Katherine is my one of my favorite places in Northern Territory of Australia. Boasting the magnificent Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge), it is a region full of adventure. When you are tired of hiking, canoeing, camping, you can soak yourself in the amazing Katherine Hot Springs and enjoy really cool water in the middle of the summer. It has so much to offer. How can one not love Katherine? In this post, I’m going to show you the best hiking in Katherine Gorge National Park and you can complete the trail in 1.5 hr.
How to get here?
The town Katherine is 317 km (195 miles) south of Darwin. You can get to Katherine from Darwin by plane, bus, car or train (see travel in Australia). Many people visit Katherine Gorge as part of a round trip from Darwin that also includes Kakadu National Park and Litchfield National Park.
What to do in Katherine Gorge?
Nitmiluk National Park is known for its main attraction: Katherine Gorge. Inside the gorge, there’s so much to do. The best way to see it is to do an overnight trip there, either canoeing or walking. However, if you don’t have that much time, a half-day of hiking and canoeing will still be able to give you a good view of Katherine Gorge.
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Hiking in 1.5 hr
As the weather was too hot, we figured out that canoeing could be too tiring for us, so we opted for walking instead. It wasn’t easy to hike in the national park, mainly due to the scorching hot sun. During the dry season, everything turns dry brown. Although the views did not seem very appealing at that moment, the photos turned out to be surprisingly beautiful. The colors are very rich, portraying a wild and outback feel.
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After close to 1.5 hr of hiking, we finally arrived at the Katherine Gorge. The emerald water was very pleasant to see (finally a change of colour!). Standing on top of the gorge, we occasionally saw cruises passing by. We had fun waving at the people, and seeing the people in the cruises waved back.
Check out the awesome top view from the hill top in the video below!
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Another way to explore the gorge is via cruises. In fact, the Katherine Gorge cruises are so popular, better book well in advance if you would like to do one during the main tourist season (May-September). You can check out all the cruises and tours offered by the national park here.
We actually wanted to go for the Overnight Canoeing trip in order to go farther into the gorge. We heard that the farther it is, the more peaceful and beautiful it becomes. However, we eventually gave up on the idea as it is very physically challenging. But if you are up for the real adventure and would like to camp in the gorge overnight, this option is the best for you! You can check out more information here.
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Katherine Hot Springs
After a good adventure Nitmiluk National Park, relax yourself in the cooling Katherine Hot Springs. Don’t be misled by the name hot spring. It’s more like a swimming instead! Once you reach there, don’t straight away jump into the springs when you walk in. Instead, go farther up and swim in the upstream instead. The water there is much cleaner and there are less people too! Trust me, you’ll have a great time.
Another great place for a dip is Mataranka Thermal Pools and Bitter Springs. They are located 40kms from Katherine and can be visited easily within a day. I personally went to Mataranka and really like the pool there. However, I heard Bitter Springs is even more beautiful and quiet. Arhhhh! A real regret!
Where to stay?
Accommodation choices aren’t many in the Katherine town. Below are the few choices I recommend as they are affordable and at the same time comfortable!
Instead of checking in hotels, we spent our wonderful stay with Claire. With the help of Couchsurfing, we contacted Claire and she happily hosted us! Claire is very open-minded and her lovely son is just adorable. We had so much fun chatting with her and her family. I’m just grateful to have found her. She has two amazing big dogs too. They are energetic and constantly want you to play with them. J If you want to interact with the locals, Claire will be an awesome host.
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If you want some privacy and would love to check in a hotel instead, check out the Pine Tree Motel. Boasting an outdoor pool, a bar and BBQ facilities, Pine Tree Motel is set among tropical gardens. It offers rooms with free Wi-Fi, garden views and access to a shared terrace. It also offers good location.
Located near the centre of Katherine, ibis Styles Katherine features a restaurant, bar, swimming pool and tennis court. The rooms are comfortable at a very good price.
Lastly, be Sun Smart!
The sun in the outback can be fierce. Guides say that walks are best completed from May to September during the cooler, drier months. But to be frank, we went there in August and it wasn’t cool at all in the day! To prevent yourself from dehydration, remember to take enough drinking water (at least 1L per person). Wear sturdy shoes, take a hat, and slop on plenty of sunscreen. Once you are ready, have fun in Katherine!