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6. Nitmiluk National Park
Paddle a Red-Rock Gorge

Up in the north, as the country’s bone-dry center yields to its tropical top end, the Katherine River splits a sandstone plateau into 13 distinct gorges, flowing easily through red-rock palisades popular with paddlers and tour boats. To experience the river in solitude, head out with Mick Jerram’s Gecko Canoeing (three days, from $470, all-inclusive; geckocanoeing.com.au). Jerram launches 25 miles downriver from the gorge and floats the Katherine and her offshoots through cattle stations and Aboriginal lands otherwise inaccessible to visitors. Much of this low-key 30-mile paddle passes riparian vegetation teeming with wildlife: Freshwater crocs—"freshies" aren’t as fearsome as their saltwater counterparts—kangaroos, and huge water monitors (Komodo dragon cousins) make reliable appearances, and kangaroo and buffalo are roasted on the nightly barbie. "We’d do it all for free," Jerram says, "if it were possible to sustain a lifestyle."

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