Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

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Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby Lizzy » Mon 30 Jun, 2014 1:45 pm

I have just returned from an amazing trip to the NT where I did a packraft trip up Nitmiluk (Katherine ) Gorge followed by the Jatbula Trail.
After flying into Darwin at some ridiculous hour I caught a few zzzz's in the back of my hire car before zipping down to the gorge. A quick pack of gear and inflation of the packraft & I was away. There was a strong headwind which I thought was going to be problematic but ended up ok with the pack on the front. After paddling past a big croc trap I suddenly heard the ominous sound of air bubbling quickly into water. After a bit of panic I reAlised it was just the seat- phew!!!!
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The gorges were amazing! There are 9 gorges with rocky port ages between them. This is where the packraft came into its own. While others dragged and scrapped thru I put my pack on and popped the raft under an arm and I was away! Rock hopping over with ease :D lots of jealous canoers about :mrgreen:
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By the time I got to the 4th Gorge campsite it was getting on so time to call it quits for the day. There were a few others camped on the sandy beach including a couple of young Outdoor Ed'ers from Darwin who were interested in the raft. Delightful spot.
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4th Gorge campsite
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Next day I paddled up to the 7th gorge against another strong headwind whipping down thru the gorge. But it was nice floating back to the 4th for my second night.
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Next day I wAs off early to get back as it was time to quickly reshuffle gear and start the Jatbula Trail!
Awesome trip in some beautiful country....
Last edited by Lizzy on Mon 30 Jun, 2014 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby Lizzy » Mon 30 Jun, 2014 1:46 pm

A couple more shots....
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby north-north-west » Mon 30 Jun, 2014 2:27 pm

Now that was a waste. A bit of extra time and you could have gone right up past the rockpile at the top of the ninth gorge. It's lovely and quiet that far up.
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby Lizzy » Mon 30 Jun, 2014 3:59 pm

It was lovely & quiet everywhere I went :)
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby north-north-west » Mon 30 Jun, 2014 4:19 pm

Meh, sharing a campsite with someone else isn't my definition of 'quiet'.
Is that the Alpacka? I seem to recall you getting one. Definitely the right way to do Nitmiluk - slower paddling than the plastic fantastics, but much faster portage.

Water level looks about the same as my last trip up. It's more fun when it's higher - some of those rapids are a real buzz on the way down . . .
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby Lizzy » Mon 30 Jun, 2014 4:33 pm

Yep it's the Alpacka Yak- seemed to go along as fast as anyone else :) & way faster & easier for the portages. water level was too low to run any of the rapids. Had the Jatbula to myself except 1 night so definitely won't complain about a few people in the gorge- actually I enjoyed it- only half a dozen the first night and 2 others the second.
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby Nuts » Tue 01 Jul, 2014 12:08 pm

Wow, looks like a great adventures. Swimming outdoors in winter :shock: I remember swimming.. :(
:) well done.
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby philm » Tue 01 Jul, 2014 1:03 pm

Any crocs in the gorge or do they clear them out in the dry season?
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby north-north-west » Tue 01 Jul, 2014 2:18 pm

There are plenty of freshies in there, but once the wet is over they usually move on any salties that arrive. Mind you, the freshies get pretty big even if they are supposedly not a danger to people. These things were bigger than me (about twice the size, actually), which is plenty big enough when they have the sort of teeth they do:
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby philm » Tue 01 Jul, 2014 2:25 pm

Plenty big enough!
how do you go swimming?
How about camping on the sandy beaches at night? - I gues the main danger with crocs is when you are in the water.
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby north-north-west » Tue 01 Jul, 2014 4:12 pm

philm wrote:Plenty big enough!
how do you go swimming?
How about camping on the sandy beaches at night? - I gues the main danger with crocs is when you are in the water.

Freshies are generally considered to not be a major danger to humans. The standard is "you don't bother them and they won't bother you". Nesting beaches are posted and anyone with any sense keeps off them (except to sneak up and take a few covert photos from a good getaway spot). You just swim elsewhere. I've had four paddling trips at Nitmiluk and a fair few days with swimming in the river on walks, and never had any problems. It's not something to worry about unless there are warnings about the presence of salties.
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby weeds » Fri 17 Apr, 2015 2:00 pm

Thanks for the report.......
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby simonm » Fri 17 Apr, 2015 2:42 pm

Awesome trip, thanks for sharing. Great idea with the packraft.

