Katherine Region Accommodation, Hotels, Tours & Information

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Katherine Region

The Katherine Region covers the area of the Northern Territory from the Top End line across the Territory in the Pine Creek area down to Elliott from the Western Australian border to the Queensland border. This area includes such towns as Katherine, Borroloola, Timber Creek, the Victoria River Region, Mataranka and Dunmurra.

The Katherine Region is as diverse as it is vast. In Katherine and in any direction you head, you will enjoy an adventure. It is also the site of one of the Territory's most majestic attractions -“ Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk).

The Katherine township is located 310 kilometres south of Darwin on the Stuart Highway. It is a modern town with all facilities for the traveller. Katherine boasts numerous natural attractions and a diverse history.

The first people of the area were the Jawoyn people. They used the river as a foundation to their culture as it provided an abundance of food and water. Ludwig Leichhardt was the first European to visit the area during his 1844 expedition to Port Essington, where he discovered the headwaters of the Katherine River. It was not until 1862 that the river was named by the explorer John McDouall Stuart. He named the river after Catherine, the daughter of his benefactor, James Chambers. The name was misspelled and has remained that way. The town developed with the establishment of the Overland Telegraph Station at Knott's Crossing, where the original pylons can still be seen. Knott's Crossing was the original site of the Katherine township. However, with the development of the railway line the town moved to be near the railhead and was called Emungalan (stony place) on the north side of the river in 1917. This was temporary until 1926 when the railway bridge was opened and the town relocated to its present site. Near the Knott's Crossing is the privately owned Sportsman's Arms Hotel that was first run in 1883 by Tom Pearce. Pearce was mentioned in Jeannie Gunn's 'We of the Never Never' after she'd met him on her journey south to Elsey Station near Mataranka. Not long after the Overland Telegraph Station was completed Alfred Giles established Springvale, one of the first pastoral runs in the Northern Territory. Giles managed to build the sandstone homestead that has survived time and flood and pioneered the pastoral industry for others to follow. Today Katherine is a thriving community of approximately 11,500 people. It is the hub of the Katherine Region. It services the pastoral properties and communities in outlying areas and incorporates some of the most spectacular untouched wilderness areas on earth with the spectacular sandstone cliffs and clear green waters of the Katherine Gorge.

Katherine is a multicultural community and the friendly locals welcome you to their town. Those wanting to explore Katherine in more detail should collect their copies of Discovering Katherine from the Katherine Visitor Information Centre. There are a number of historic sites around town, some managed by the National Trust. The 3,000 square kilometre Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park received its name from the traditional Jawoyn owners' meaning Cicada Dreaming, which is one of the area's important Dreamtime stories. It is home to Edith Falls and is where the Katherine River, beginning in the wild escarpment country of Arnhem Land, flows through 13 spectacular gorges separated by its rapids, and carved through the Arnhem Plateau before heading north west to the tidal Daly River and the Timor Sea. Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park is one of the Territory's top tourist attractions, and its rugged scenery and startling variety of plants can best be appreciated on its many walking tracks.

With the Park only 30 kilometres north of Katherine via the sealed Gorge Road, there are over 100 kilometres of walking tracks begin at the Visitor Centre. Because of the abundance of water, the Park is vibrant with life, not only Barramundi and freshwater crocodiles, but rare birds like Crimson and Double-barred Finches, as well as goannas, bats and wallabies. If you make the trip to Edith Falls, you'll find another tranquil setting for swimming and hiking. Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) takes on a different character depending on the season. You can swim, canoe or cruise between the sheer cliffs to the sandy freshwater beaches of the main gorges and ancient Aboriginal rock paintings high on rock faces. For a must-do experience, see all 13 gorges of Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) by helicopter or light plane, especially in the Tropical Summer (October to March) when all the waterfalls are thundering. Other natural attractions are emerging from the fantastic shadow of the Gorge. These include the Flora River Nature Park, Umbrawarra Gorge, Gregory National Park, Elsey National Park and Butterfly Gorge. Combine this scenic beauty with a tour and the larrikan spirit of the locals and you're set for the adventure of a lifetime! So Katherine is the place for a real life experience and if you have a desire for difference it is the place to get off the track. Stay a while and fully appreciate the attractions. Why not wander around and have a chat to the friendly local characters? Katherine boasts numerous natural attractions and a diverse heritage. Venture south from the Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) to Mataranka. Mataranka is the setting of the famous Australian historical novel, 'We of the Never Never' is a welcome stop for all travellers. Mataranka is known for the biggest bath tub in the Territory -“ the soothing Mataranka Thermal Pool. The warm, crystalline waters of this natural pool have the power to rejuvenate bodies tired from a long day on the road. Ease gently into it and you'll feel the aches and cares of the day drift gently away. The water in Mataranka Thermal Pool is spring-fed and bubbles up from deep within the Earth at a fairly constant temperature of 34 degrees Celsius. Almost as beautiful as the Thermal Pool is the surrounding paperbark and palm forest which filters the sun and leaves soft, dappled light playing on the water's surface. The area around the Pool is a natural breeding ground for the Little Red Flying Fox. The breeding season is traditionally in the wet season (October to March) but often extend into the dry (April to September). During the breeding season and whilst the babies are maturing Parks and Wildlife Rangers conduct afternoon guided walks. Aside from the Thermal pool, the area has pockets of rainforests, waterfalls and plenty of widlife. Relax and take walks around the Roper River or canoe in Elsey National Park. Explore the regions history at the 'Museum of the Never Never', the Elsey Homestead replica near Mataranka Homestead and Elsey Cemetery. There is also Barramundi feeding daily at the Territory Manor. Mataranka township is located on the Stuart Highway. To reach the Thermal Pool and Elsey National Park, turn into the homestead road, 2 kilometres south of Mataranka. An area of great significance in the Territory's pastoral history is the Victoria River Region which is the site of the famous Victoria River Downs cattle station. Today, the region (the main route to Western Australia) is famous for its great fishing, rugged escarpment and wilderness areas such as Keep River and Gregory National Parks, as well as its picturesque landscape of boab trees. Timber Creek is the main township servicing the region and is also one of the access points to the Victoria River, home of some of the Territory's biggest fish.

River cruises and scenic flights are available at Timber Creek. Victoria River Crossing is west of Katherine on the Victoria Highway. The Victoria River Crossing is a convenient resting place for those venturing into Gregory National Park. Tours of the Victoria River Valley operate from here.

Katherine Region Map

Katherine Region Map - Legend
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