We have pulled together a bucket list of things to do in Katherine.
Our readers loved our original list of outback friendly experiences and adventures in Katherine. But as it’s almost 2020, we thought we’d pull together a new and improved, fully updated bucket list of things to do in Katherine.
So, here are our top things to do in Katherine for 2019, starting with Katherine Outback Experience of course.
Katherine Outback Experience
Owned and operated by multiple Golden Guitar winner, Tom Curtain, Katherine Outback Experience is an outback show celebrating life on the land through real horse-starting and working dog demonstrations entwined with live music and humorous bush tales. The show is in a constant state of evolution and is all about the training of the horses and dogs for working life on Australian cattle stations. Things don’t always go to plan, but that’s part of the beauty of the show. A fun, engaging and educational show for all ages and great for all levels of mobility.
Where: 115 Collins Road, Uralla, Katherine. 6km east of the Katherine Visitor Information Centre
When: April to the end of October
Tip: Guests are welcome to BYO drinks and nibbles. Tom does have a tenancy to go over time so we recommend allowing yourself an extra 30 minutes. Plan ahead and book online in advance to avoid the disappointment shows selling out. Kids 5 years and under are FREE.
Edith/ Leliyn Falls
Edith Falls in the Nitmiluk National Park is one of Katherine’s best swimming spots. The Falls are a stunning natural series of cascading waterfalls and pools on the Edith River that descend from 176 metres above sea level and range in height between 8.7–12m. There are trails to the top of the escarpment, giving visitors an absolutely stunning view of the waterfalls.
Take the short hike to the middle and top pools before cooling off in the beautiful fresh (and crocodile-free) water. If you have more time, take the overnight walk for a secluded swim in the lovely Sweetwater Pool. You’ll need a permit to stay overnight so be sure to book early.
After your swim, drop-in at the gorgeous little Leliyn Edith Kiosk for a well-deserved coffee or ice-cream.
Entry is free however you will need a moderate level of mobility to get to the middle and upper pools. A great activity for kids!
Where: 40km north of Katherine off the Stuart Highway. Drive a further 20km until you get to the park.
When: All year subject to rainfall and flooding.
Tip: The walk to the middle pool is up and down rocks so wear good walking shoes and take a water bottle and hat. You won’t be disappointed.
Top Didj Aboriginal Cultural Experience
Experience a truly authentic and hands on indigenous cultural experience led by Manuel Pamkal, winner of the Tourism NT Brolga Award in 2013. This fantastic two-and-a-half-hour experience will teach you about local indigenous culture (both traditional and contemporary) as you learn to paint using a reed brush, make fire from sticks and try your hand at spear throwing with a wommera.
Be sure to take a look in the on-site Katherine Art Gallery which stocks an extensive selection of Aboriginal paintings from the wider region of Katherine and beyond. Prices are reasonable and staff are very knowledgeable.
This an extremely popular experience so be sure to book in advance. And don’t miss the very friendly wallabies!
Where: Located on Gorge Road about 10 minutes from town at the corner of Gorge and Jaensch Roads.
Tip: An experience the whole family can enjoy – you may even get to cuddle a wallaby!
Nitmiluk National Park
Just a 25-minute drive from Katherine Town Centre, the spectacular Nitmiluk Gorge (also known as Katherine Gorge) has endless opportunities the whole family can enjoy. You can choose from a range of gorge cruises, hike one of the many trails or spend the day canoeing on the beautiful Katherine River. The Nitmiluk Visitor Centre has an extensive range of merchandise and souvenirs as well as a bistro.
Where: Nitmiluk Visitor Centre – 25 minutes from Katherine.
When: All year round subject to flooding
Tip: Wear comfortable footware on the boat cruises as there is some walking over rocks. Check canoeing is open before arriving.
Marksie’s Stockman’s Camp Tucker Night
A truly unique outback bush tucker experience, Marksie’s Stockman’s Dinner pays tribute to all the Australian camp oven outback cooks of the past 100 years. You’ll dine in a bush campsite, with the phenomenal Top End stars overhead, and the native wildlife roaming around you.
At Marksie’s you’ll enjoy traditional stews and dampers flavoured with native bush fruits, foods, herbs and spices, for a truly Australian taste experience. While you eat, you can enjoy Marksie’s wild, outrageous stories about bush life of the past.
Don’t miss their famous ‘native jungle juice’, a non-alcoholic drink inspired by native herbs and spices. Other drinks are BYO and bookings are essential.
Where: Located on Gorge Road about 10 minutes from town at the corner of Gorge and Jaensch Roads.
When: April- October. This year they will close on 10th October 2019.
Tip: Drinks are BYO and bookings are essential.
Discover Nitmiluk National Park from the sky with award-winning Helispirit scenic flights, giving a bird’s eye view of the stunning ancient landscape of gorges, plateaus and seasonal waterfalls. Helispirit offers six different tours of varying lengths to choose from, but all will show you a different perspective of this network of gorges carved into the earth’s surface. The longer flights show off Arnhem Land and the Jatbula Trail as well as 17 Mile Falls and 17 Mile Creek.
Keep an eye out for wild brumbies and buffalo!
Where: Maude Creek Airfield, 1425 Gorge Road, Katherine
When: April through October
Tip: The departure point is 1425 Gorge Road, Katherine at the Maude Creek Airfield. The airfield is outside of Nitmiluk National Park which means if you are traveling with pets, they can be left in the shade at the base whilst you fly.
You can’t miss the Katherine Museum, with its distinctive pink airplane out front, and you won’t want to either. The museum collects and preserves the region’s cultural heritage and artefacts, including indigenous, military and rural items.
