Destination Name: Katherine & Surrounds
While its star attraction is undoubtedly the famous Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge, Katherine’s surrounds include some of the most incredible fishing regions in Australia, a treasure trove of tucked away hot springs and a diverse indigenous and pioneer history.
Dazzling scenery, a unique history and all types of adventure await visitors in the spectacular Katherine Region. The Jawoyn people first settled the area thousands of years ago. What is now known as the Katherine River provided them with an abundance of food and water and was the foundation of their culture.
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 but it wasn’t until 1862 that the river was named by the explorer John McDouall Stuart. He named it after Catherine, the daughter of his benefactor, James Chambers. The name was misspelt and has remained that way ever since. With the establishment of the Overland Telegraph Station at Knott’s Crossing (where the original pylons can still be seen) the town boomed.
Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park is one of the Territory’s top tourist attractions. The majestic 3,000 square kilometre park is owned and run by the area’s traditional owners, the Jawoyn people. Nitmiluk means Cicada Dreaming, and comes from an important local Dreamtime story. Here the Katherine River flows through 13 spectacular gorges separated by rapids and carved through the Arnhem Plateau before heading northwest to the tidal Daly River and the Timor Sea.
For a truly intrepid adventure, fishing fanatics can head east along the Carpentaria Highway to the Gulf of Carpentaria or west along the Victoria Highway to the mighty Victoria River. These rugged regions challenge even hardy adventurers and their wild waterways team with barramundi and other big catches.