Walks in Nitmiluk National Park

Heat warning

Temperatures across the Northern Territory can be very hot between October and April.

It can exceed 40 degrees celsius in some locations. High humidity in the Top End can also make you tire easily.

Check forecast temperatures before you visit. Find out how to prepare and stay safe in the heat.

Explore Katherine Gorge and the surrounding escarpment along the Baruwei and Southern Walks.

The network of tracks starts near the Nitmiluk Centre with a climb onto the rocky escarpment.

Choose a walk that suits your level of fitness and be prepared. Sections of the trails are shared with mountain bikes, walk with care.

Don't start the Southern Walks unless properly equipped and make sure you are on the right track.

You should always let someone responsible know where you are going and when you will be back.

There is long-term parking at the ranger station.

Get the Nitmiluk National Park Southern Walks information sheet PDF (2.5 MB).

Get the Nitmiluk National Park Baruwei Lookout and Loop Walks information sheet. PDF (1.1 MB).

Permits and fees

You need a permit for overnight walks in Nitmiluk National Park.

Get in early and book your spot in advance by email, phone or in person from 7:30am to 4pm, 7 days a week.

There is a limit of ten people per site.

Camping costs $4.00 per person per night.

You can only camp at Dunlop Swamp, Smitt Rock and Eighth Gorge.

You must attend a pre-departure briefing. This is available daily between 7:30am to 1pm at the Nitmiluk Centre.

How to book

Choose any of the below to book your permit and pay for your camping:

By email


In person

Park Information Desk in the Nitmiluk Centre.
Open daily from 7:30am to 2pm.

After 2pm, you can book at Nitmiluk Ranger Station.
Open daily from 2pm to 4pm.

By phone

08 8973 8821

What you should take

Walkers should have all of the following equipment:

  • three litres of water per person
  • sturdy footwear and thick socks
  • a broad-brimmed hat and sunscreen
  • a basic first-aid kit
  • a pocket knife
  • insect repellent and a mosquito net
  • matches or a lighter
  • a gas or fuel stove, as open fires are not permitted
  • some form of emergency communication such as a satellite phone or personal locator beacon - do not rely on mobile phones.

Trail conditions

All walks are graded. Read more about the walking track grading system to work out what walk is best for you.

Stay on the marked trail. There are trail markers roughly every 20m to 50m.

All intersections are marked with sign posts. If you have walked for 100m without seeing a marker, go back to the last marker and find the next marker.

It can be very hot between September and December. Temperatures on the escarpment are often 10 Celsius hotter than near the river.

Walk in the cool of the day and drink plenty of water.

Write in the log book at Dunlop Swamp. This can help rangers find you in an emergency.

Southern walks

WalkDistanceTimeFeaturesGrade Water available
Baruwei Walk 1.8km 1 hour Views of the picnic area, Katherine Gorge and 17 Mile Valley Grade 3 - moderate Visitor centre or from tanks at the top of the hill
Baruwei Walk via lookout 4.8km 2 hours Continue walking from the lookout along the escarpment and back down towards the visitor centre Grade 3 - moderate

Visitor centre or from tanks at the top of the hill

Waleka Walk 14km one way - Pat's Lookout to Eighth Gorge walk Two to three days Spectacular views of the second gorge from Jeddas Rock and the upper gorge area. Traverses the sandstone escarpment through rock platforms and gullies. Grade 5 - difficult Water tanks and river at designated campsites. Boil river water before use.
Windolf via Yambi Walk 8.4km 3.5 hours Views of the lower gorge from Pat's Lookout.
Seasonal swimming in the river. Seasonal waterfall at Southern Rockhole.
Grade 3 - moderate Water tank at the Windolf Walk junction
Butterfly Gorge via Yambi Walk 12km 4.5 hours Shaded gorge with butterflies and rainforest leading into Katherine Gorge. Deep water, seasonal swimming. Grade 3 - moderate Water tank at the Butterfly Gorge trail junction
Lily Ponds via Yambi Walk 19.8km 6.5 hours Creekside walk with views of lower gorge.
Seasonal Lily Pond Falls and seasonal swimming in the river.
Grade 4 - moderate to difficult Water tank at Lily Ponds junction
Smitt Rock via Yambi Walk (Dunlop Swamp camping) 23.6km
8.5 hours Seasonal swimming below Dunlop Swamp and at Smitt Rock. Gorge views. Emergency call devices at Dunlop Swamp and Smitt Rock. Grade 4 - moderate to difficult Water tank at Lily Ponds or Smitt Rock junction
Eighth Gorge via Yambi Walk 33.2km 2 days Good view of the upper gorge area. Large valley with extensive rock outcrops. Emergency call device. Seasonal swimming in river and at campsite. Grade 4 - moderate to difficult Water tank at Smitt Rock junction
Jawoyn Valley via Yambi Walk 39km 2 to 3 days Galleries of Jawoyn paintings. Large valley with extensive rock outcrops. Grade 4 - moderate to difficult Water tanks at Smitt Rock and Eighth Gorge junctions

Last updated: 23 February 2022

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