10 Unmissable Things to Do in Katherine, NT in 2024

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Article written by: Rebecca
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Looking for the best things to do in Katherine in the Northern Territory? Here’s everything you need to know about visiting one of my favourite towns in the NT!

The town of Katherine is a welcome break if you’re road tripping from Adelaide to Darwin. This is where the Outback meets the tropics, and after the dry, dusty Outback, you’ll certainly notice the change in climate.

Katherine was one of the highlights of cenour Australian road trip. What was meant to be only a few days’ stopover to stock up and enjoy the town’s attractions – hot springs! national park! – actually turned into two visits to this lovely little spot.

With a population of around 6,000 people – making it the third-largest town in the Northern Territory – it’s got a relaxed vibe, and there’s plenty to do in and around the area.

Here’s everything I loved about this amiable oasis on the Stuart Highway. 

An aerial view of a natural pool - Bitter Springs in Mataranka, Northern Territory - surrounded by lush vegetation. The water is a striking shade of turquoise, indicating clarity and possibly depth. Various shades of green plants outline the irregular shape of the pool, and a well-trodden path with stairs can be seen on the left side, suggesting a point of human access. Visiting Bitter Springs is one of the best things to do in Katherine.
The stunning Bitter Springs in Mataranka, just an hour from Katherine and a must-do when you visit! (Image: Tourism Australia)

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Best things to do in Katherine

If you’re wondering what to do in Katherine for a few days, here are my top 10 picks.

1. Take a dip at Katherine Hot Springs

The Katherine Hot Springs are a must-visit for anyone passing through Katherine. These natural thermal pools are located just 4km from the town centre. We loved this spot so much that we visited every day – sometimes even twice a day!

The water is warm and inviting, hovering around 25 to 30 degrees, and the springs are surrounded by lush greenery.

And it’s free to visit!

Bring a picnic to spread out on the grassy areas and make a day of it.

But be warned – the hot springs does get busy during the dry season, so try to visit early in the morning or late afternoon for a more peaceful experience. If you stay at the Riverview Tourist Park, as we did, which back on to the hot springs, you can be the first ones to arrive (or leave).

People are relaxing in a natural swimming hole - the Katherine Hot Springs - surrounded by a stone ledge with a metal handrail leading into the water. Lush greenery and trees envelop the area, providing a serene backdrop.

2. Explore Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge)

Nitmiluk National Park (often still referred to as Katherine Gorge) is one of Australia’s most stunning national parks. It’s one of the can’t-miss things to do in the Northern Territory.

Just 30km from the town of Katherine, you should plan to spend at least a day here – but I recommend 2 or more days.

Home to 13 gorges carved out by the Katherine River, you can hike, kayak or enjoy a chilled-out cruise on the river.

If you’re hiking, start out at the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre. Grab a map and chat to the rangers – they’ll be able to tell you the best walks for that day and if there are any closures/croc sightings you need to be aware of.

We did the 11.8km Butterfly Gorge trail, which leads to the second gorge. There’s a “beach” at the end of the trail and from here you can jump in for a swim if you dare! We did swim around to a rocky outcrop we could sun ourselves on – and I don’t think I’ve ever swum so fast in my life!

But there are also shorter walks. For the best views of Katherine Gorge, the Baruwei Lookout is a 1.8km return walk from the visitor centre. If your schedule allows it, make sure to catch the spectacular sunset over the gorges – it’s truly a sight to behold.

On the water, you have the choice of an informative and relaxing boat tour with Nitmiluk Tours, a 100% Indigenous-owned and operated business. As you float through the waterways, the guides point out rock art, wildlife and birds, and explain the Jawoyn people’s (the Traditional Owners) connection to the land.

Or, hire a canoe to explore the gorges up close. Cruising at your own pace, you’ll see the national park from a different perspective.

Don’t forget – you’ll need an NT Parks Pass to enter Nitmiluk National Park. You can use this at other national parks in the NT like Litchfield National Park.

A breathtaking view over Nitmiluk Gorge - or Katherine Gorge, as some still call it - with the Katherine River running through it, surrounded by rugged cliffs and lush greenery.

3. Swim at Leliyn (Edith) Falls

Located about 60km north of Katherine, Leliyn (Edith) Falls is a popular spot for both tourists and locals alike.

