Australia

Katherine, NT – A locals guide for the best things to do

Katherine Gorge, NT Australia

Katherine, Northern Territory is one of Australia’s most unique and exciting destinations. It is also my home town, the land where I belong. Located in the heart of the Top End. Katherine is a vibrant and bustling settlement offering breathtaking scenery, friendly locals, and a colourful history. This is a list of the best things to do in Katherine, from a local. From historical sites and cultural attractions, to a wide range of outdoor activities. Katherine is a great choice for those looking to explore the Northern Territory in all its beauty and diversity.

I want to begin this post by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands mentioned. I would like to pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging. Katherine marks the point where the traditional lands of the Jawoyn, Dagoman, and Wardaman Aboriginal peoples converge. Katherine has been an important meeting place for indigenous people for many thousands of years, and it remains so today.

Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge)

Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk National Park)
Katherine Gorge

Nitmiluk National Park, is Katherine’s prize attraction. It is home to 13 mesmerising gorges, and is owned by the Jawoyn Aboriginal People. Nitmiluk is also known as the Katherine Gorge. But the Traditional name is more reverent, because it literally translates to Cicada Place.

This national park is the perfect place for hiking, swiming, canoeing, kayaking, boat tours and helicopter tours. You will have loads of opportunities to learn about aboriginal culture and Jawoyn Dreaming.

Walking Trails

Baruwei Lookout

The trail will take you roughly 1 hour and is roughly 1.8km return. This trail will give you views of the picnic area, Nitmiluk Gorge and 17 Mile Valley.

Baruwei Lookout and Loop Walk

From the Baruwei lookout, continue walking from the lookout along the escarpment and back down towards the visitor centre. This walk will take you roughly 2 hours and is approximate 4.8km loop walk.

Windolf via Yambi Walk and Gurumal Trail

Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk National Park)

This walk will take you roughly 3.5 hours and is a distance of approximately 9.1km. You will experience views of the lower gorge from Pat’s Lookout. Take this walk to get to the Southern Rockhole swimming hole, for seasonal swimming.

Butterfly Gorge via Yambi Walk and Gurumal Trail

The hike is one of the most beautiful in the gorge. It will take you approximately 4.5 hours and is roughly a 12km round trip. You will get to see the gorge with butterflies and bushland. There is deep water, with seasonal swimming.

Jatbula Trail

The 62km Jatbula Trail, starts from Nitmiluk Gorge (Katherine Gorge) and ends at Leliyn (Edith Falls).

The trip traverses woodlands, open forests, monsoon forests, and riverine landscapes. It follows the western side of the Arnhem Land escarpment. You will follow in the steps of countless Jawoyn ancestors who have previously travelled parts of this trail.

The road bears Peter Jatbula’s name, a traditional owner of the Jawoyn people. He played a significant role in winning land rights for the Jawoyn people.

Swimming Holes

Southern Rockhole

Southern Rockhole at Nitmiluk National Park. Katherine Gorge.
Southern Rockhole, Nitmiluk National Park

This is one of my most favourite hikes in Nitmiluk. It’s part of the southern walks along the Waindolf walk to Pat’s Lookout in Nitmiluk Gorge. You get to take in some beautiful scenery, overlooking the first gorge and end the day with a swim. This waterhole will cleanse your spirit and refresh your soul.

Northern Rockhole

Northern Rockhole is a half day walk in Nitmiluk Gorge. You will need to book a short ferry ride to cross the Katherine River. It’s a lovely lunch spot on the first day of the iconic Jatbula Trail. You’ll climb over dark volcanic rocks to reach the base of the falls, where you can see many layers of sedimentary rocks in the cliff face.

Leilyn National Park (Edith Falls)

Walking Trails

Leilyn Trail

The loop walk will take you roughly 1.5 hours and is a distance of approximately 2.6km. There is a chance for a refreshing swim in the upper pool of Leliyn / Edith Falls half way around the trail.

Sweetwater Pool Trail

This trail is a distance of approximately 8.6km return trip it can be done as a day trip or overnight walk. Camping requires a permit. Sweetwater pool is a tranquil swimming hole.

Swimming

Lower Plunge Pool

Edith Falls (Leilyn National Park) Plunge Pool near Katherine
Edith Falls

If you’re looking for a breathtaking experience, then you can’t miss Edith Falls. This stunning waterfall is one of the main attractions in the area. Thanks to its cascading falls, crystal clear waters and postcard-perfect surroundings. Whether you’re wanting to enjoy a refreshing dip, overnight camping, a picnic by the water or a day of exploring the trails. A trip to Edith Falls is definitely worth your time.

