk Gorge?

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