Pine Creek, Katherine Gorge and Cutta Cutta Caves
Before leaving the Jabiru area we stopped off at Mirrai Lockout, parked up the motorhome and a 20 minute walk up to the hilltop was rewarded with panoramic views of across Kakadu to the Arnhem Land escarpments on the other side of the East Alligator river.
We had thought about Jim Jim Falls however as it was accessible only via a 2 hour journey on an unsealed road it was off the agenda with our motorhome – no motorhome or campervan rental can be driven on unsealed roads (unless entering a camping ground or something similar and over a short distance). The Jim Jim Falls road as with many in the park is closed during the wet becoming impassable. As we drove south we crossed countless dry river beds all with the rather telling sign “Don’t linger on bridge and no fishing”, Crocs never seemed to be far away,
Lunch at the Lazy Lizard Resort in Pine Creek was everything you expect from a great Outback pub. Great food and décor to match. Amazing wooden troughs as basins in the toilets, outdoor pool tables and backpacking Germans serving behind the counter!
Having filled up with fuel it was on down the Stuart highway for the 70 minute drive to Katherine. This was our next stocking up point with a trip to Katherine’s large Woolies supermarket (in the main street on the left at the southern end of town) and then we checked in to the Katherine Big 4 , another great holiday park, plenty of space, pool & spar, surprisingly slightly more expensive than Jabiru (our Maui rental came with discounted rates at Big4 Parks) but still great value and excellent facilities including the best equipped kitchens of our trip. In fact we found the facilities wherever we went so good that our motorhome’s cooker had a holiday and was hardly used.
Of course no visit to Katherine is complete without a cruise through Katherine Gorge or to give it’s correct name Nitmiluk Gorge which sits in the Nitmiluk National Park belonging to the local Jawoyn people. We pre-booked online for convenience sake – $244 for the 4 of us and settled on the 2 Gorge tour – all very much dependent upon water levels.
There’s been plenty written about Katherine Gorge or Gorges as there are 13 in all, needless to say they lived up to expectations. You can hire Kayaks and make your own way down and it’s safe to swim in with only harmless and rather shy small freshwater crocs present.
The other expedition we mounted in Katherine was to drive 30kms south on the Stuart highway and visit Cutta Cutta Caves.
Only discovered in 1910 by a drover whose cattle disappeared into sink holes, the caves extend back 450 metres although only 250 are open to the public – the humid conditions and ammonia make it too dangerous to venture deeper. The local aboriginal clan named the caves Cutta Cutta meaning many stars after the sparkling calcium deposits found within. As it totally flooded during the wet season the cave system was not occupied by aboriginals and has no rock art.
The tour is short and there’s not a huge amount to see, however our guide did show how absolutely and totally dark it becomes when he shutdown the lighting system – the average person lasts 30 minutes before their mind begins to play tricks, we were gladed normal service was resumed after 2!
We travelled the Top End in a 6 berth Maui Motorhome.You can learn more about campervan hire in the Northern territory on the DriveNow Darwin pages.