Australia’s Northern Territory is home to several magnificent National Parks, one of which is Nitmiluk (meaning “place of the cicada dreaming”, or Katherine Gorge. Situated about 244 km southeast of Darwin, the area has huge ceremonial significance to the Jawoyn people, custodians of the park.
Katherine Gorge consisting of thirteen gorges, was carved through ancient sandstone by Katherine River, leaving in its wake an imposing and breathtaking sight. So how can visitors fully appreciate the sheer size of this spectacular gorge? You can explore by foot, canoe, boat or a take a helicopter flight and appreciate its majestic beauty from all angles.
We visited in the Dry Season and decided on a Nabilil Dreaming Sunset Dinner Cruise lasting 3.5 hours and showcasing the first two gorges.
Where Do You Book The Cruise And Where Does It Depart From?
Nitmiluk National Park Visitor Centre has details of all cruise options and the specialist agent Nitmiluk Tours are located here. It is advisable to book tours in advance if you are limited for time and this can be done online before you travel, at their official website.
Tours leave from the jetty which is a short stroll from the visitor centre.
What Will You See On The Sunset Cruise?
Relaxing in your seat on the small river boat, you will enjoy the tranquility on the water as you sail towards the first gorge. As you gaze at the ever changing dramatic landscape, rugged and jagged cliffs and sandy beach outcrops, your guide will be relaying the history of Katherine Gorge.
As you travel the maze of waterways, you will learn about the culture of the Jawoyn people, their traditions and Dreamtime stories that have been passed down through the generations. The silence in the gorge is incredibly atmospheric and spiritual and the scenery simply stunning.
Be sure to enjoy the stillness and peaceful silence. Our driver stopped the boat at one point and turned off the engine, and as we sat in the glorious silence, a voice pops up and asked Why have we stopped? Is there something wrong with the engine? And just like that, the spell was broken!!
After you reach the end of the first gorge, you disembark and enjoy a manageable easy walk to pick up the boat and continue your journey through the second gorge, with similarly stunning scenery.
After the boat returns from cruising along the second gorge, you disembark and join the decked out dinner boat for your slow meander back to the jetty. We were lucky that there were only a small number of us and we were seated two to a table. With tables lined with crisp white linen, waitress service is friendly, attentive but unobtrusive which makes for a great balance.
Enjoy a 3 course candle lit gourmet dinner served under the starry night sky as you watch the fading light colour the rock faces shades of red and orange as the sun sets. A glass of complimentary sparkling wine is served on arrival, and the menu gives you a choice of 3 main courses including a meat and fish option.
With a well stocked bar for you to purchase reasonably priced beer, wine and soft drinks, a toilet on board and mesmerizing aboriginal music playing softly in the background the scene was complete and it was a fantastic evening. The food was exceptional in quality and flavour and the whole experience unforgettable.
Was The Cruise Worth The Money?
A resounding YES, YES, YES!! Prices as of today are $159.50 per adult and $116.00 per child.
The scenery is arresting, glorious and dramatic, and we were lucky to spot several local wildlife. Our guide Jaimie, an aboriginal who lives on a camp nearby is extremely knowledgeable in the history of the Gorge, which is now completely owned by local aboriginals and leased to the Northern Territory government. He chatted and answered our questions regarding the Jawoyn people and how the relationship between themselves and the NT government works in running and upkeeping the National Park.
He also made a note of the music which was being played during dinner and we were able to purchase the CD online, when we returned home.
Our dinner was first class and the service impeccable, with the entire team showing consideration and professionalism throughout the entire cruise.
Are There Any Other Cruises To Choose From?
Yes, Nitmiluk Tours also offer the following cruise options :
- 2 Hour Nit Nit Dreaming 2 Gorge Cultural Cruise
- 4 Hour Timeless Land 3 Gorge Cruise
- 2 Hour Dawn Cruise
- Northern Territory government have a great fact sheet packed with information for visitors.
- More details regarding cruise options and prices are available on Nitmiluk Tours website.
- Read some fascinating facts and history about the Jawoyn People here
Would you like to cruise Katherine Gorge?
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