In the Northern Territory Outback, you might hear a peculiar noise – nit, nit, nit! It is the sound of the cicada, from which Nitmiluk – otherwise known as Katherine Gorge – takes its name. In the language of the Jawoyn people – traditional owners of this country, it means Cicada Place.
Taking its cue from this Dreaming name is the Indigenous-owned Cicada Lodge, which sits near the spectacular gorge in Nitmiluk National Park. Opened in 2013, the lodge merges modern style with Indigenous design elements in the form of 18 airconditioned rooms, a fine-dining restaurant and pool.
It is here that renowned landscape photographer Sean Scott took a two-night break during a family road trip with his wife, Fiona, and three children, Katie, 12, Reef, 10, and Sam, 8, from Darwin to Uluru – a welcome change from sleeping on the roof of his vehicle while on the road. Between them, they stayed in two rooms – one for the adults, and one for the kids.
“We all loved the space and beautiful accommodation at the lodge – aircon was bliss for me for a change,” Sean recalls. “We had an awesome dinner at the resort and seeing the kids have such a fancy dinner was also entertaining. They even seemed to turn on their best behaviour.”
Dining at Cicada Lodge is an adventure in itself – guests can enjoy native Australian foods within a modern Australian menu, including such delicacies as Marsdenia (bush bananas) and Yarr (freshwater prawns). The nightly Chef’s Table features a specialty dish based on the season and local produce. After dinner, enjoy a sundowner by the pool.
The lodge is the perfect jumping off point for the many activities available in the national park, courtesy of Nitmiluk Tours – including cruises of Nitmiluk Gorge, rock art tours and adventure swim tours.
More NT inspiration:
Spectacular scenery: Hiking The Larapinta Trail
Another dimension: 6 Reasons To Visit The Red Centre In 2017
Sean and his family took a sunrise cruise through the gorge, which is home to an amazing array of wildlife, from 192 species of birds, including rosellas, kookaburras and peregrine falcons, to flying foxes, freshwater crocodiles, turtles, wallabies, wallaroos and the odd dingo. (Saltwater crocs do make it into the Katherine River during the wet season but are trapped and moved along.)
“We got a great look at the gorge, and a few different sections as well,” Sean says. “There was a freshwater croc in a trap that they had set for any salties – but we didn’t see any of them. They had a lot of rain, so it was up a lot. There were a few rapid sections ... when the sun came out, the cliffs were incredible.”
Those ancient sandstone cliffs are a major drawcard for visitors, turning all shades from mauve to red over the course of a day.
Sean says Nitmiluk is the perfect stop on the way south from Darwin – it’s about 320 kilometres from the Northern Territory capital, just off the Stuart Highway.
“We came down from Kakadu, and it was only a few hours on the main highway,” he says. “The gorge is incredible with lots of walks and activities to do. It is also close to Edith Falls.”
And Sean’s tip for keeping cool on an NT road trip? “The waterholes. Up north, they are everywhere and there are loads of easy walks with croc-free swimming holes. We would hang out there in the hot parts of the day. Also lots of drinking water and the odd ice cream helped!”
Note: Fresh and saltwater crocodiles are present in waterways in the Northern Territory - beaches, rivers and waterholes, so observe all crocodile warning signs and only ever swim in designated areas.
About Sean Scott
Sean Scott is a coastal landscape photographer based in Burleigh Heads, Queensland. Operating his own galleries for over 10 years, Sean has built up quite a library of images from all over the world. His passion for what he does is evident in his work and he is constantly travelling in search of his next shot. Sean is well-known for both his underwater and landscape photography.