This is the sky that fare-welled us as we drove out of Darwin, heading towards Katherine.
Nitmiluk National Park is 244 km southeast of Darwin, around a series of gorges on the Katherine River and Edith Falls. Previously named Katherine Gorge National Park, its northern edge borders Kakadu National Park. The gorges and the surrounding landscape have great ceremonial significance to the local Jawoyn people, who are custodians of Nitmiluk National Park. In Jawoyn, Nitmiluk means “place of the cicada dreaming.
Katherine Gorge, 777 square kilometres in area, is a deep gorge carved through ancient sandstone by the Katherine River. It is 1.6 billion years old, predating land animals. Hence there are no fossilised remains to be found. The sandstone is 2 kilometres deep , the deepest spot being 45 metres, with an average depth of 7 metres.
It is the central attraction of the Park. Katherine Gorge is made up of thirteen gorges, with rapids and falls, and follows the Katherine River, which begins in Kakadu, another stunning area of the Top End.
The weather was markedly milder as we headed to the Nitmiluk National Park for the two gorge two hour river cruise of Katherine Gorge. Our tour guide was most informative and had a quick eye in spotting things to point out to curious, camera clicking tourists – such as freshwater crocodiles sunning themselves on rocks. Freshies are a lot smaller than salt water crocs and are not dangerous to humans. Any salt water crocodiles that are found in the gorges are trapped and relocated to reserves or tourist parks.
Located in small crevices in the middle of cliff faces, clusters of native trees and vegetation flourish. These plants need water year round. Even in the dry season they flourish as the sandstone leaks water year round, keeping them hydrated.
As my mobility is still not the best, I only travelled through the first gorge. To get to the next requires a bit of a climb and trek to the next boat as continuing access is blocked by rocks. I disembarked with the group.
I was all alone, surrounded by stunningly majestic cliff faces and rock pools. There were many flat rocks that served well as seats. It is difficult to put into words what it was like to be cocooned in that stillness, peace and beauty of the gorge. For a whole hour.
I am pleased to have internet access here in the motel. But it is slow and patchy. I’ve not been able to upload any of my Katherine Gorge photos. However, this video I found on YouTube captures the scenery we were immersed in beautifully. Unfortunately it won’t load up! These are my steps for peace today ….
© Raili Tanska