Day 112 – Katherine Gorge   Leave a comment

© mike moruzi | insearchofstyle.wordpress.comWay up north in Australia, toward the top end of the Northern Territory, is a little town called Katherine. Its population of just under 6,000 people actually makes it the fourth largest town in the Territory. It’s the only major settlement between Alice Springs and Darwin, which tells you something about population density in the Territory since Katherine is 1400km north of Alice Springs and over 300km south of Darwin. Agriculture, mining, a local air force base and tourism keep the town’s economy going.

The tourists come to see the nearby Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park. The gorge is, in fact, 16 separate gorges, and tourists typically only see the first few. The Katherine Gorge is in Jawoyn territory. Jawoyn are the traditional aboriginal owners of the land. Travelling through the gorge provides people with access to ancient aboriginal rock paintings and some insight into how the aboriginal people lived in this area.

The beliefs of the aboriginal people are explained in stories at signposts in the park. Some of these stories describe how the gorge was formed, the source of the water and the name of the park. The name ‘Nitmiluk’ comes from the sound of the cicada (‘nit nit nitnit’). It was given to the land by Nabilil, a dragon-like creation being from the Jawoyn Dreamtime who is said to have camped at the entrance to the gorge.

The local aboriginal people grant permission for boat tours to run through the gorges. This is only possible during the Dry season. During the Wet season, the water levels can rise by as much as 18m making the gorge impassable. I recommend trying the sunset dinner cruise as the light in the gorge is outstanding. Dinner on the boat, as the sun set and our boat became a little island in complete darkness, was a unique and thrilling experience.

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