Things to do in Katherine Gorge, Northern Territory

One of the highlights of our Northern Territory road trip and visiting the Top End of Australia was taking in the splendor of Katherine Gorge.

Located in Nitmiluk National Park, this is one of our top 25 National Parks in Australia so far.

A body of water surrounded by trees
The beauty of Katherine Gorge

Katherine Gorge is made up of thirteen gorges carved through ancient sandstone by the Katherine River. These gorges have great ceremonial significance to the local Jawoyn people, who are custodians of Nitmiluk National Park.

Like Kakadu National Park its an ancient region rich with Indigenous culture and history.

A natural treasure of the Northern Territory and one of Australia’s most impressive outback regions, at just a 4-hour drive from Darwin I highly recommend you include it in your itinerary for any visit to the Top End or Northern Territory road trip.

Top Attraction: Katherine Gorge Cruise

Katherine Gorge Cruise Northern Territory, Australia
Katherine Gorge Cruise

One of the popular ways to experience Katherine Gorge is via a cruise. We chose the 2-hour dawn break cruise and it was magical to see it awaken in the morning light.

As we were visiting during the dry season we didn’t get to see any running waterfalls and would love to come back just after the wet season for a different perspective – this visit really wet the appetite.

It’s called the breakfast cruise, but forget the eating, it’s more about the stunning scenery.

Things to do in Katherine Gorge, NT
Beautiful scenery in Katherine Gorge, NT
A canyon with a river running through
Reflection love
piles of rocks
You can hop out and walk around as well.

Seeing the gorge at first light was beautiful and we highly recommend you do that cruise.

The Katherine Gorge cruise takes you deep into the network of waterways that flow through the Katharine Gorge. You jump out at various states for short walks between the gorges, which allows you to see more of the landscape.

Guides were very informative throughout the cruise with their commentary about the wildlife and Aboriginal people of this land, the Jawoyn.

Kayak Katherine Gorge

We couldn’t do the kayaking trip as Savannah was too young, but I have done it previously and it also comes highly recommended by our community.

Definitely, make a day of it and paddle into the second gorge, which I found the most beautiful.

Kayak Katherine Gorge
kayak Katherine Gorge
people kayaking
Kayaking the gorge is fun

Our friends had a stand up paddle board which he took into the gorge of an evening for a paddle near the camping area and loved it.

We were a little nervous about crocs.

Speaking of which

Are there crocodiles in Katherine Gorge?

There are saltwater crocodiles further downstream in the Katherine River.

Guides and locals will say that Katherine Gorge is a “no-go” zone for saltwater crocodiles as it is not a suitable habitat to start with. It is closely monitored at all times.

There are traps located downstream from the gorge entrance, the direction where any crocodiles would be coming from.

We saw many of these traps on our cruise and they work hard to get them out at the end of the wet season when the rivers are high and the male cros are moving around. So they can come into the gorge then and a few crocs have been relocated.

The authorities are very thorough at ensuring the gorge is clear before they open it to swimmers.

There are freshwater crocodiles in Katherine Gorge which don’t bother me and we’ve swam in regions where they are before like Boodjamalla Falls, and Lake Argyle.

So it’s up to you and your comfort levels. Crocs scare me more than anything so I wasn’t taking a chance. There haven’t been any croc related issues in Katherine Gorge.

Walk to Barrawei Lookout, Nitmiluk National Park

Barrawei Lookout, Nitmiluk National Park
Wonderful family hike with views

Do the 3.2km loop walk up to the lookout which offers great views over the gorge.

You can do the shorter walk taking a steep climb up to Barrawei Lookout from the Katherine River and back down again. It gets very hot here so be prepared and hike early. It would also be good for sunset.

There are plenty of other walking trails. If we didn’t have the kids with us, I’d take on the 12 km Butterfly Gorge walk.

Katherine Gorge Sunset with the fruit bats

Katherine River sunset
Sunset on the Katherine River

If you’re staying in Nitmiluk National Park, in the evening at sunset walk down to where the tour boats leave from and view the hundreds of fruit bats flying over the river.

It’s an amazing site to see.

Katherine Gorge fruit bats at sunset
Bats aplenty

Katherine Gorge Camping

Nitmiluk Caravan Park is the perfect place to stay right near the entrance to Katherine Gorge, about a 30-minute drive from the town of Katherine.

You can easily walk to the gorge, it’s clean, tidy, shady and has a great swimming pool. You’ll need it!

Katherine Gorge campsite
Good camp spots.

If you want a bit more luxury, you can stay at Cicada Lodge in Katherine Gorge.

Do you require a rental car for your trip to Katherine Gorge? Our partner, can help you find the best deals.

More Northern Territory Travel Tips

Can you picture yourself at Katherine Gorge?

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