With an awesome day at Leliyn Falls under our belts, we hit the Stuart Highway and headed on to Nitmiluk Gorge, about 30km north of Katherine. Our home for the next two nights was a dreamy eco-friendly cabin at Cicada Lodge, perched on the edge of the gorge and surrounded by perfectly tranquil bushland.
The following morning we woke to the altogether unfamiliar sights and sounds of grey skies and light drizzle, so donned our thus far-neglected raincoats, hit the dining room for an amazing breakfast of espresso, fresh figs, Greek yoghurt, and croissants, and then headed out into the rain. It was a short walk to the gorge’s main boat ramp, where we’d teed up a cruise with Nitmiluk Tours, a 100% indigenous-owned company that operates all activities in an around the gorge. Our guide Jamie was fabulously knowledgeable and shared stories about the culture and history of the area’s Jawoyn people (casually pointing out the occasional freshwater croc along the way).
While the dry season in the gorge is all about kayaking, canoes, and swimming, the wet season is known to be plagued by such perils as unpredictable water levels and ample crocodiles, largely limiting activities to boat tours and bushwalks. On the plus side, there are very few other people around, the waterfalls are heaving, and the bright green of all the vegetation looks marvellous against the vivid reds and oranges of the rocks.
After a couple of hours out on the water we headed back to the dock, stopping for a swim at the Southern Rockhole on the way – another seasonal gem where the water only flows during the wet months. It’s a pretty hectic scramble over 200m of jagged and/or slippery rocks, rapids, and rivers, but the payoff is well worth it for the secluded waterfall and pristine swimming hole at the end.
After docking we headed off along the Baruwei walking track and up 200-odd steps to check out the gorge from above, before heading back to the lodge for cheese, wine, and a spot of storm-watching.