You can enjoy swimming in the paperbark and pandanus fringed natural pool at the base of the falls most of the year, although it may be closed to swimming at times between November through to April.

Upper Pool

The upper pool is a more isolated and smaller pool than the lower plunge pool. You can find this tranquil rocky swimming spot at the top of the Leilyn trail.

Sweetwater Pool

It’s easy to see how Sweetwater Pool got its name. Your thoughts will be calmed by its tranquil waters as they spectacularly reflect the sky. Early morning and late afternoon light are the best times to see the warm, rich colours of the nearby rocks. Sweetwater Pool is the last campsite reached along the iconic Jatbula Trail.

Katherine Hot Springs

Relax your muscles in the crystal-clear water at Katherine Hot Springs on the banks of the Katherine River, after a long day of exploring. Climb the elevated walkway to an observation platform where you can see the spring’s source. The water here is always an ideal 32 degrees for swimming.

Katherine Museum

Katherine Museum is an essential experience for any traveler. If you’re looking to get a glimpse into the culture and history of Katherine, NT Australia. Operational since 1985, this museum has been preserving the area’s culture and history for over half a century. It’s definitely a must-see destination for any traveler looking to get an insight into the region. Here, you can explore the diverse collections of artifacts, and learn about the fascinating of the flying doctors services.

Knotts Crossing River

Knotts Crossing river
Knotts Crossing

Located in the heart of Katherine, NT, Knotts Crossing is a must visit destination. For those travellers looking for a unique outback experience. The striking landscape of the river is an experience in itself. Swimming and walks along the river can be enjoyed, make it a paradise for nature lovers, families and adventurers alike.

Swimming at Knotts Crossing river
Knotts Crossing

Katherine Low Level River

The low level river region in the town has developed into a nature reserve and a popular swimming hole since the construction of the Katherine River Bridge. It’s water depth is around 3-5 feet at most, making it perfect for families. Although it is composed of concrete, the weir beneath the low level bridge gives the river some personality as the water flows down several feet to the lower level.

The top of the river bank offers a large grassy picnic area. A children’s playground, and several gas BBQ’s are available to unwind on a quiet day.

If you are nearby between April and June, bring your fishing gear before it gets too cold for the Barra.

Cutta Cutta Caves

Cutta Cutta Caves in Katherine, is one of the Territories most spectacular natural attractions. Located 100km south of Katherine. This network of limestone caves reveals a captivating landscape of kaleidoscopic rock formations, subterranean pools and magical passages.

NT Rare Rocks Store

NT Rare Rocks in Katherine NT

Geoff has a passion for collecting and cutting unique and uncommon rocks and gemstones from all over the Territory. He has the ability to cut and polish an ordinary-looking rock to reveal its innate beauty. Which is something no one would typically be aware of. From book ends to wine holders and spice racks made of stone, Geoff can make you a piece to always remember your trip. He loves to share these unique gems with everyone because he is so passionate about them.

It’s recommended you call before visiting ph: (08) 89710889. But the general rule is, if the sign is out the front they are open. Located at 223 Zimin Drive, Cossack NT 0850.

Katherine Outback Experience

Outback experience
Katherine

Visit Katherine, make some new friends an explore outback living. If you don’t have access to outback living, you can pay to experience it. In a 90-minute show, country music performer and horseman Tom Curtain will give you a glimpse of life on an outback cattle station. During the Katherine Outback Experience you will watch working dogs muster livestock and see Tom break in a horse. Tom sings his country songs and recounts vivid tales about the bush during the evening.

Enjoy the sunset

Outback Sunset
Katherine Sunset

If you have ever dreamed of a place that looks like a postcard, then an Outback Sunset in Katherine is the answer. Witness a stunning site as the blazing sun sets on the horizon. Painting the sky in a rich palette of purples and oranges that stretch to the edge of the earth. Relax and enjoy a simple life in this small outback town.

Big Fig Bistro

The Big Fig Bistro at the Big4 Caravan Park in Katherine
Big Fig Bistro

Eat your dinner under the stars and amidst the branches of a massive fig tree. Feel the night air on your skin, let it carry away your worries and transport you to a world of relaxation and solace. This magical backdrop can be found at the Big4 caravan park. The Big4 is about 15 mins out of Katherine, creating the perfect environment for an evening of outback dining.

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