From the oasis of Bitter Springs and Mataranka we continued north … but not very far. Our next stop is Katherine, just an hour away. We’ve already become familiar with the town due to my recent phone dramas but this time we’re staying for a couple of days.
It’s a hot one again so after checking in and doing some laundry we have a swim at the local thermal Springs, stock up at the supermarket and chill out with a picnic lunch at the Low Level Nature Reserve by the river. We don’t swim here though, there are “Danger, Be Crocwise” signs everywhere, and no local Indigenous kids are swimming, always a sign it’s not safe. Still, it doesn’t stop some silly buggers.
Our highlight in Katherine is the Katherine River Gorge cruise the next day. We’d booked it a few days earlier and were looking forward to seeing firsthand the magnificence on the river. She didn’t disappoint.
Waking with the birds on the second day we made our way to the Nitmiluk National Park Centre where all the action happens. We have to walk to the boat amid thousands of bats that live high up in the trees but thankfully they don’t bother us.
On board dawn is just breaking and orange is lighting up the sky. The reflections on the water are glistening and it’s oh so tranquil.
The boat is only half full and our rather cute guide Harley is a wealth of info as we cruise along the river and he explains the history, the formations, the Dreamtime lore and how the setting has been a MasterChef location! We cruise, hop off the boat and walk through a gorge that takes us to a second barge which takes us through a narrower part of the Gorge. It’s breathtaking, a magical two hours and we love every minute.
The next day we travel even less. I think we’ve turned into semi grey nomads! Barely 45 kilometres from Katherine we pull off the Stuart Highway and within half an hour we reach Leilyn/Edith Falls. It’s first in best dressed at this campsite and we’re thrilled with our allocated campsite for the next three nights. If Bitter Springs was an oasis Edith Falls is a new kind of heaven.
The park feels like a botanical garden and our spacious unpowered site is grassy and shady. The kiosk close by has ice cream, home made food plus wifi. There’s no other connection here except with nature. It’s a 150 metre walk to a huge swimming hole, circled by pandanus trees, it’s back drop is red rock gorge formations and a waterfall lies at its centre. We swim here every day. With the noodles we bought at Bitter Sorings it’s easy to reach the waterfall.
Here we found paradise.
This is Jawoyn country where nature is very much part of culture. Perhaps that’s why I felt so at one and at peace. Immersed and connected with what’s real and what’s important.
With all the turmoil and craziness in the world today there’s one surety and one thing that never lies. Nature is real. The energy that surrounds us is pure and true. And God, Source, Creation, whatever you want to call it, is at the centre of it all. When we tap into the energy that surrounds us and let go of all the distractions, Mother Nature can teach us so much: acceptance, trust, discernment and respect.
Being in the water with a lizard/water monitor that passed me by would have once freaked me out. Strangely it didn’t and as the not so little fella swam by me and scampered up the red gorge wall near where I was sitting I looked on in awe. Okay, maybe there was a teensy “yikes” moment but he was definitely no croc!
Immersed in Nature
During our three days there were lots of simple interactions. I sat on rocks and watched as red and blue dragonflies landed nearby. We swam amid hundreds of tiny fish, beside waterfalls, communing with nature and walking up a sweat as we hiked eight kilometres to the remote Sweetwater Pool before cooling off.
Nitmiluk National Park is larger than life with its red earth, abundant waterfalls, vivid green rainforests, crystal clear waters and dazzling sunsets. It has big views but it’s the small things that make every day special: gratitude, a knowing that everything’s ok even when it feels hard, a willingness to see things differently, a respect of country and being able to unearth the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Our road trip continues in the Top End. We’re making our itinerary up as we go but finding no shortage of places that keep wowing us. This red earth is getting under my skin.
Wherever you are in the world I wish you joy and your own kind of bliss. There’s a lot of beauty out there but you have to want to see it. Go outside, take off your shoes and ground yourself within the earth, look up at the sky, hug a tree and give thanks for our precious planet. She’s given us so much it’s time to thank her in return, to enjoy her treasures and live in harmony with her gifts.
See you next time, somewhere up in the awe inspiring Top End of Australia.
Sending big love