Nitmiluk/Katherine Gorge National Park, NT
A three-and-a-half-hour drive south of Darwin, this 293,000ha national park is rich in adventure and culture, being the home of the Jawoyn people. Nitmiluk is around a 30km drive from Katherine.
For walkers, the Big Bopper is the Jatbula Trail, although that’s over four days. But don’t despair, there are myriad tracks that range in distance from a couple of hours to overnight that offer a true insight into this park’s centrepiece: Nitmuluk (Katherine Gorge). The park’s southern section includes seven walks, with the Baruwei Lookout walk perfect for young and old adventurers, while the overnight Jawoyn Valley walk takes you to some impressive rock art.
Of course, with all that water, paddlers are very well catered for; canoeists can head further into the gorge, using either a hire canoe or bringing their own (a small fee applies for this), or you can paddle downriver in kayaks/canoes. The paddle up to Gorge 4 from the park HQ is brilliant, with steep red-rock cliffs looming overhead as you eye the water for turtles, barramundi and, perhaps, freshwater crocs. You can also camp overnight on a paddle journey in the gorge.
If you opt to visit Leliyn (Edith Falls) in the park’s western section (closer to Darwin), you can tackle day or overnight walks – or simply enjoy swimming in the two waterholes there. It’s a brilliant Top End experience.