Southern Rockhole, Jatbula Trail, Nitmiluk National Park

Katherine is a village in the Lower Top End of the Northern Territory, Australia.


Katherine is the third largest settlement in the Northern Territory around 300km south from Darwin. It has a population of around 10,000, and is significant regional and tourism centre. The township is on the banks of the Katherine River, which flows down from the world-renowned Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk National Park). Katherine Gorge drawn large numbers of visitors in the peak (dry) season.

Despite being number three in the state, the town is small and consists of a single main street. On weekends expect to find the majority of the stores closed.

It is a relatively remote destination with abundant waterways including gorges, rivers waterfalls and the ocean. It's these characteristics that attract an influx of adventure seekers all year round.

Its most well-known watercourse is the Katherine River, which flows through the famous Katherine Gorge. The Gorge, 30km from the town of Katherine, within the Nitmiluk National Park, is actually 13 separate gorges connected over a stretch of 12km by rapids and rocky terrain.

This is an adventure playground for visitors who canoe, camp, bushwalk, and helicopter their way around the Park. Further downstream, extended canoe trips with overnight camping in the peaceful bush is the best way to experience the Katherine River - a serene water way that supports a rich eco-system of native animals and birds.

Bushwalkers are well catered for in Katherine with over 100km of walking trails in the Nitmiluk National Park alone, ranging from half to five-day treks. One of the most famous is the Jatbula Trail - a challenging four to six-day, 58-kilometre bushwalk from Katherine Gorge to Edith Falls that takes in diverse scenery, plunging waterfalls and Aboriginal rock art.

The region's other big rivers provide opportunities for serious fishing adventure. The Daly, Roper, Victoria and McArthur Rivers are prime barramundi haunts, and anglers can bring their own boat, hire one or join a guided safari to add landing a big barra to their list of conquests.

Get in

The quickest way to access Katherine is to fly in to Darwin, hire a car and drive south down the Stuart Highway.

By car

Katherine is around 3 hours drive and around 300 km south of Darwin. All cars rented direct from the rental companies in Darwin will have per day kilometre restrictions. Unlimited kilometres rentals are unheard of in Darwin unless hiring a campervan.

Unlimited kilometre car hire rentals can be obtained by booking through travel wholesalers such as Territory Discoveries and Flight Centre which makes car hire much more affordable. Be careful though, if you are just booking through a consolidator, rather than a wholesaler, the kilometre restrictions will definitely apply.

By bus

Greyhound bus services Katherine. Their office is located at BP Travel North on Katherine Terrace.

By train

The Ghan train travels north twice weekly to Darwin from Adelaide via Katherine, and is one of Australia's most spectacular rail trips. The train stops for a few hours in Katherine, and there are a selection of off train tours that you can do. These are organised on the train when it is arriving into Katherine.

By plane

Just south of Katherine is the Tindal Airforce Base. This is also the airport for Katherine, however no scheduled domestic flights fly to or from here. You may charter an aircraft into Katherine.

Darwin International Airport is the closest airport with scheduled flights.

Airborne Solutions phone - +61 8 8972 2345, fax - +61 8 8972 2535 prices range from AUD $920 to $2320

Get around

The best way to get around Katherine is by car as most of the attractions of Katherine are not within walking distance of the town centre.

This really leaves car (private or hire) or an organised tour as the only ways to get around. The roads to all the major attractions are sealed but subject to flooding during the Wet Season.



Nitmiluk National Park

Other Attractions



Frans Devonshire Tea House, Katherine



Working cattle stations are a unique way to experience the outback and all provide various accommodation and touring packages.Pungalina and Lorella Springs in the Gulf region and Bullo River Station in the west boast sandstone escarpments, rugged gorges, crystal clear rivers, natural springs and mysterious limestone caves.

Go next

Stay safe

Salt and freshwater crocodiles are found near Katherine rivers. Don't swim or camp near the waters edge. The accessible rivers and billabongs are generally sign-posted if saltwater crocodiles are known to inhabit the area, but if you are not sure, don’t swim. The Katherine River near the gorge is a crocodile management zone. Rangers attempt to trap and relocate any salt-water crocodiles that may have moved into the area in the wet out of the river.

Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt, sunglasses and sunscreen. You should also be sure to drink plenty of water; a minimum of two litres per day is advised. Use insect repellent, mosquito coils and appropriate clothing to protect from mosquito bites. If camping, keep your tent zipped and tap your shoes out before putting them on.

If you are exerting yourself outdoors, but walking for example, you will need one litre of water for every hour in very warm weather and avoid walking in the hottest part of the day.

Snakes inhabit the bush, so be cautious and make noise when walking through long grass, and make sure you have sturdy shoes.

Carry appropriate safety equipment, such as an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon), satellite phone and first aid kit, and don't bushwalk alone. Let someone you trust know where you are, and arrange to contact them at intervals.

Shake out your shoes in the morning to remove any 'critters' that have settled in during the night

Only build fires in the pits provided and take care to completely extinguish the flame when finished, and limit the use of fire. Be aware of fire bans in certain areas of the Territory.

Routes through Katherine

Darwin  N  S  Tennant Creek Alice Springs
Darwin  N                            S  Kununurra Broome
END  N                            S  Tennant Creek

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, September 22, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.