LEILYN, NITMILUK NP
Located just a few kilometres off the Stuart Hwy and 60km north of Katherine is Leliyn. Leliyn lies within Nitmiluk National Park and consists of a campground, swimming hole, a few waterfalls and a few walking trails.
Arriving in the car park, the shimmer of the lower pool and sound of gushing water weaves its way through the lush tropical banks to greet you.
Honestly, when we reached the banks of the pool I was let down. I had heard so much about Leliyn, it just didn’t live up to the grandeur I had constructed in my head; plus swimming was closed as it was out of season and the risk of crocs was high.
So, why has Leliyn made it to the list? Simply for ‘Leliyn Trail’ the short walking loop. This walk is a must-do in anyone’s books. You traverse through the pristine tropical savannah woodland with crystal trickling streams making their way through a bed of dancing moss and algae. You ramble with grass above your head, you scramble over rocks and you get to peer over waterfalls and the surrounding country right as the sun sinks into the horizon.
Through the sporty Leliyn Trail, you have access to the top pool, which fills from a waterfall at the eastern end and empties through another at the western end. It’s a natural infinity pool. It’s up high, situated above any terrain that the not-so-nimble crocodile can negotiate, which usually means safe swimming year round.
If you have spent too much time in the 4WD travelling along that arduous Stuart Highway there is another return walk to Sweetwater Pool which will give your body a good chance to get moving again.
If you have the time and resources, camping overnight at Sweetwater is allowed with a permit. If you plan to camp you must be self-sufficient and carry all your own gear in. The campground provides just a pit toilet, pristine pool (where many collect and treat water for drinking) and a piece of paradise to lay your head on.
TOP & ABOVE: The natural theme park of Nitmiluk National Park is a winner for families, chiefly because the scenery constantly jolts the curiosity of the kids.
Katherine is just an hour or so north of Mataranka and on the doorstep of destinations such as Darwin, Kakadu and Litchfield, many times we had driven through thinking all it really had to offer was an opportunity to fill up on supplies, get cheap fuel and a decent coffee. How wrong we were!
We discovered Katherine is really a hub for adventurous people who live for getting out. Nitmiluk Gorge also known as Katherine Gorge is the ideal testament of this.
Nitmiluk Gorge is just 20 minutes northeast of Katherine and comprises of 13 separate gorges enclosed by sheer rock walls up to 70m high on either side. Through the gorges you can cruise, canoe, swim, hike, and (you can’t forget) fly.
We cruised through two gorges and were just gobsmacked by the majestic grandeur. Canoeing through here would be incredible!
There are many walking trails in Nitmi-luk of varying lengths from a few hundred metres to the almighty 62km Jatbula. Jatbula connects Nitmiluk to Leliyn along the ancient route taken by Jawoyn people.
Just quietly I have not done the epic Jatbula Trail so can’t really talk for it but, from what I have heard and seen from Nitmiluk so far, it is high on the list even with two kids.