Umbrawarra Gorge, Pine Creek NT
If you are looking for a quick bushwalk that is accessible by
conventional car with shade, water, great scenery &
then , don't miss this gem.
We must of traveled the Stuart Highway
between Katherine & Darwin over a hundred times, and each time we
passed through Pine Creek, we see the road sign saying "Umbrawarra
Gorge 24 km". And each time we thought, I wonder what it is like
in there, maybe next year!"
Well finally we have been to Umbrawarra
Gorge, and being such a short trip off the Highway on a good dirt road ,
I cannot believe why we haven’t been there before.
Just 3km South
of Pine Creek NT(87 km north of Katherine) on the Stuart Highway
is the turn off to Umbrawarra Gorge. It is a 24 km gravel/dirt
road that during the Dry season (May – November) (and depending
on when the Grader does a run over it) is very usable by
conventional vehicle. There are several Creek crossings, the
deepest one was 1 foot deep ( In July 2002). So a few months
previous is would have been deeper as the wet season rains were
The whole road would no doubt
be closed during the "Wet Season" when these bone dry creek
beds would be a torrent of water. As this road also leads to Jindare
Cattle Station, you can bet your bottom dollar the station staff will
still get through.
I was surprised to see about a half dozen
caravans in the small campground at Umbrawarra, everyone just sitting in
their deckchairs having a read or a snooze amongst the shady gums.
It is pretty much rough camping at the campsite, although there is the
luxury of a toilet there & cheap.
Parking in the carpark /creekbed
you can see the "wet season" water levels 4 metres up the
trees, and no doubt higher.
We donned our
walking shoes and headed off down the concrete path. Yes
Concrete for about 100 metres and then wooden slats over a few
muddy parts of the path where the spring water was seeping.
Following the creek for less
than 3 mins we entered the start of the actual Gorge.
There were stretches of sandy
beach to walk along with a bit of rock hopping in between.
Within 5 minutes, you are amongst the
beauty of Umbrawarra Gorge. It was mid July, the height of the Tourist
Season in the Top End when over a 3 months period, a place like the
Nitmiluk Katherine Gorge can have several thousand visitors a day. Well at Umbrawarra Gorge, during the trip in and trip out we managed to see only
7 people. (And again in June2003 we saw about 20 people , with 10 of
those in several individual groups of rock climbers spread throughout
the gorge and out of the casual users way. We were there for about 3
The Gorge twists and
turns over several kilometres and the deeper you go, I assumed the
harder the rock hopping would be, but overall it is a very very easy
I kept checking high up
the rockfaces for signs of aboriginal art, but saw none. Obviously well
hidden or just around a corner up the escarpment.
We stopped for a cuppa
and a swim in the rockpools then just had to go and check out around the
corner, and then the next corner and so on.
We came to a narrower
section of the Gorge where you had no choice but to swim about 10 metres
to a lovely sandy area to continue the adventure. (photo above)
It was decided that next
time we visit here we would have a bit more protection for the Camera
gear as we swim the gorge in search of the end and to get a few photos
of Wagaman Aboriginal Rock art.