Katherine Tourism & Travel
Katherine, population 7979, situated on the banks of the Katherine River, is 300 kilometres, 187.5 miles south of Darwin, in Jawoyn country and has become a thriving regional centre being the third largest town in the Northern Territory.
The Katherine River has been a rich food source for the Jawoyn people for thousands of years. White settlement of the town of Katherine occurred in 1878 with the completion of the Overland Telegraph and the arrival of Alfred Giles, the first cattle pastoralist. Giles built a homestead on the banks of the river in 1884 that still stands today. Tours are available of Giles Springvale Homestead and the local Jawoyn perform lighthearted corroborees here in the evenings.
Nitmiluk National Park
The main feature of the Nitmiluk National Park is the magnificent 50 kilometre, 30 mile Katherine Gorge, sometimes described as 13 gorges due to dry season rock bar separations. Torrential summer rains have cut through cliffs of red sandstone that are 1 650 million years old along the Katherine River. The result is a place of deep pools, silence and grandeur. Self-guided canoe trips or boat trips with the Jawoyn people are the best way to explore the gorge.
Arnhem Land Plateau
The Arnhem Land Plateau stretches away on either side of the gorge and there are 100 kilometres, 62.5 miles, of marked trails throughout Nitmiluk. Its rocky escarpments are the haunt of wallaroos, wallabies, lizards and snakes.
Nearby, Edith Falls is a pretty spot that also has vehicle access. There are several fairyland rock pools only a short walk behind the falls.
Cutta Cutta Caves
Just south of Katherine the Cutta Cutta Caves are home to the rare orange horseshoe bat and the startling stalactite-climbing brown snakes.
The country is dry and harsh with sparse eucalypts and hardy shrubs that attract colourful parrots during the winter flowering season. In summer, monsoon rains wash over the plateau, swelling the river into flood.
During the wet of 1998 the Katherine River reached a record height of twenty and a half metres placing the entire area under flood. Just about every business in Katherine was under two metres of water. Within two days the waters dropped away and with help from other communities and the government Katherine was back on its feet in just a couple of weeks.