Nitmiluk is the Jawoyn name for Katherine Gorge, located about 30km north of the Katherine. The Jawoyn people are the Traditional Owners of the area now known as Nitmiluk National Park which is also home to NT’s newest mountain bike trails.
The first two of five mountain bike trails were officially opened in July 2020, as part of the State’s ambition to attract more of an already growing adventure tourism market. The two looped trails total over 10km and were designed in consultation with the Jawoyn Traditional Owners to further enhance the visitor experience in this ancient park. The 5.7km Jalkwarak trail caters for beginners, while the 4.4km Jatete trail offers more challenging terrain to suit more experienced riders.
Fast forward to February 2021 and the new trails are complete; 20km of singletrack overlooking the Katherine River and breathtaking Nitmiluk Gorge. There are some nice flowing sections mixed in with some creek crossings and some more challenging technical sections over rock slabs.
The project supported Aboriginal jobs throughout planning and construction and provides further employment opportunities with ongoing maintenance works. Arnhem MLA and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Selena Uibo said, "It's important to note this park continues to be a standout example of collaboration in our community, with the Nitmiluk Tours board driving the changes in a way which is culturally representative, and considerate of Country. These significant upgrades to Nitmiluk National Park, in partnership with Jawoyn Association Aboriginal Corporation, is a great example of how the government can work with Traditional Owners, drawing upon thousands of years of knowledge and wisdom, to improve the visitor experience in the NT.”
And improve the experience they did. The landscape was equally challenging to build the trails as it is breathtaking. The expansive rocky plateau has chasms dropping down into the gorge system that put the design and construction team to the test. The result of that is a trail network that takes you on a thrilling adventure, riding on the edge of a cliff face that drops into the river. Breathtaking. Literally. And after a dusty day on the trails, there’s no better way to unwind than a swim in the spectacular Nitmiluk Gorge.
The Black Russian Caravan Bar is the local’s favourite go-to for coffee and the best toasties in the Top End. They’re open from 6:30am until 2:00pm. In the park itself, there are two mountain bike hubs with bike repair stations, orientation signage and seating under a large shelter. Check out the trail map here.