Campervan in Katherine Gorge - Outback Guide
Katherine Gorge is situated within the Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park, which spans an impressive 292,800 hectares. Some of the park's features include spectacular dissected sandstone country, broad valleys and numerous, significant cultural sites.
However, the heart of the park can be found in the deep gorge that has been carved through ancient sandstone by the Katherine River. The scenery of the gorge is absolutely stunning; in fact, words simply cannot describe it.
The whole park is overflowing with unsurpassed beauty, unique and fascinating flora and fauna, incredible stories of Aboriginal history and culture and eye-catching displays of Aboriginal rock art.
But the best part about the park is without a doubt its peace, serenity and solitude. If you can travel here in the off-peak season and therefore avoid the tourists, you will be blessed by an exquisite land that will reveal to you the true treasures of the outback.
The town of Katherine is situated 317 kilometres south of Darwin and can be reached via the Stuart Highway. Many people choose to visit Katherine as part of a round trip of Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks, but this is entirely up to each individual traveller.
Katherine Gorge itself is only 29 kilometres north-east of Katherine and can be reached via the Gorge Road.
Airports and Campervan Depots
There are two main airports tourists use to fly into the Northern Territory. Alice Springs Airport and Darwin International Airport are both located near campervan depots and are ideal places to begin your campervan holiday in Katherine.
Campervan travellers can choose to either pick up their vehicle from Alice Springs or Darwin. A one-way rental is a popular option for those wishing to simply travel between the two and not backtrack on where they have already driven.
Park Use Fees
There are no park entrance fees for Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park. However kayaking and camping within the park do incur costs.
What to See and Do
There are a wide range of boat tours available within the park, ranging from 2 hours to half day cruises. Some of the cruises will allow you to explore all of the gorges in the park. When booking you should check to see if swimming is an option, and be sure to bring along a shady hat and plenty of sunscreen.
Canoeing is a popular way to explore Katherine Gorge, and visitors have the option of bringing their own or hiring one at the gorge. Fees apply either way.
There are some great walks available within the park, that each expose the untouched beauty that is abundant here. However, for all those keen hikers out there, the Jatbula Trail simply cannot be passed up. This is a seasonal walk from Nitmiluk to Leliyn (Edith Falls), spanning an impressive 60 kilometres and taking at least 5 days to complete.
Leliyn (Edith Falls)
Leliyn is located on the western boundary of the park and is popular with visitors travelling northwards. There is a campground here if you choose to stay the night, but you will need to bring your own firewood in.
The picnic area within the park provides gas barbeques, picnic tables, toilet facilities and a public swimming pool. There is also a boat ramp and launching jetty nearby, which is also perfect for canoes. The information board at the picnic ground is also a good source for information about the local flora, fauna, geology, walks, points of interest and activities.
Climate and Weather
Visitors can expect a tropical climate when they visit the beautiful Katherine Gorge. There are essentially two seasons in the year; the wet and the dry. The wet season occurs from November to April and is generally very hot and humid. The dry season occurs throughout the remainder of the year and brings with it clear skies almost every day.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Katherine Gorge is without a doubt from May to September. These months are much more comfortable in terms of weather and the park truly is in all of its splendour during this time.
What to wear?
The best form of clothes to wear while visiting Katherine Gorge are those that are loose-fitting but are still suitable for protecting skin from the harsh sun. It is important to bring along a lot of sunscreen and always keep your sunglasses on hand.
The temperature can drop dramatically at night so it is important to bring warm clothes as well.
The park is home to an astounding 168 species of birds and these are the most often seen wildlife within the park. Some of the most common birds seen within the park are the Fairy Martins, Peregrine Falcons, the Great Bowerbird, Crimson Finch and the Blue-winged kookaburra. Parrots and Rosellas have also been known to frequent the park.
Wallabies, flying foxes and dingoes make up the mammal population, while the freshwater crocodiles dominate the reptile environment.
Driving Restrictions and Tips
The Gorge Road into the park is all sealed; therefore a 4WD is not needed for access. Access restrictions can apply during the wet season, due to flooding, so it is advisable to check the weather report before travelling here.
Katherine Gorge is of course located near the lovely outback town of Katherine. As the fourth-largest town in the Northern Territory, Katherine has a population of just under 10,000 people and is a thriving regional centre that boasts all the facilities of a small outback town.
Nitimiluk is also a neighbour to the lovely Kakadu National Park which is another of Australia's most remarkable natural highlights.
What to bring?
It is absolutely necessary to bring plenty of water to Nitmiluk National Park, regardless of the length of your stay. Ensuring you always have fuel in your petrol tank is also important as distances between roadhouses can be vast.
Appropriate clothing, sun protection, insect repellant and shoes are also vital, because of the changing weather conditions. This is the outback, so remember it gets extremely hot!
Another must-have for your campervan adventure in Katherine Gorge is your camera. The gorge is a truly remarkable sight so being snap happy will ensure you can keep your memories of it forever.
Places to Stay
BIG4 Katherine Low Level Caravan Park
Situated right near Katherine Gorge and Edith Falls, this BIG4 Caravan Park is the perfect place to stay to soak up the wonder and awe of this incredible region. Park your campervan in one of the many shady sites and enjoy the park's many facilities including wireless internet, a pool, BBQ facilities and a laundry.
Crab Claw Island Resort
The camping grounds in the Crab Claw Island Resort are lovely and shaded and provide a pleasant break from the harsh outback sun. There are 19 powered sites on offer here and many of them are situated right on the water's edge.
The town of Katherine is home to a modern air-conditioned shopping centre, hospital and several recreational areas, including a public pool.
A total of 3 petrol stations can be found in and around the town of Katherine.
The Shell Katherine Self Service is situated on Katherine Terrace and is centrally located in town making it ideal for fuelling up for exploring the National Park.
There are also two BP stations, one on Katherine Terrace and another just out of town on Zimmen Drive. The former is open 24-hours and is useful for travellers just passing through the area.
Petrol in the outback also tends to be more expensive in the outback. For the latest information on Australian fuel prices visit Motormouth.
For a more comprehensive list of roadhouses in the Northern Territory and beyond, visit our 101 Outback Roadhouses in Australia.