This stunning waterfall cascades over multiple tiers into a crystal clear swimming hole surrounded by lush greenery. It’s the perfect place to cool off on a hot day in Katherine.

The Edith Falls Plunge Pool is easiest to access – which of course means it’s busier. Beat the crowds and take the 2.6km Leliyn Trail, a loop that takes you through monsoon forest and along the top of the waterfall to the Upper Pool. This is a stunning spot, with a natural pool surrounded by rocky cliffs.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also take on the longer Sweetwater Pool Walk (6.8km return from the Leliyn Trail turnoff). I highly recommend this add-on! Make sure you start early – we were on the trail at about 8am and had Sweetwater Pool to ourselves for about 15 minutes. It gets much busier as the day goes on.

The cascades of the Upper Pool at Leliyn (Edith Falls) in Nitmiluk National Park, Northern Territory. The waterfall pours over rugged rocks into a natural pool with people swimming, set in a rocky landscape under a blue sky.

4. Soak at Bitter Springs and Mataranka Thermal Pool

More hot springs! About an hour’s drive south of Katherine, you’ll find Bitter Springs and Mataranka Thermal Pool. These natural thermal pools are the perfect place to unwind after a day of exploring on a NT road trip.

The waters are a comfortable temperature year-round and both are surrounded by lush palm trees and tropical vegetation.

Bitter Springs and Mataranka Thermal Pool are both part of Elsey National Park, and each offers a different experience.

Of the two, Bitter Springs is my favourite. The waters are a striking turquoise and the setting feels more natural, with vegetation right along the bank and small turtles often spotted.

Take a pool noodle or tube so you can have a more relaxing time and not fight the current the whole time. We didn’t and I felt like I was swimming the whole time, which got tiring. Luckily a very nice guy lent us his girlfriend’s tube while she was having a break beside the springs.

Mataranka Thermal Pool, on the other hand, feels more like a swimming pool – although it’s still surrounded by pandanus and paperbark trees. It’s a short walk from the Mataranka Homestead Resort, so you can grab a meal or a snack here.

Visit both so you can pick your own favourite – they’re both free.

Like Katherine Hot Springs, I recommend getting there early in the morning if you can to avoid the crowds. Parking is also limited. 

Check the latest info before you go – a week after we visited Bitter Springs they pulled a 2.5-metre saltwater croc out of the waters! It’s pretty rare to encounter a saltie (or even a freshwater croc) here, however.

5. Go underground at the Cutta Cutta Caves

If you’re a fan of caves and underground adventures, then the Cutta Cutta Caves are a must-visit in Katherine. Located just 30 minutes south of town, these limestone caves are home to an impressive array of stalactites and stalagmites, as well as some unique wildlife.

You can only visit by guided tour, run by Jawoyn-owned Nitmiluk Tours. The tour takes about an hour. You’ll learn about the geological formations of the caves and the fascinating creatures that call them home, such as ghost bats and leaf-nosed bats.

After your tour, take a walk through the nearby Tropical Savanna Walk where you can spot more wildlife in their natural habitat as well as learn how local plants survive in the Top End.

Tours run on the hour from April to October. Book your tour online here.

Inside the spacious Cutta Cutta Caves in Katherine, Northern Territory, illuminated by artificial lighting. The cave has a variety of rock formations, including stalactites and stalagmites. The textures of the cave walls vary, with some smooth areas and others rough and jagged. A walkway with handrails provides a safe path for visitors to explore the cave's interior.
Katherine’s Cutta Cutta Caves are a fascinating place to visit (Image: Tourism Australia)

6. Learn some new skills at Top Didj

Located just 5 minutes outside of Katherine, the Top Didj Cultural Experience and Art Gallery is a unique opportunity to learn about Indigenous culture and art.

Led by local artist Manuel Pamkal – who is incredibly entertaining – spend two hours learning about Aboriginal art and survival skills, including how to make a fire. You’ll even be able to try your hand at throwing a spear.

There are also some rescued wallabies on the grounds – just refrain from taking these cuties home!

The hands-on tour is a great way to connect with Aboriginal culture. Book a tour online here.

