Following on from our Top End series of blogs, we know a lot of our ‘Gallivanters’ like to visit Katherine and the nearby Nitmiluk National Park, home of the picturesque Katherine Gorge.
While Katherine is only 3.5 hours south of Darwin (320 km), in the most part it will take you much longer, as most people love to have a good look around on the way. Check out our previous blogs for more details on places like Mt Bundy station and Litchfield National Park to call into on the way. You can also check out our other Travel Routes here for more useful information in planning your journey around Australia.
Roughly halfway to Katherine, you’ll pass through Pine Creek which is one of oldest towns and gold mining capital of the Northern Territory.
This little town is steeped in history as back in its hay day, Pine Creek was an important transport hub during the 1870s’ mining boom. In later years it was also instrumental in WWII as it was one of the towns that was not bombed by the Japanese and a hospital camp was set up nearby and an airfield was constructed as an emergency landing ground to serve the military units based in town.
The Miners Park in town has historical mining equipment and a small museum (gold coin donation). South of the railway station and locomotive is the historic ‘Walk through Time’ footpath with tiles painted by local artists commemorating people who’ve made a contribution to Pine Creek, from the Aboriginal people to the miners and pastoralists of the 1960s. There are a couple of lunch options here or stop at the Lazy Lizard Tavern for a cool drink.
Back on the Stuart Highway, situated just 60 km north of Katherine you’ll find a lush, national park camping area in a scenic bush setting, that makes Leliyn (Edith Falls) an idyllic spot to cool off and enjoy a swim. It’s also great for walking, with a 2.6 km trail that has a slightly challenging walk along a steep, rocky loop. There is a longer walk, a 9 km trail to Sweetwater Pool that will reward you with a tranquil swimming hole at the end of it.
Leliyn (Edith Falls), is in the northern section of the Nitmiluk National Park and owned by the Jawoyen People. There is no fee to enter the national park, however there is a cost to camp and the fees can be paid at the kiosk near the camp (either prior to setting up if it is open; otherwise the next morning). The campsite operates on first come, first served basis and can be busy during the popular months of June to September.
From Leliyn (Edith Falls), it’s only a short drive into Katherine. The Katherine region is nearly 350,000km2 – the same size as the state of Victoria! The region is home to 24,000 people, of which 60% identify as Indigenous.
During your time in Katherine you’ll find some good art galleries, the nearby Katherine Hot Springs (32oC) and history buffs should definitely visit the Katherine Museum.
Most people visiting Katherine, would head into the Nitmiluk National Park which is a 30-minute drive up Gorge Rd (north east of Katherine). Set around 13 gorges, the Nitmiluk National Park has the mighty Katherine River running through it – you’ll be amazed by its majestic beauty and sheer size of the spectacular gorges.
Most people take a popular boat cruise to visit Katherine Gorge, which is the 2nd gorge from the camping/visitors centre at the end of the road into the National Park. There are a range of different tour options for you to experience this remote and beautiful area. This area is very busy during the dry season, May to September so you may like to book your cruise in advance if you are tight on time.
There are plenty of walking trails you can choose from and waterfalls to see and experience in Nitmiluk National Park, or you may even like to take a helicopter ride to see the harder to reach gorges! Or for those more adventurous, perhaps hiring a canoe may appeal.
You can do all of the following activities in Nitmiluk National Park
- Bushwalking / hiking
- Swimming in marked areas – please watch out for closures
- Canoe hire
- View Aboriginal rock art
- Fishing – you can fish using lures in areas of the Katherine River, but fishing is not permitted in Edith Falls
- Lots of wildlife spotting
- Scenic lookouts
- Discover more about the Jawoyn culture
- Ranger guided activities are usually available too
The best time to visit this area is between May and September. Contact Nitmiluk Visitor Centre for more details so you can plan your trip up there. Opening hours daily from 08:00 to 17:00. Contact (08) 8972 1253.
If you are planning on hiring a campervan or motorhome for your travels, check out our range of vehicle options available here. If you know the dates of your travel, fill out our easy online quick quote form here.