The historical building itself was the passenger terminal and air radio building for the Katherine Aerodrome. It was used for 30 years from 1945 until the Aerodrome officially closed in 1975.
It’s a small museum, but worth taking your time (some visitors recommend up to three hours!). And don’t miss the movie on the 1995 floods!
Where: Lot 2922, Gorge Rd Katherine, 3km from the town centre
When: Open 9am to 4pm daily between April and October, reduced hours from October through December and March through April, closed from December to February.
Katherine Hot Springs
The Katherine Hot Springs are natural thermal springs situated on the banks of the Katherine River. They are a series of clear pools framed by native vegetation and walking trails which have been created for swimming, relaxing and picnicking.
The main pool has a gravel bed that keeps the water crystal clear and there are guide rails and wheel chair access. At the top of the springs is the Pop Rocket Café which serves an assortment of delicious light meals and drinks.
With easy access and at a comfortable temperature of 32C, this is certainly an activity the whole family can enjoy for FREE!
Where: Riverbank Drive, Katherine South
When: Daily, 24 hours, April to October
Tip: The Hot Springs are currently undergoing a redevelopment and access may be restricted until the end of 2019.
Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts & Culture Centre
Locally known as GYRACC, this is a place for the art-lovers! The stunning main gallery hosts visual arts exhibitions showcasing works of NT indigenous and non-indigenous artists.
The centre also hosts an array of local and touring music, dance, cabaret, comedy and drama acts.
Check out the GYRACC website for upcoming events.
Where: Lot 3238 Stuart Highway, Katherine East NT (not far from Katherine Outback Experience)
When: Tuesday to Friday 10am-5pm; Saturday 10am-3pm
Cutta Cutta Caves
Delve 15 metres below the surface to discover the limestone caves formed millions of years ago. Cutta Cutta Caves Nature Park is located 30km south of Katherine and covers 1,499 hectares of karst limestone landscape, found in only a few locations in northern Australia.
Cutta Cutta Caves is home to a variety of native wildlife, including the brown tree snake and the rare orange horseshoe bat. The park is open year-round subject to seasonal conditions but be sure to check the website in advance as tour times change seasonally as well.
Where: 20 minute drive east from Katherine towards Mataranka just off the Stuart Highway
When: Open all year round subject to the weather
Katherine School of the Air Tour
Take a tour of the world’s biggest classroom! At the School of the Air, 1.5km from the Katherine town centre, you can listen in on a class and see how 163 kids from preschool to Year 9 are educated in areas where there is no physical school. The 60-minute tours take you through the history of distance Education in the Northern Territory and how technology has shaped the school. Guided tours are only held once a day, so be sure to check the website as those times are subject to change.
When: Open Monday to Friday (except public holidays) from April to September. The last day for tours this year is 27 September 2019.
Gecko Canoeing & Trekking
Gecko Canoeing & Trekking is one of our favourite companies in the Top End. Being locally based, they are passionate about the Katherine region and have incredibly high guiding standards. They’re also very focussed on their guests, ensuring their experience is everything they want it to be.
Try Gecko’s award winning ‘River Tour Range’ which enables you to experience the Katherine River at its best. Comfortable down-stream touring, incredible wildlife close-ups and sleeping under the stars while someone else cooks and tidies up for you. Or take a guided trek along the Dreaming Place Trail from the Manyallaluk Aboriginal Community to Nitmiluk Gorge. Whatever you choose, Gecko will make sure your experience in the Top End is top notch.
Gecko Canoeing & Trekking offers a range of tour options designed and priced to suit your needs. Some of the tours include:
- Katherine River 3 Day
- Katherine Flora Daly 6 Day
- Ord River 5 Day
- Wickham River 6 Day
- Nitmiluk Gorge Descent
When: April through October
Tip: Mick knows his birds and wildlife – we could sit listening to his stories for hours!
The Jatbula Trail is arguably one of the best bushwalks in the world, and certainly in Australia. This five (or six) day, 62 kilometre one-way walk takes you past waterfalls, monsoon rainforests, sandstone plateau scrub, woodlands, riverine landscapes, Aboriginal rock art and crystal clear swimming holes. And each night you’ll camp at a new stunning location.
The trail starts at the Nitmiluk Gorge and takes you all the way to Edith Falls. Though incredible, it’s not for the faint-hearted. But if you’re ready to tackle the Jatbula Trail, grab your hiking permit sooner than later as they sell out fast (sometimes twelve months in advance).
Where: The trail starts near 17 Mile Creek. There is a ferry service from Nitmiluk Gorge to the trail head.
When: Open year round, but from December to April you’ll need special permission from the parks.
Elsey National Park
Best known as the setting for the Australian novel, We of the Never Never, Elsey National Park is a hidden gem. Only an hour’s drive south of Katherine, explore the area’s heritage sites, like the Old Elsey Cemetery, the Old Sheep Dip or the World War II Aboriginal Army Camp walk. Cool down with a swim in the Mataranka Thermal Pool (at a year-round 34 degrees), surrounded by gorgeous paperbarks.
Elsey is also really popular with fisherman, canoers and bushwalkers who love to enjoy the serene Roper River that runs through the park.
Where: 1.5 kilometres south of Mataranka
When: Open daily, 24 hours
Now… where to stay when you visit? Katherine has a range of accommodation to suit all budgets, from camping and caravan parks, to hotels, motels, resorts – and at the top end of the scale there is Cicada Lodge – located within Nitmiluk National Park. A great place to base yourself while exploring the Katherine region.
Have you got other experiences or activities to add to our list of family friendly things to do in Katherine? Leave us a comment below to let others know what else you recommend.