Top of the NT: Pt 3 – Nitmiluk and Litchfield

by Steven Chater from Trip Plan Australia. Check out Trip Plan’s free Itinerary Planner that will help you make the most of your next road trip through regional and outback Australia.

Nitmiluk National Park is well known as the home of fabulous gorges on the Katherine River. There is, however, another part of Nitmiluk that’s well worth visiting – Leliyn (Edith Falls).

Nitmiluk NP extends south from the border with Kakadu National Park to just north of the town of Katherine. We’d come down the Kakadu Highway from Jabiru/Cooinda to reach the Stuart Highway at Pine Creek. The turn off to Edith Falls is 47kms south from Pine Creek.

Road trip planner Australia - Leliyan Edith Falls main pool

Main pool at Edith Falls

Aside from being a beautiful place, it’s a great spot for a swim, as long as you don’t mind the tiny fish having a little nibble at your feet!

We were assured that the moderate grade Leliyn Trail loop walk was worth it, with apparently great views and swimming available in the upper pool. However we prioritised a long swim in the main pool given the air temperature (around 33 degrees Celsius). Next time!

With a population of over 10,000, the town of Katherine has all the facilities that you’d expect. We decided to check out their Hot Springs and found them to be tucked away surrounded by a school and industrial premises :(. Still, it was very pleasant once you got down to them, with the water around 25 – 30 degrees Celsius. However if you’ve got the time I’m told that the thermal pools at Bitter Springs just out of Mataranka is the better experience (a drive south of an hour and twenty minutes).

Road trip planner Australia - Katherine hot springs

Hot springs at Katherine

The second entrance to Nitmiluk NP is 30kms north east of Katherine. The Nitmiluk Centre is where you can access the series of 13 gorges, known collectively as Katherine Gorge. Depending upon the time of the year, you can walk alongside them, swim in them, canoe them, fly over them. But by far the most common way to appreciate this beautiful area is to take a boat tour along the Katherine River.

I went for the early morning tour, which takes in the first two gorges.

The walls of gorge one are imposing …

Road trip planner Australia - Walls of gorge one Katherine Gorge Nitmiluk National Park

Walls of gorge one, Katherine Gorge

… but gorge two is even more impressive, particularly where the walls come close together

Road trip planner Australia - Heading up gorge two, Katherine Gorge, Nitmiluk National Park

Heading up gorge two, Katherine Gorge

Road trip planner Australia - gorge two, Katherine Gorge, Nitmiluk National Park

Second Gorge, home of the dreamtime’s Bolung the Rainbow Serpent, Katherine Gorge

Road trip planner Australia - Second Gorge, Katherine Gorge, Nitmiluk National Park

Second Gorge, Katherine Gorge

A great experience! As in Kakadu, the guides tell you stories of the volumes of water that rush down during the wet season. Apparently they can sometimes still conduct gorge boat tours during the wet – but numbers are restricted as they have to use a jet boat!

After this great experience it was time to head north back towards Darwin. Fortunately our trip wasn’t over as we had Litchfield National Park and Berry Springs to visit.

Litchfield is often promoted as a day trip out of Darwin, however it is a beautiful park and an overnight stay is recommended.

One of our favorite spots in Litchfield was Buley Rockhole.

Road trip planner Australia - Buley Rockhole, Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory

Buley Rockhole, Litchfield National Park

Buley’s is a series of pools that you can relax in and absorb the beautiful bush setting.

Road trip planner Australia - One of the rockholes at Buley's Rockhole, Litchfield National Park

One of the rockholes at Buley Rockhole

Our final night in the motorhome was spent in the caravan park near Berry Springs. The springs themselves and the beautiful park setting surrounding is fantastic – time for another swim!

Road trip planner Australia - Berry Springs, Northern Territory

Berry Springs

Trip Plan is all about regional and outback Australia. However I can’t leave a blog post about the top of the Northern Territory without mentioning Darwin itself. It’s a place to be experienced, and we particularly enjoyed the atmosphere of the Mindil Beach night markets – terrific setting …

Road trip planner Australia - Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, Darwin

Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, Darwin

… and one of the best spots to watch the fabulous Darwin sunsets!

Road trip planner Australia - Darwin sunset, Mindil Beach

Darwin sunset, Mindil Beach

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Road trip planner Australia - full 8 day Top End trip, Kakadu, Nitmiluk, Litchfield

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