Katherine Gorge (also known as Nitmiluk Gorge) is one of the most unique locations in Australia and an absolute must-see on your Northern Territory itinerary.
In addition to its outstanding beauty and native wildlife, Nitmiluk features a series of 13 gorges in total and offers activities to suit everybody – on the ground, in the water, or up in the sky!
Enjoy amazing bush walks where you can admire the cliffs and different types of landscapes or choose one of the many Nitmiluk Gorge tours such as the famous boat cruise, or go kayaking in the adventurous waters.
I have put together this complete guide to Nitmiluk Gorge including where it’s located, the best time to visit, and a list of five awesome things to do during your visit.
WHERE IS KATHERINE GORGE
Katherine Gorge is located in the Northern Territory of Australia, and it lies within Nitmiluk National Park.
If you are heading south from Darwin, the distance is 290 km and it will take you approximately 3 hours by car.
BEST TIME TO VISIT NITMILUK GORGE
Nitmiluk Gorge offers a tropical climate, so if you are looking for some nice sunny days the best time to visit the area is between May and September.
Bear in mind that during the dry season it may be too hot for hiking or bush walks and that during the wet season the water levels may rise so high that it will impede activities like canoeing and kayaking or even boat cruises.
Be sure to plan your trip well in advance so that you make the most out of your visit.
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KATHERINE GORGE TOUR FROM DARWIN
For those of you who are interested in visiting with a tour, you can book a full-day scenic Katherine Gorge Tour from Darwin which includes the following:
- Pick-up and drop-off from Darwin
- Explore the Nitmiluk Gorges
- Nitmiluk Gorge Cruise
- See Aboriginal rock art sites
- Refresh in Edith Falls
- Visit Adelaide River War Cemetery
- Enjoy lunch in Nitmiluk National Park
BOOK NOW → KATHERINE GORGE TOUR FROM DARWIN
ARRIVING AT NITMILUK NATIONAL PARK
When you arrive, there is a large car park with plenty of free parking spaces available.
At the entrance, you will find the Nitmiluk National Park Visitor Center where you can grab a map and further information about the area.
There are also toilet amenities, picnic, and barbecue areas available for use.
RELATED ARTICLE → KATHERINE HOT SPRINGS
5 THINGS TO DO IN NITMILUK NATIONAL PARK
Now that you’ve got all the information on where to find the gorge and the best time to visit, let’s get to the fun stuff.
Please see the list below of 5 awesome things to do during your visit.
KATHERINE GORGE CRUISE
If you’re a water lover, the Katherine Gorge Cruise may be the highlight of your journey. With many different options to satisfy all types of travelers, enjoy an easy-going boat cruise through the gorge in the morning or in the afternoon.
The cruise offers an authentic experience of Australian unique wildlife, plus you get the opportunity to enjoy the little secrets such as waterfalls, natural pools, and expanded rivers where you can take a swim.
In addition to all the water sports at Nitmiluk Gorge, you can also appreciate the beautiful sandy beaches and remarkable cliffs as you cruise slowly upstream.
This is a perfect option if you are doing a family trip as you have diverse activities for everyone. You can also take a cultural cruise to learn more about local history.
BOOK NOW → KATHERINE CRUISE
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SCENIC HELICOPTER FLIGHT
Undoubtedly, one of the best activities you can do is a scenic helicopter flight with Nitmiluk Heli-Touring.
It’s not every day that you get the chance to fly over such a unique and beautiful landscape!
Besides being an experience of a lifetime, there couldn’t be a better place for it. You can enjoy the stunning views as the pilot Matt comments on the landscape and its features.
Choose from a 3 Gorge, 8 Gorge, 13 Gorge, Art Site, Swim Site, or the Ultimate Tour.
If you are feeling even more adventurous, you can also add on some thrilling activities like hiking, crocodile spotting, and heli-fishing, to name a few.
There are longer flight options available of up to 3 hours which may be something to consider if you wish to see all 13 gorges.
Prices start as low as $108 per person.
HIKING KATHERINE GORGE
Hiking in the gorge is an experience of a lifetime. Here you can enjoy the beautiful Australian flora and fauna on foot, on short trails of 40 minutes, or start an adventure that can take you days, or even weeks.
Depending on the time you have available, and your level of fitness, there are many different walks available. The trails are considerably short with moderate difficulty.
