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When you visit Nitmiluk Gorge in the Northern Territory there is no need to rough it. High above the Katherine River you will find Cicada Lodge, an 18 room boutique accommodation option located less than 3 minutes walk from the gorge. It is 100% indigenous owned and reflects the spirit and culture of the local Jawoyn people. Here are 10 reasons you should treat yourself to a night of luxury in this beautiful and unique part of Australia.

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Cicada Lodge has eco-friendly surrounds

1. Eco-friendly surrounds

Unlike some other accommodation options which scream ‘look at me, look at me’, Cicada Lodge blends in with nature and allows it to shine. Wooden decks connect each of the low-impact rooms and the colours of the décor mirror the surrounding landscape. A continuous soundtrack is provided by the musical ‘nit, nit, nit’ of the cicadas from which the gorge takes its name.

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Cicada Lodge is 3 mins walk from Nitmiluk Gorge

2. Hotel close to Nitmuluk Gorge

You’ve come a long way to see it so you might as well enjoy every moment. It’s a brief stroll from the lodge to the gorge via Cicada’s secret back door.

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View of the Northern Rockhole from the helicopter at Nitmiluk Gorge

3. Tour booking tips

If you aren’t sure what you would like to do or have left it too late to book, there’s a good chance someone at the lodge can help. With so many tours to choose from it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. Spend your time (and your money) wisely and ask the staff for their expert tips. We did a gorge cruise which included a swim in a ‘secret’ water hole and a spectacular helicopter tour over Nitmiluk Gorge.

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Guests enjoy a complimentary cocktail hour each evening

4. Cicada Lodge cocktails

Each evening the clink of glasses and the sound of animated conversation blends with the sounds of the bush. Guests at Cicada Lodge enjoy a complimentary cocktail hour with fine Australian wines and canapés featuring native ingredients. It can be as convivial or romantic as you wish depending on where you sit.

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Learn how to throw a spear at Cicada Lodge

5. Cicada Lodge activities

The Jawoyn people, the traditional owners of the land where Cicada Lodge is built, have created a guest activities program which focuses on the local culture. Sign up for the 1.5 hour cultural program and discover the ancient craft of basket weaving, learn how to throw a spear and play the didgeridoo, paint a picture with resident artist John “Long Johnny” Dewar and see fire being created using traditional fire sticks.

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Room at Cicada Lodge

6. Cicada Lodge rooms

Some rooms offer a glimpse of Nitmiluk Gorge but staying here is really about enjoying the beauty of the surrounding landscape. Open your doors to the sights and sounds of the native bush or close them to enjoy the cool surrounds of an air-conditioned sanctuary. For me, the large rainshower was the biggest highlight. Bathing with Bulgari toiletries in the middle of the outback was a fabulous yet surreal experience.

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Twice-cooked duck breast on a snow pea salad with raspberry dressing

7. Cicada Lodge restaurant

Even if you are not staying at the lodge, it is worth ringing to see if you can get a table. Non-guests are welcome at Cicada’s restaurant provided it is not booked out. A three course dinner costs $75 and features dukka-dusted Northern Territory prawns, crocodile san choi bao or local Mangrove Jack.

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Artist John “Long Johnny” Dewar at work

8. Cicada Lodge art

Cicada Lodge is filled with beautiful works created by local artist John “Long Johnny” Dewar. Staying here is like visiting a gallery. Dewar specialises in X-ray art, a traditional style featuring cross-hatched lines that make the pictures appear almost three-dimensional. Some of the works look deceptively simple until you try to paint one yourself. The ‘masterpiece’ that I created during the cultural demonstration looked like it had been painted by a messy 3 year old. It had little in common with the elegant simplicity of Dewar’s works.

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Jumping into the pool is heaven on a hot day

9. Cicada Lodge swimming

When we arrived at Cicada Lodge the first thing we did was jump in the pool. This was something we continued to do for the rest of our stay and we never tired of it. Later in the year you can go swimming in the gorge but they hadn’t removed the crocs when we were there at the end of the wet season. Being able to cool down in such luxurious surrounds was pure bliss when it was 35 degrees in the shade.

10. Meeting interesting people

Whether we were exchanging a few words with the table beside us over dinner or stopping for a chat on the way back from a tour, the conversations were always entertaining. Chatting with the other guests was one of many highlights during our stay.

Disclaimer: The writer paid a media rate for her meals and accommodation at Cicada Lodge.

If you are also visiting Darwin as part of your trip, we have suggestions for Where to Dine in Darwin., and reviews of Oaks Elan Darwin Suites, Hilton Darwin, sunset sailing trips, and an excellent AAT Kings tour of Litchfield National Park.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.