The Northern Territory’s Katherine region stretches from Dunmarra in the south to the Daly River region in the north. In total it covers an incredible 480,000 sq kilometres. From east to west it touches both the Queensland and West Australian borders. Katherine and its surrounds are the place to go for true outback adventure and indigenous experiences.
The town of Katherine is the central hub of the region and offers museums, art galleries and historic sites. It is a good place to buy authentic Aboriginal art and artefacts; or create your own original dot painting to take home.
The Katherine Museum has wonderful displays of photos of the history of the region. Just out of town is Springvale Homestead, the oldest original homestead in the Northern Territory. The nearby fascinating Cutta Cutta Caves are a series of sparkling limestone crystal caverns and pillars dating back 500 million years.
Dine on traditional bush tucker around a campfire under clear star-filled skies. Take a refreshing swim at the Katherine Hot Springs. South of town you’ll find the spectacular Mataranka Thermal Pools and Bitter Springs.
The jewel in the crown of the Katherine region is Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park. The park sits at the southern tip of Kakadu National Park and Aboriginal-owned Arnhem Land. Here you’ll find a landscape of rugged sandstone cliffs, dramatic waterfalls and lush rainforest. The Edith Falls waterfalls flow all year round and are a great spot for swimming, picnics and camping.
Take a cruise along the spectacular Katherine Gorge, a series of sandstone gorges carved over millions of years which stretch along the Katherine River. You can camp by a billabong and fish for barramundi in the clear waterways.
The best way to explore the grandeur of the gorge is to tour it with one of the Jawoyn people, who run Nitmiluk National Park in conjunction with the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory. Aboriginal culture is strong in the area and there are many significant rock art sites throughout the park.
The more challenging five-day Jatbula Trail is a 59-kilometre trek which follows the song line of the local Jawoyn people. View the whole spectacular panorama from above on a scenic flight.
The Katherine region hosts a number of events during the drier months from May to August. See Aboriginal culture at the Walking with Spirits Festival and Barunga Festival. Mix with the locals at the Katherine Show and Katherine Festival. A number of regional fishing competitions will attract enthusiasts.
From Katherine follow the Savannah Way to the Gulf of Carpentaria visiting remote fishing villages such as Borroloola and the Barranyi (North Island) National Park.
Katherine is around 300 km south of Darwin and around 1200 kilometres north of Alice Springs. It is a few hours’ drive from Katherine to Kakadu, Litchfield and Gregory National Parks.
Katherine offers accommodation styles from upmarket apartments and motels to backpacker’s lodges and camping sites. The Ghan train journey visits Katherine on its route from Adelaide to Darwin.