Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge)

Nitmiluk National Park in the Katherine Gorge area is well known for its system of 13 giant gorges.

The park offers a wide range of hiking trails ranging from walks lasting a couple of hours to challenging 65km overnight hikes. An easier – and more popular – option is a cruise on the Katherine River.

Many of the shorter walks depart from the visitors centre. These include the Butterfly Gorge, Lookout Loop and Windolf walks. The demanding Butterfly Gorge walk (12km; 4½ hours) takes you through a varied landscape and ends at a good swimming spot. The Lookout Loop (3.6km; 2 hours) takes you up the side of the gorge and offers great views of the river. The Windolf walk (8.4km; 3½ hours) features Aboriginal art and also has lovely views.

The most taxing of the overnight hikes is the Jatbula Trail (65km; 5 days). This one-way hike starts at the visitor centre and takes you past rainforests, gorges and waterfalls before finishing at Edith Falls. It is essential to register with the visitors centre if you’re walking the Jatbula Trail or any of the other overnight hikes in Nitmiluk.

The park is also a popular spot for canoeing; but it can be tough going at times, as you’ll have to carry your canoe over the rocks that separate each gorge. There are several camping areas set aside for canoeists, although registration is required at the visitor centre.

Boat cruises on the Katherine River are popular with many tourists and are the easiest way to see the gorge, but they are touristy and it can feel like you’re being rushed. The two-gorge cruise (1½–2 hours) costs $79 and the three-gorge cruise (3½–4½ hours) costs $120. Cruises are operated by Nitmiluk Tours, who also organise canoe rental ($38–53 for four hours).

May to September is the best time to visit. In the wet season, parts of the park are subject to flooding and some trails, including the Jatbula Trail, are closed.

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