Cicada Lodge is located inside Nitmiluk National Park, 23 kilometres from Katherine and about 300 kilometres south of Darwin. From the moment you arrive, it’s clear this hotel experience will be different to your standard hotel stay. There’s barely a reception, just a simple desk situated by the entry. We were greeted by staff who make you feel like you’re staying at a friend’s place for the weekend. That’s the beauty of this place. It isn’t fussy or needlessly fancy. Cicada Lodge is a class-act. The hotel complex is cleverly carved into the natural landscape, and the single storey bungalows are tastefully and strategically nestles between trees and scrub, moments from Katherine Gorge in Australia’s Northern Territory.
Gabrielle Boyle | Cover Image © Cicada Lodge
First Impressions of Cicada Lodge
Cicada Lodge boasts all the features you expect from a contemporary hotel; an inviting pool, surrounded by large umbrellas, day beds that beckon, bar tables and stools for taking a load off your feet after a sweaty day exploring, and a fuss-free and friendly indoor and outdoor dining space.
The first thing you notice about Cicada Lodge is the clever design and layout of the hotel. All eighteen rooms are single-story, and nestled into the edge of the gorge. They’re inoffensive and elegant in equal measure. Rooms open onto large private balconies, and the bush sweeps into view from every angle. The rooms are adorned with indigenous artwork, which blends easily with the organic tones of the interior design. The rich, organic aesthetic is welcoming and relaxing.
Stepping outside of your room, the natural environment is on your doorstep. If you’re heading out for a bush walk, the walk begins when you close the door. Gorgeous gum trees dangle over the rooms, native scrub lines the paths throughout, and wildlife is everywhere. At sunset and sunrise, birds dart between the low-lying scrub, and the braver breeds even perch on the unoccupied chairs by the pool. There’s no noisy traffic to startle them, no frantic wait-staff trying to shoo them away. The wildlife is as welcome as the paid guests, and for nature-lovers, this is a real treat.
Indigenous Owned and Run
A standout feature of Cicada Lodge is the staff and management. Cicada Lodge is a joint venture between the traditional owners, the Jawoyn people, and Indigenous Business Australia. The pride displayed by everyone working at the hotel was evident from the moment we arrived. We were greeted like friends rather than guests, which made our stay feel instantly more special. The staff was extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable when it came to both the hotel and the surrounding region. They were super-keen to share helpful tips about where to go and what to do during our stay. This insider knowledge made all the difference. On the advice of staff, we took several spectacular walks and visited a couple of fantastic nearby art galleries.
Local Fare Featuring Native Flavours
Dining at Cicada Lodge was such a treat. In contrast to the culinary showmanship we have come to expect from fancy restaurants, the dining experience at Cicada is simple, fresh and well presented. The set-menus mean there’s no stress deciding, and each course rolls out without prompting. The food is light and clean and portioned perfectly. The chefs have cleverly incorporated local ingredients into most meals from native herbs and fruits to unique produce, giving the restaurant a signature local feel. Dining at Cicada Lodge really is a lovely way to start and end the day.
Katherine Gorge on your Doorstep
Rest assured, you will need a full belly to make the most of Cicada Lodge and its surrounds. There are countless things to see and do just outside the front door. For me, the opportunity to bush walk among some truly spectacular landscape was so special. We walked along the riverbank, soaking up the autumn sunshine. At both dawn and dusk, we climbed to the lookout at the top of Katherine Gorge to take in the rising and setting sun. You could do this every day for a week, and not grow tired of the view. As you climb, the view through the canopy from each angle is different, and endlessly entertaining. The desert environment is so unique, and the bushland so rich in animal life, that it’s easy to get lose yourself in the moment. I spent more than an hour watching hundreds of bats chatter to each other as they dangled from a tree in the hotel car park. That’s the type of experience what makes Cicada Lodge such a special hotel in one of Australia’s most iconic destinations. It’s a place unlike any other in the world.
Gorge Rd, Katherine NT 0850
The Fit Traveller was a guest of Cicada Lodge for this stay. As always, the opinions and words are authentically our own.