A close-up of two people's hands working on a painting. The person is using a thin, pointed tool to apply white paint onto a dark, rectangular surface with a red background, creating an abstract design. A small, open container of white paint is visible to the side. The hands appear weathered and experienced, suggesting this may be the work of an artisan. Top Didj is a great cultural experience in Katherine, Northern Territory.
Top Didj is a hands-on cultural experience in Katherine (Image: Tourism Australia)

7. Take a sunset dinner cruise

To see Nitmiluk Gorge and Katherine River in a different light, take a sunset dinner cruise.

Also run by Nitmiluk Tours, the 3.5-hour expereince showcases the rugged landscapes and stunning colours of Nitmiluk National Park as you travel along the Katherine River.

A candlelit, three-course meal is included, along with a glass of sparkling wine.

These dinner cruises aren’t cheap but they are a spectacular way to end the day.

We didn’t get to do this on our visits to Katherine, but it’s on our list for when we return. You can book the sunset dinner cruise online here

View of Nitmiluk Gorge from the water, showing the Katherine River surrounded by rocky gorge walls and a cruise boat heading along the water.

8. Discover history at the Katherine Museum

Located near the banks of the Katherine River, the Katherine Museum showcases the rich history of this region, from Indigenous culture to European settlement and World War II.

The museum features a variety of exhibits including photographs, artefacts, and interactive displays that offer a glimpse into the past. You can learn about the Traditional Owners of the land, the Jawoyn people, and their cultural practices.

You can also see how European settlers transformed the area into a thriving town.

One of the highlights of the museum is its display on World War II. Katherine played an important role in Australia’s defence during this time, becoming a major supply centre for the war effort. The exhibits feature stories, photographs and personal items from soldiers stationed in Katherine.

9. Go shopping at Mimi Arts

If you’re looking for a special piece of Indigenous art, Mimi Aboriginal Art & Craft is the place to go. This shop has a good range of authentic Aboriginal artwork, including paintings, sculptures, textiles and jewellery, as well as a gallery if you just want to take a look.

Mimi Arts is focused on supporting and promoting indigenous artists, representing artists across a 380,000 square kilometre areas.

10. Hike the Jatbula Trail

Got a few days in Katherine? Consider tackling the Jatbula Trail, one of the most popular multi-day hikes in Australia.

This 62-kilometre trek takes you through stunning landscapes, from waterfalls and swimming holes to ancient gorges.

The trail starts at Nitmiluk National Park and ends at Leliyn (Edith) Falls, passing by beautiful gorges and breathtaking views. There are plenty of places to wash off the dust along the way and take a refreshing dip in crystal-clear waters.

The trail can be completed in 5 to 6 days, with hiking distances ranging from 8km to 16km each day. 

Make sure to plan ahead and secure the necessary permits for this hiking experience in Katherine – only 15 people are allowed on the trail each day.

A woman - the author of this article - wearing a hat, backpack, and shorts walking away on a dirt path surrounded by tall grass and sparse trees under a clear sky. This is a portion of the Jatbula Trail in Nitmiluk National Park, Northern Territory, Australia.

Essential info for visiting Katherine

When to visit Katherine

The best time to visit Katherine is during the dry season from April/May to October when temperatures are pleasant and there’s little chance of rain. This is also the peak tourist season, so expect larger crowds and higher prices for accommodation.

The wet season from December to March brings heavy rainfall and humidity, making it less suitable for outdoor activities. However, this is when waterfalls are at their most spectacular and lush greenery covers the landscape. But flooding can often close sites like the Katherine Hot Springs and parts of Nitmiluk National Park, so check before you go.

How many days do you need in Katherine?

I recommend spending at least 3-4 days in Katherine. This will give you enough time to explore the town and everything around it without feeling rushed.

Where is Katherine NT?

Katherine is 317km south of Darwin, with the Stuart Highway running right through the town.

From Adelaide to Katherine, it’s 2,717km.

How to get to Katherine

By car

Katherine is a popular stopover on the Adelaide to Darwin route. It’s right on the Stuart Highway.

If you’re driving from Darwin to Katherine, it’s a 3-hour drive on the Stuart Highway. From Alice Springs to Katherine, it’s a much longer 12-hour drive (you can make it part of an Alice Springs to Uluru road trip).

