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Katherine Gorge / Nitmilukkatherine gorge

Katherine Gorge, photo by Matt Malone

Katherine Gorge, nowadays known by its Aboriginal name Nitmiluk National Park, is located in the Northern Territory of Australia, 29 kilometres from the town of Katherine and about 300 km. south of Darwin.
The park has been established around a series of 13 gorges on the Katherine River and Edith Falls, its northern edge borders the famous Kakadu National Park.
In an outback landscape that can be monotonous this place is a spectacular oasis where over 23 million years the river has cut its way through the ancient sandstone rocks creating walls of up to 70m high.
You can see the gorge on tours in flat bottomed boats, explore independently by hiring a canoe, or view it from the air on a helicopter flight.

cheap hotels in katherine
Click here for the best accommodation deals in Katherine

To get to Katherine Gorge you will pass through the town of Katherine, which is a major stop along the Ghan railway line between Darwin in the Northern Territory and Adelaide in South Australia, and it is located on the meeting point of two highways; the Stuart Highway that runs north-south from Darwin to Adelaide, and the Victoria Highway that runs west from Katherine all the way down to Perth.

Katherine is not a real big town, about 10 000 people or so, and lies roughly 300km. from Darwin and 1200 km. from Alice Springs
The Katherine area was first observed by John McDouall Stuart in 1862. The original settlers were Aborigines of the Dagoman, Jawoyn and Wardaman groups. McDouall named it after the daughter of one of his sponsors.

From Katherine it is only 30km. to the gorge, you will first arrive there at a visitor centre where information displays are set up that explain the geology, landscape and aboriginal history of this National Park. The gorge and the surrounding landscape have great ceremonial significance to the local Jawoyn people, who are custodians of Nitmiluk National Park. In their language Nitmiluk means place of the cicada dreaming. The area has Aboriginal rock paintings up to 7000 years old.

There is a huge difference between dry and wet season in weather and conditions in the Katherine Gorge.
During the dry season (roughly from April to October) the water in the gorges is calm and perfect for swimming and canoeing and the gorges become separated as the level of the river falls and you may have to carry your canoe across the rocks.
There are harmless freshwater crocodiles in the river all year but during the wet season swimming is not allowed when saltwater crocodiles may find their way down there from neighbouring Kakadu National Park, but rangers capture and relocate them at the end of the wet season. The gorges are connected in the wet when the river can rage out of control.

There is a variety of walking tracks in the Nitmiluk Park that range from a short stroll to the Jatbula Walk which is a 66 km long walking trail from Katherine Gorge at Nitmiluk Visitors Centre to Edith Falls, which takes four to five days. Along the trail are the Biddlecombe Cascades, Crystal Falls, 17 Mile Falls, and Leliyn (Edith Falls.

There is also a variety of Katherine Gorge boat cruises available from easy two hour cruises with or without a short walk to four hour tours/cruises that include some walking, the longest cruises go up in to the fifth gorge. Some of the tours may not run in the wet season when the river can get pretty wild.
You can hire canoes to paddle up the gorge and explore at your own pace but a maximum of 75 canoes is allowed in Katherine Gorge at any one time, so if you planning on canoeing, make sure you book in advance

If you are staying a few days in the area make sure to check out some other attractions in this area;
- the Cutta Cutta Caves are well worth a visit, find them 27km south of Katherine, , 500 million-year-old limestone caverns which are an important roosting site for the endangered Orange Horseshoe bat.
- The Mataranka Thermal Pools
- Edith Falls is another great place for a swim or to stay overnight and camp.
Edith Falls is located about 60 km north of Katherine a short detour off the Stuart Highway, there is a camping ground and cafe here, and a choice of walks to the top of the escarpment, providing great views of the waterfalls.

For current information on fishing and camping at Katherine Gorge,see t the visitor centre at the end of Gorge Rd.

katherine gorge nitmiluk camping
There is a camp ground at Katherine Gorge where this
friendly emu was very interested in the ice cubes from the esky.

Katherine Tours


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The Western End of Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park, the Top End, Australia
The Western End of Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park, Buy at

Katherine accommodation

How to get to Katherine Gorge

bus transport around australiaAdventure Tours is an Australian company that can take you across the country in a fun and adventurous way to show you the real Australia. Of course it is quicker to fly to Katherine, but crossing Australia's outback by road is the only way to fully appreciate its amazing vastness.