Last time I was at the gorge, they hadn't quite cleared it for swimming or kayaking yet, though one brave soul was out in the middle doing some laps :shock:. An older Aboriginal lady was nearby fishing for turtle, and said with a pretty wicked smile there was still a big croc in there. I chose to listen to her.
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby Lizzy » Sat 06 Jun, 2015 2:35 pm

Anyone walked the rim track to the 8th gorge? Considering this with 9 and 11 year old. Trying to decide whether to just paddle or walk and paddle.....
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby north-north-west » Sat 06 Jun, 2015 3:52 pm

Yes.

Give yourself plenty of time. There are good campsites en route as well as on some of the sidetrips. Can get to the 8th Gorge campsite in an easy day (if it isn't too hot), even with the Jawoyn loop and one of the other sidetrips, but that would be too much for the kids. There's also good camping away from the official sites (8th Gorge is a classic - head through the campsite and up onto the scarp edge. Great place to overnight). Water is the thing to watch. Fill up at every tank, and anywhere there's free-standing water on the way.

Trouble is, the same insane permit system applies as for overnight paddles. And this really bugs me - they carry on about doing the bulk of the walking as early as possible to escape the worst heat of the day, and then have a permit application system that makes it impossible to get away on an overnighter before 10am. Oh, but if you want to push it and do the exact same walk in a single day, you don't need permits.
And then they insist that the permit system is to ensure your safety . . . :roll:
Sorry, no more ranting. But the whole thing really is just so ridiculously illogical.
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby north-north-west » Sat 06 Jun, 2015 4:07 pm

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Carpark to Dunlop Swamp would be an easy day for the kids. It's a very pleasant area, albeit away from the scarp.
From there to 8th Gorge is another easy day - about 8km. Roughest part of the track is the descent between the two legs of the Jawoyn loop, and that's pretty short. Almost all the rest is vehicle track.
If you haven't done any of the sidetrips they are all worth doing. Butterfly Gorge and Smitts are my favourites, but if the water level is high enough the Rockhole is stunning. Lily Ponds is lovely too.
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby Lizzy » Sat 06 Jun, 2015 7:00 pm

Thanks for the info NNW. Is there any swimming at Dunlop Swamp? Or is it more swampy? Swimming will be the selling point for the kids. I agree the permit system is annoying.....something to look forward too :roll:
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby north-north-west » Sun 07 Jun, 2015 8:31 am

Waterholes aren't that deep at Dunlop - it's more of a splash around spot - but there's plenty of good swimming at the other sites. 8th Gorge waterhole is big enough, plus the pools on the Lily Ponds walk & the Southern Rockhole. Butterfly and Smitts tracks both get you to the river, as does the extension from the 8th campsite.
You've been to Sweetwater, when you did the Jatbula. Kids would probably love a night camping up there, too. Short enough walk up from Leliyn, very good campsite, terrific swimming/sunbaking spot. Great birdlife, wildflowers, etc etc etc.
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby Lizzy » Sun 07 Jun, 2015 6:06 pm

Yeah am planning on an overnighter to Sweetwater :)
Think I might just stick with the paddle at Nitmiluk- carrying all the gear with packrafts and PFDs etc may be a bit much... Thanks for all the tips- if it was just me its a lot easier but don't want to turn the boys off!!
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby north-north-west » Mon 08 Jun, 2015 11:05 am

There is a campsite at Smitts with easy access to the river, and you'd have no trouble getting in there in one day. Not that far from Dunlop.
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Re: Nitmiluk Gorge June 2014

Postby Lizzy » Sun 16 Aug, 2015 3:52 pm

A bit slack but we did manage to get up to the NT in July & had a superb time! The kids were a great age for it (11&9).
We spent 3 days paddling the gorge camping both nights at the 4th Gorge. Had it all to ourselves :)
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