Don’t forget that if you are hiking on a hot day, between September and December, you should be well prepared with plenty of drinking water and food.
Never hike alone and make sure to notify a friend or family member of where you intend on going hiking before you hit the trails.
In the southern region, there are eight different trails that start at around 1.8 km and up to 39 km in length. At the western end of the gorge, you can admire the amazing escarpment and the 17 Mile Valley.
22 km from Katherine, there is also an epic tropical limestone cave system (the only one in the world) – the Cutta Cutta Caves.
There are daily tours available to enter the caves and see the rare ghost bat and the horseshoe bat.
Besides all of this, there is also the Jatbula Trail, perhaps the most exciting walk on offer with its amazing hidden spots, which can take you up to 5 days to complete.
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At the western end of the gorge, you can find the Baruwei Lookout and my personal favorite viewpoint, especially at sunset.
Baruwei Lookout walk is around 1.8 km return, and the Loop walk is 4.8 km.
The trail to Baruwei Lookout is clearly marked and features a combination of concrete paths and steel staircases that lead you up the large boulders to the very top of the cliffs that envelop the gorge.
When you reach the summit, you’ll find a large wooden viewing platform that boasts extensive views over Nitmiluk National Park.
The best time to visit Baruwei Lookout is at sunset as you are able to witness the last rays of golden sunshine setting over the mountains in the distance.
RELATED ARTICLE → THINGS TO DO IN ALICE SPRINGS
KAYAKING IN THE GORGE
If you are looking for a little bit more adventure, you can choose to do some kayaking or canoeing down the gorge.
If you have the opportunity to join one of the kayaking tours, you can expect to see eagles, cockatoos, wallabies, land monitors, and if you are lucky enough maybe some freshwater crocodiles.
There are tours that can take you to explore smaller parts of Katherine River, or you can choose to dedicate a full day to exploring more of the gorge.
Do note that if you wish to enjoy the kayak and canoe experience you should aim to visit between May and December, as the levels of water can force these activities to be canceled during the other months of the year.
BOOK NOW → KATHERINE GORGE KAYAKING
WHERE TO STAY IN NITMILUK GORGE
Nitmiluk Gorge Caravan Park:
If you’re expecting to enjoy nature and appreciate the night sky, the Nitmiluk Gorge Caravan Park is the best option for accommodation.
Affordable and simple, it has all the facilities you may need, without compromising comfort.
The best thing about the campsite is that it is located just a few minutes walk from Nitmiluk Gorge so you won’t waste any time getting there.
You can choose to stay in a caravan or a permeant tent. There’s also free Wi-fi and laundry available for all guests.
Check prices and book in advance on the Nitmiluk Gorge Caravan Park website.
If you fancy a romantic getaway or a family trip with some extra features, the Nitmiluk Chalet is a perfect choice.
There are one and two-bedroom chalets available that are suitable for all types of travelers and it’s conveniently situated only 600m away from the Nitmiluk National Park Visitor Center.
Nitmiluk Chalets offer a lovely balcony where you can spend your afternoons enjoying a beautiful sunset while watching the wildlife in abundance nearby.
WHERE TO STAY IN KATHERINE
If you prefer to stay in the town, there are dozens of accommodation options to choose from in Katherine.
I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay in Katherine to fit the needs of budget backpackers, luxury travelers, and everyone in between.
See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:
LUXURY: CONTOUR HOTEL
MID-RANGE: PINE TREE MOTEL
BUDGET: PALM COURT BACKPACKERS
FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY IN KATHERINE, SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
WHAT TO PACK FOR NORTHERN TERRITORY
When visiting NT, here is a list of items I highly recommend bringing with you:
Must-Have Travel Essentials
Hidden Money Wallet
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Reusable Water Bottle
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Quick-Dry Travel Towel
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FINAL THOUGHTS – KATHERINE GORGE TOURS
I hope from this guide you’ll have all the information you need for an epic adventure to Nitmiluk National Park.
Whether you’re a solo backpacker, traveling as a couple, or whether you’re taking a trip with the entire family, a visit to this stunning gorge is a great day out.
If you have any questions at all, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
For a quicker response, be sure to join Jonny Melon’s Travel Tribe on Facebook and post your questions or recommendations to our awesome community.
TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP
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THANKS FOR READING
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This trip was in association with NT Tourism and Backyard Bandits.