You can rent a car in either city – check rates and availability here.

By air

There are flights from Darwin to Katherine (approximately 1 hour) with Airnorth. You can rent a car in Katherine – you’ll need one to get around.


By bus

There are daily Greyhound bus services between Darwin and Katherine. The trip takes around 4 hours and costs about $100 one-way. You can also reach Katherine from Adelaide via Greyhound.

Where to stay in Katherine

We stayed at the Riverview Tourist Village (⭐️ 8.0/10) in our camper trailer. I think it’s one of the best caravan parks in Katherine. We loved it so much that we ended up staying there for more than a week over two different visits! It’s right by the hot springs, so you can be first in when the gates open in the morning. There are cabins and caravan/camping sites. Check rates online.

Other great accommodation in Katherine options are:

  • The Contour Hotel (⭐️ 8.0/10), set on four acres of tropical gardens. There are tennis courts, a swimming pool, restaurants, barbecue facilities and a bar. Check rates and availability on Booking.com or Expedia
  • Knotts Crossing Resort (⭐️ 7.3/10) – Close to the Katherine River, this resort has a range of accommodation options, from cabins to motel-style rooms. It also has a restaurant and swimming pool. Check rates and availability on Booking.com

If you want to stay in Nitmiluk National Park, there are also options. Right inside the park is the famous Cicada Lodge (⭐️ 8.9/10). It’s operated by the Jawoyn Traditional Owners and has hotel rooms, cabins and a campground. Check rates and availability on Booking.com or Expedia.

There are also several park-managed campsites in the national park. The most easily accessible campsites are the two in the Leliyn section (there’s the Edith Falls camping site right at the car park or you can hike into Sweetwater Pool campsite).

The campsites in Nitmiluk Gorge are remote sites (other than the campground at Cicada Lodge mentioned above) that you’ll need to walk to.

A camping trailer with an attached canvas tent is set up outdoors. The tent is extended over a picnic table with chairs, cooking equipment, and various camping supplies. Trees and another vehicle are visible in the background.
Our camper trailer set up at the Riverview Tourist Resort in Katherine

Where to eat in Katherine

Katherine doesn’t have a huge dining scene, but there are a few great options.

We loved the Pop Rocket Café. Right by the Katherine Hot Springs, grab a coffee, pastry or sandwich. The Black Russian Caravan Bar is also a fun spot, serving up toasties oozing cheese and good coffee.

Another popular spot is the Katherine Country Club, where you’ll find typical pub dishes like fish and chips (using NT barramundi), steak and pizza.

Patrons are seated at red tables outside the "Pop Rocket Cafe" made from a shipping container. Trees provide shade overhead, and a sign indicates seating is for café customers only. The setting is casual and welcoming.
The Pop Rocket Cafe in Katherine is a popular place to eat

Essential services in Katherine

Katherine is a good place to stock up. There’s a Woolworths in town as well as a Coles Express.

There’s also a great camping store, Katherine Camping & Fishing, that has everything you could ever need, from camping fridges to chairs to mosquito coils. We found the prices to be pretty reasonable for a country town.

For helpful tips and advice, the Katherine Visitor Information Centre, on the corner or Lindsay St and Katherine Terrace.

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What are your favourite things to do in Katherine in the NT?

Related posts

Before you go… you might like these Australian travel guides:


  • Book your flight to Australia online with Skyscanner. I like this site because it shows me which dates are cheaper.
  • Find a great hotel in Australia. Check prices on Booking.com and Expedia online.
  • Check out the huge range of day tours throughout Australia on GetYourGuide or Viator. There’s something for everyone.
  • A copy of the Lonely Planet guide to Australia will be handy.
  • One thing I always purchase is travel insurance! Travel Insurance Master allows you to compare across multiple policy providers, while SafetyWing is great for long-term travellers and digital nomads.
  • Pack sunscreen (look for SPF50 or higher), a hat and sunglasses because the sun is hot!


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I'm a travel junkie who started dreaming about seeing the world from a very young age. I've visited more than 40 countries and have a Master of International Sustainable Tourism Management. A former expat, I've lived in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Argentina and the United States. I share travel resources, tips and stories based on my personal experiences, and my goal is to make travel planning just that bit easier.

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