Nitmiluk National Park is crossed by the Katherine River which carved in the surrounding desert, 13 amazing gorges. With cliff faces 60 meters tall, torrents, beaches and clear waters, these gorges hold a great significance for the local Jawoyn population who are in charge of the Park and the Etith waterfall.
The word “Nitmiluk” is a Jawoyn word which means “the place where crickets dream”. As far as legend goes, Bolung -the rainbow serpent- lives even to this day at the bottom of of the second gorge’s lakes and tourists must take care not to wake him up.
The vertical walls show how the Katherine River has cut his way through the ancient fracture lines some more than two million years ago. On top of the plateau and among the bogs and swamps, grow dense forests of eucalyptus trees. The park holds a large number of endangered plant species as well as several birds. The Katherine Gorge also acts as a breeding ground for the fresh water crocodile and a permanent habitat for the kangaroo and dingo species.
Over 100 kilometers of trails crisscross the park. Among them there’s one which lasts for five days, all the way to Edith waterfall. At the bottom of this waterfall, a large number of plants and birds call it their home. Many of these birds are aquatic.
In 1862, the Scottish explorer John McDouall Stuart crossed the river in his sixth expedition in Australia. He named the river after a daughter of one of his patrons who was financing the expedition. During the rainy season, water levels car rise by 18 meters, transforming the river into a real torrent.
The gorges can be explored by canoe and flat bottomed boat. In the dry season the gorges become separated as the level of the river falls. They are interconnected in the wet one. There are two permanent campgrounds where there are both tent and caravan sites. Both fires and bush camping are permitted.