Located on the river of the same name, Katherine is 320km south of Darwin. It started out as an outpost between Adelaide and Darwin for the Australian Overland Telegraph Line. These days, it’s a simple town with one major supermarket, a few pubs and acts as the ‘Crossroads of the North’.
- With a population of just over 10,000 and 60% indigenous, Katherine is the fourth largest town in the Northern Territory.
- It’s the closest town to the RAAF Base Tindal and provides services to Defence families.
- Traditionally, Katherine was an important meeting place for the Jawoyn and Wardaman people.
- In 1845, explorer Ludwig Leichhardt crossed what is now known as the Katherine River and is the first European to be recorded in the area.
- On his 6th successful journey from the north to south of Australia, John McDouall Stuart crossed the Katherine River in July 1862 and officially named it.
We rocked up on Saturday morning, just in time for the markets. We took advantage of the cheap food and listened to some music before getting down to business. We found a van park to stay the night, did some work in the library, stocked up on fuel and food and then headed to the Stuart Hotel for cheap $10 jugs of TEDs. Turns out the Stuart Hotel has a great tropical beer garden and we enjoyed the friendly guys behind the bar. They also do food, claiming to be Katherine’s cheapest.
Points of Interest
Located only 5km NE from the centre of town, Knotts Crossing is a lovely place to have a picnic and a splash in the waters. If we had more time, we would have spent a whole afternoon here. Knotts Crossing is actually where the originally settlement of Katherine started, when people came to work on the Overland Telegraph Line.
Katherine Hot Springs
A short drive SW from the centre of town brings you to the hot springs, a series of pools that sit at around 32°C. We had a bit of a dip in the afternoon while we chatted with some other happy travellers.
Just behind the Information Centre is a bronze statue of Sabu Peter Sing, a stockman, horseman and bushman who represents all the men and women of the Outback. The erection of the statue was part of the Project of the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association for 2002, Australia’s Year of the Outback.
Nitmiluk National Park
Accessible via Katherine Gorge or Edith Falls, Nitmiluk is the ‘jewel of the region’. You’d have to spend a week in Katherine Gorge to do all the hikes, and also have the endurance because they can be tough. We did three hikes there and were absolutely exhausted.
Edith Falls is a great place to camp and the plunge pool is wonderfully close to the campground.
Cutta Cutta Caves Nature Park
Located just 17km south of Katherine, the Cutta Cutta Caves are a unique attraction with beautiful rock formations. Check out our post here.
Information & Accommodation
The Katherine Visitor Information Centre is located on the Stuart Highway at the southern end of town.
We stayed at Knotts Crossing Resort, very close to the actual Knotts Crossing, and paid only $24 in an unpowered site for the night. Close by was a camp kitchen, amenities, and a restaurant bar. We also had a long chat with some really nice Austrian guys, who filled us in on the non-existence of an Australian-Austrian working visa arrangement.