Smithsdownunder
Our journeys around Australia

29-May-2005
   

Now we have reached Katherine, we can slow up a bit to take in some of the numerous national parks in the region. We started with Nitmiluk National Park and the Katherine Gorge. This is a deep gorge formed by ancient earth movements that left a deep cleft in the sandstone. We rented a canoe and explored about 6kms of the gorge.

( 6kms up the gorge and 6kms back, it took 4 hours and caused severe knackering of the body but was good fun. The immense size of this gorge was unbelievable).

We also learnt a new word 'Portage' which is canoe speak for 'scramble over large slippery boulders up to your neck in water towing a canoe through the rapids'. In the section of the gorge that we visited, there was a portage section with three waterfalls we had to scramble over in order to travel further upstream. Portage - dragging a canoe up the rapids against the current! Going up was quite difficult against the current; coming back it was a bit easier. My white water rafting training from Tully came in useful on the way back.

'Portage' in Katherine Gorge
Katherine Gorge

The water level changes a lot from one season to the next. In the wet season, the water can be over 9mtrs higher and flowing at 40knots. It was very shallow near the falls but a couple of hundred metres further back the water is 30mtrs deep apparently.

Katherine Gorge

The scenery is quite spectacular with towering cliffs, side creeks, waterfalls and caves. There are some enormous trees that seem to grow straight out of the rock face. Every now and again we would pass a sandy beach but a lot of them had signs asking you to keep off them as freshwater crocs had laid eggs there. We obeyed the signs! The beach where crocs were nesting
Katherine Gorge We didn't see any crocs, just the old ones in the canoe.

Meanwhile, back at the campsite, this chap popped in to say hello. It's a Blue Faced Honeyeater according to the caravan's resident ornithologist.

Blue Faced Honeyeater

Blue Faced Honeyeater
Fruit Bats

An 'Agile Wallaby' tried to get in the caravan looking for food and nearby, fruit bats chattered in the treetops.

Fruit Bats at Katherine Gorge