“ Country: Australia / Country Region: Northern Territory / World Region: Australasia / Pacific „
THE KATHERINE GORGE AND NITMILUK NATIONAL PARK
Katherine is a mining town in the Northern Territory of Australia there is not alot in the actual town but the reason for coming here is to experience the surrounding area and the Nitmiluk National Park.
We were in to the coach for 7.30 and off to Katherine Gorge for our gorge boat ride. The area where you board the boat is set up for picnics with BBQs and tables with chairs and there were nice clean toilets areas too which we made good use of. There was no reception area to speak of or any gift shop so you just had to wait around out in the open. We were entertained by the flying foxes hanging in the trees; every now and then one would fly across to another tree then fold himself up and hang from a branch again. They are really quite large bats but they d not seem to mind sleeping in the daylight rather than in dark caves. You had to be a little careful of going under the trees as they were not too bothered about dropping sticky poos of whatever colour fruit they had been eating the night before .
The boat was a sort of flat raft like thing with a canvas roof. It was quite an overcast day and so sunscreen and hats were not really needed I coped without my sunglasses which was lucky as I had accidently left them on the plane from Perth to Darwin. The trip took us through the gorge and then we stopped at the end of the first gorge and had a walk over the rocks so that we could see some Aboriginal paintings and also see up and down the gorge. We were there in January 2009, the rainy season and because there had been quite a lot of rain the gorges were full and we were only able to go into the first gorge which was a little disappointing
We got back in the boat and headed just back through the gorge for a few minutes before getting off again for a rock hopping walk to a waterfall and rock pool. It was safe to swim here because there was no way a croc could get to the waterhole - it was isolated from other water and we had to walk (climb and scramble) about 20minutes over rocks to get there. Some young people swam but we had no towels and would have had to sit in our wet clothes for the rest of the day so we didn't. It looked idyllic, a bit like a shampoo advert and we sat and admired the view before clambering back across the rocks. My husband was particularly able to admire the young lithe female members of the group swimming and sunning themselves on the rocks beside the pool. Some of the young men were quite entertaining too. One couple were particularly entertaining as she kept doing model poses( throwing her head back and lying with her arm up to her head) for him to photograph - I offered to do the same for my husband and he laughed!!
THE FORMATION OF THE GORGE:
The boat had two driver/guides and they provided an esky of cool water for us to help ourselves to. One of the guides was of Aboriginal descent and told us how Aboriginal people believed the gorge was formed.
A dragon like creature - Narla brought a billy of water and some fire sticks and wandered across the top end. He was rather selfish and wouldn't share it with the rest of the animals so eventually one speared him and the billy spilled our forming the gorges and he dropped the fire sticks - those grew to the pandanus palms there. He was quite entertaining with his commentary and told us a lot about how the Aboriginal people use the local plants. The silver leaved paperbark leaves can be boiled up and a poultice made for wounds, that liquid can also be drunk as a tea which is good for sore throats.
This gorge is in Nitmiluk National Park which means Land of the Cicadas in the local Aboriginal dialect.
We continued in this National Park to Edith Falls where the pools were so full that no swimming was allowed and the falls were actually quite short - not too far to fall to the waterhole at all. This is a very popular swimming hole for the people of Darwin but when the pools are this full swimming is not allowed because crocodiles are then able to travel in to the pools via the swollen river. Once the rainy season is over and the pools are once again cut off from incoming rivers, they are checked for crocs before they are opened for safe swimming once again. This was quite a pleasant picnic and BBQ spot and there were other groups enjoying these facilities but this was not on our agenda we could have an ice-cream or coffee before continuing to Pine Creek for our lunch.
PINE CREEK AGAIN:
We stopped at a place called Mase's in Pine Creek ( a sort of fast food in outback Oz style eatery) which offered a wide selection of foods and there was a pub next door. We ate our picnic of crisps, apple water and biscuits that we'd bought in Darwin. Pine Creek is a town that grew up when they were building the railway from Adelaide to Darwin. While they were digging for the railway someone found gold... thousands flocked to the tiny 'town' in the middle of nowhere looking for the gold. A few made their fortunes and many found nothing, some stayed including a Chinese family who were running the local general store. Descendants of this family still run this very interesting shop which sells a huge selection of items from a large shed - like building. It looks like a set for an old movie from the 1800s - definitely caught in a time warp. The Ghan train from Adelaide to Darwin still passes through this sleepy outback town.
ROAD TRAINS AND TERMITE MOUNDS:
As we left Pine Creek we saw a number of the wonderful road trains which are lorries with 2/3/4 trailers behind them. They work fine in outback Australia as the roads are straight and there are virtually no turns to manoeuvre these huge beasts around. Heaven only knows what they would do if they took a wrong turn as there is no way they could turn around in any normal area. We also stopped to take a photo of the huge Cathedral termite mounds but could not get too close as the ground around them was extremely soggy and then we made our way back to Darwin for the night.
The Nitmiluk National Park is also in the Northern territory of Australia but its main attraction is the Katherine Gorge. We were told on several occasions that the rainy season is not the best time to come to the area as the wildlife are more difficult to see, the transportation is more tricky with flooded roads etc and we found the gorge is not passable beyond the first gorge either. Floods mean that the crocodiles can get to areas that they do not normally inhabit so you cannot swim in some waterholes. Luckily for us they had no had huge rainfall but there was enough to stop us doing a few things. So if you are thinking of going up to the Northern territory it might be better to go in their winter when it is cooler and drier.
Having said that we had a wonderful time and experienced a taste of outback Australia in the short time we were in the area. I would certainly recommend visiting this part of Australia if you want to see something of the real outback Australia which you do not really get in Sydney, Perth or some of the other quite modern cities of Australia.
Thank you for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my name.
Northern Territory / Australia