Day tour from Darwin

katherine gorge darwin northern territory
Katherine Gorge / Nitmiluk National Park
© Australian Pacific Touring

If your time in Darwin is limited you can still see the Katherine Gorge on a day tour that also includes a stop at the beautiful Edith Falls. More info...


Top End highlights

katherine gorge nitmiluk

This three day independent coach tour lets you experience the highlights of the Top End. Travel by luxury coach from Darwin to Kakadu, Katherine and Litchfield, before returning to Darwin. View ancient Aboriginal rock art, take scenic cruises and have the opportunity for swimming beneath tropical waterfalls.More info....

Flights to Katherine Gorge:

Unless you drive up to the Northern Territory you will have to fly to the nearest airport Darwin first, and then rent a car or book on a tour. There are also flights to Katherine from Darwin and Alice Springs.

If you are already in Australia then go to our page Cheap Domestic Flights in Australia for a good choice in cheap domestic airfares to Darwin.

If you are still in your home country then you will need to get an international flight to Darwin.

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Feel more comfortable to book your airfares to Darwin online with a travel business from your own country that you know and trust?

Then choose your home country here:
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Driving to and around Katherine

There is a wide choice of car rental companies where you can book your car or campervan online to be assured of a car on your arrival in Katherine or at Darwin airport, and most offer one way rentals between major cities. Nothing beats the freedom of having your own car to explore and stop when and where you want.


Budget Car Hire needs little introduction, the name says it all: car hire at Budget Prices with a car hire company with an international reputation, and this sites makes it even easier to find yourself a cheap hire car, or anything else with wheels: trucks,buses, campervans, utes, four wheel drives etc.

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See Katherine and the N.T. in a campervan

Kakadu is the perfect place to go with a camper van! Wide open roads, countless beautiful spots to pull over and camp, the freedom to go where and when you want.
Nothing beats finding your own camping spot in the wild, having a cold beer admiring a wildly coloured outback sunset and a dinner cooked on the campfire under the magnificent starry skies.

Discovery Campervans is an Australian owned and operated company that specialises in organising campervan rentals in Australia but also in New Zealand.

Their fully qualified team handle your reservation queries and overlook all rentals placed. The benefit to you of having a dedicated team is that it provides a level of professionalism, product knowledge and experience to ensure that your rental goes smoothly, and you can enjoy your trip without any hassles. Yes, REAL People work here!

Discovery Campervans has been built and developed with the support and continuing assistance of the largest campervan rental companies in both Australia and New Zealand....
By booking your campervan hire through the Discovery Campervans website, you get to take advantage of our clever technology - showing up to date, competitive comparitive prices - and have the security of renting with established and leading brands in the campervan hire market.
Compare Britz, Maui, Backpacker, Kea and Apollo on one easy to use website.
Save Quotes, look at the layouts and full specifications and compare prices and package inclusions.

Compare Britz, Maui, Backpacker, Kea and Apollo on one easy to use website. Save Quotes, look at the layouts and full specifications and compare prices and package inclusions.


See our page Campervan hire in Australia for more useful info and links on renting a camper or RV in Australia

Tours in Katherine

Katherine Gorge river cruise

katherine gorge nitmiluk river cruise
Katherine Gorge
© NT Tourism Commission

Make your own way along a pleasant 32 kilometer (20 miles) drive on a sealed road from the center of Katherine to the Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge. On arrival, your tour departs the Nitmiluk Centre for an unforgettable experience through the gorges in this environmental wonderland. Travel between sheer canyon walls and marvel at the spectacular scenery or just lean back and relax, letting the world go by.
On arrival at the Gorge, board the tour boat for your tour through the first 2 of the 13 gorges. A walk of approximately 800 metres each way is necessary, so it is recommended to wear good walking shoes. A well trained and knowledgeable guide will accompany you through the tour providing information on the extensive plant and wildlife in the gorges and other items of interest. Ancient Aboriginal paintings can be seen high on cliff walls and Johnstone River crocodiles may be sighted.
More info on two hour cruise....

More info on four hour cruise....


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