Nitmiluk National Park (formerly Katherine Gorge National Park) offers vast sandstone cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and a series of 13 gorges carved out by the mighty Katherine River. All of this dramatic scenery is located on the ancient lands of the Jawoyn people and is home to some impressive Aboriginal rock art sites.
Visitors to the Nitmiluk National Park come to marvel at the stunning scenery, hike along the gorge, or take a boat ride on the Katherine River. Most day tours include a sightseeing cruise, with a chance to spot crocodiles, waterfalls, and Jawoyn rock art. Tours also visit Leliyn (Edith Falls), where visitors can swim beneath the waterfalls. For the most spectacular views, opt for a helicopter flight over the gorge.
With time to spare, multi-day tours let you explore farther afield and camp out in the park. Some tours from Darwin combine a tour of Katherine Gorge with a visit to other must-see spots in the Top End, such as Litchfield National Park, Arnhem Land, or Kakadu National Park.
Things to Know Before You Go
- There are a number of accommodation options close to the park, as well as both powered and non-powered campsites within the park.
- Bring comfortable shoes, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, and plenty of water, as well as your swimsuit, if you plan to swim at the water holes.
- The Nitmiluk Park Visitor Centre has restrooms, a café-restaurant, gift shop, free Wi-Fi, charging stations, and an ATM.
- Only swim in designated areas and heed all warning notices; crocodiles are common throughout the park.
- Some of the park’s boat cruises and lookout points are wheelchair accessible, but it’s recommended to visit with a guide.
How to Get There
Nitmiluk National Park is located at the north end of the Northern Territory, 220 miles (350 kilometers) southeast of Darwin, or a 4-hour drive along the Stuart Highway. The easiest access point is the town of Katherine, from which it’s a 30-minute drive. There is no public transport to the park, so the only way to visit is with your own vehicle or by joining a guided tour from Darwin or Katherine.
When to Get There
The park is swarmed by visitors in the dry season (May to September), when an early morning arrival is a must to beat the crowds. In the wet season (November to March), the river goes into spate, and swimming and canoeing can be restricted, as can access to the roads.
Outdoor Activities in Nitmiluk National Park
Enjoy a sunset cruise on the Katherine River, paddle along the waterways in a canoe, go fishing, or take a swim in a remote water hole. For hikers, the 41-mile (66-kilometer) Jatbula Trail is the ultimate achievement; the trail runs from the Katherine Gorge to Edith Falls and takes at least five days to complete. There are a number of shorter hikes, too, including popular trails to Barumei Lookout, the Southern Rockhole, and Sweetwater Pool.