This postcard-worthy region will steal your heart with its thermal springs, gorgeous gorges and wild waterfalls. A three-hour drive from Darwin along the Stuart Highway, Katherine’s star attraction is none other than Nitmiluk Gorge − sometimes referred to as Katherine Gorge.
The gorge itself is actually a combination of 13 separate gorges, carved out of sandstone cliffs by the Katherine River thousands of years ago. In the dry season, upper and lower pools are open for swimming.
Katherine is also regarded as an important gathering place, being an area where the traditional territories of the Dagoman, Wardaman and Jawoyn indigenous peoples meet.
To experience the magic of Nitmiluk Gorge up close, we recommend hiring a canoe from the Nitmiluk National Park Visitor Centre. If you have less time on your hands, go for two or three-hour cruises at dawn or sunset. These usually include a little walking between gorges.
For a bird’s eye view, take a helicopter flight with either Heli Spirit or Nitmiluk Tours. Or see the gorges on foot via the park’s many walking tracks.
Make sure to visit the Top Didj Cultural Experience & Art Gallery in Lansdowne too, and participate in activities like spear throwing, basket weaving and handling fire sticks.
Katherine has some great accommodation choices with plenty of facilities for your travel party.
Hotels like ibis Styles Katherine include a bar, swimming pool, tennis court and function room for business travellers.
As for the Beagle Motor Inn, it boasts a garden, bar and tour desk for guests to book local experiences. Another family-friendly option is the Stuart Hotel-Motel, with a garden and on-site restaurant.
Other places to consider are Knotts Crossing Resort, with car rental and BBQ facilities, as well as Riverview Tourist Village, which includes a shared kitchen and bicycle hire.
For a little more luxury, the premium Cicada Lodge comes with sunset drinks, canapes and a continental breakfast.
Our top pick is Marksie’s Camp Tuck, a re-created stockman’s camp 7km from Katherine’s town centre. Its three-course menu features delicacies like crocodile, wild-caught barramundi, camel and buffalo.
Over at Katherine Visitor Information Centre, Black Russian Caravan Bar is housed in an actual caravan and serves fresh thick-cut toasties.
At Katherine East, cafe Maiden’s Lane offers yummy burgers, great coffee and cakes.
Unique dishes like croc spring rolls and kangaroo loin more your style? Pop by Knotts Crossing Resort’s Savannah Bar & Restaurant. And in the Riverview tourist village, Barra Cafe serves up local Barra and other specialties.