A must-see of the Top End is Katherine Gorge, situated just 30 kilometres north-east of Katherine nestled in the heart of Nitmiluk National Park. Katherine is the Top End’s third largest town with a pioneering history dating back to the 1860s, it is settled along the banks of the Katherine River, 320 kilometres south-east of Darwin.
Initially named by explorer John McDouall Stuart in the late 1800s after the daughter of an expedition sponsor, the area was later renamed 'Nitmiluk' in 1989 translating to 'cicada place' when traditional owners of the land, the Jawoyn Aboriginal people, gained title to the land.
The highlight of the region is undoubtedly Katherine Gorge and its towering sandstone walls carved by the Katherine River over thousands of years. Made up of thirteen towering gorges, this natural haven borders Kakadu National Park and is home to an abundance of exceptional beauty and stunning landscapes. Filled with hidden natural wonders and rich in indigenous history, the land was recently returned to its traditional owners, the Jawoyn people, resulting in the gorge being renamed Nitmiluk Gorge translating to “place of the cicada dreaming”.
The Jawoyn people place significance on Katherine Gorge and the surrounding geography as part of their cultural and ceremonial history. Having lived in the region for up to 45,000 years, they converted the walls of the Gorge into a canvas depicting the Jawoyn Dream Time stories.
The best way to absorb the majesty of Katherine Gorge is by cruising the Katherine River. Wind your way along the 12-kilometre stretch, between cliff faces reaching more than 70 meters high, carved through the Arnhem Land Plateau. You’ll see ancient Aboriginal rock paintings, pass cascading waterfalls and river rapids. Spot crocodiles basking on the banks, wonderful bird life and some of the most amazing scenery that the Northern Territory has to offer. It has to be seen to be believed.
Along the Stuart Highway just north of Katherine is (Leilyn) Edith Falls, a series of cascading waterfalls and crystal clear rock pools on the western side Nitmiluk National Park. Take a refreshing dip and unwind in the rock pools or hike to the top of the escarpment and enjoy amazing views over the gushing waterfalls. Home to several species of colourful birdlife; make sure you keep a look out for the endangered Gouldian Finch and Hooded Parrot – an absolute treat when spotted!
Choose from a variety of AAT Kings wine and food tours in Katherine Gorge. Choose the most suitable trip for you – tours range from one day trips to a full experience of Northern Territory of up to 13 days.