A Gorge-ous Day

My last day in the Northern Territory was a long one, but splendid. It started with an all-day climb/swim/boat up Katherine Gorge and ended with boarding a bus after midnight and heading for Western Australia.

Katherine Gorge, also known as Nitmiluk, is owned by the Jawoyn people, the same people whose corroboree I’d had the pleasure of attending the night before. Our guide for what would be an adventurous nine-hour excursion had been the narrator during the story dances at the corroboree.

Because the Katherine River followed fault lines as it carved down through the sandstone escarpment, the gorge is actually divided into 13 sections, each of which is generally referred to as a numerical gorge — first gorge, second gorge, etc. Most folks only make it through the first two gorges, because not everyone wants to spend nine hours hiking over wildly fractured rock in 100 degree heat. But for those who have the time and energy, the gorge repays one with increasingly glorious scenery.

I will admit that in looking back at my photos, I’m amazed that I made it over some of the rock barriers in the gorge, especially in light of the fact that I was carrying most of my camera equipment with me.

The photos below are of the splendid red wall of Jedda Rock in the second gorge, and of the wild and weirdly worn rocks we had to clamber over to get to the sixth gorge. The rocks are, I think, self-explanatory—it was a difficult scramble. But Jedda Rock is more than just a lovely bit of scenery on the river.

Jedda, made in the 1950s, was the first movie to feature Aborigines in leading roles and to attempt to explore cultural differences (though pretty much just from a colonial perspective). The climactic scene of the movie involved the heroine, Jedda, plunging to her death off of this rock. Here, you can see some still images and a brief clip from the movie. Much of the movie was filmed in this area, but the story about filming gets hazy here. Some say the fatal fall was filmed from this rock but was later reshot in New South Wales. Others suggest that, as the fall would be too dangerous, New South Wales was the only place the fall was filmed. Either way, the actors started out on top of this rock—and you can recognize the terrain of the gorge in the film stills. And Jedda Rock is a good example of the beauty enjoyed during a cruise of Katherine/Nitmiluk Gorge.

Jedda Rock Katherine Rocks

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Filed under Australia, Book, Geography, History, Nature, Travel

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