Updated: May 25
20 September 2018
A kind soul from Katherine followed us into the petrol station and urged us to get our one year old caravan serviced before the very loud creaking turned into something more serious. We thanked him and muttered under our breaths about the poor workmanship.
More importantly, Katherine provided us with easy parking and a large supermarket to replenish the pantry. We stayed just outside of town at the Manbulloo Homestead Caravan Park. Not only did it have plenty of shade, but it was quiet too.
The kids enjoyed the many bird aviaries and pets around the park and the caretaker had some of the best local knowledge we'd come across. A short stroll through the park took us straight down to the Katherine River.
Despite the caretaker's advice, we didn't arrive at Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge the following day until mid-morning, when the sun was already fierce.
I'd planned to hire some canoes and paddle down the gorge, but the searing heat and the thought of carrying them over some difficult areas made us unwilling.
The gorge offered beautiful waterways, views and Aboriginal artwork, but by this point in our trip we'd seen a lot of this already and we were a bit gorged-out!
Tip #1: I've cruised and canoed up the Katherine Gorge on previous trips and really enjoyed it. Adventurous travellers will appreciate getting out on the water and packing a picnic lunch to enjoy along the river banks.
We decided to climb to the Baruwei Lookout and walk along the escarpment instead. This was worth doing and provided great views along the gorge.
We were advised by a local school teacher not to do the loop walk, especially during the heat of the day when there is little shade.
We really enjoyed the air conditioning in the visitor's centre after the walk and spent some extra time in the interpretive centre to cool off!
Tip #2: Start your activities in the gorge early in the day.
We needed reviving, so we headed to the Katherine Hot Springs late in the afternoon. It certainly wasn't refreshing, but it was deep and good fun. The current was strong and swimmers could drift from one area into the next. We held our breath and swam under a footbridge which freaked me out a bit.
Tip #3: The bottom swimming area was more accessible than the top. Walking the iron walkway between the two swimming areas with bare feet is very uncomfortable - get someone to do a shoe run!
The Katherine Low Level Conservation Reserve was pretty and had nice picnic facilities. We spent some time watching the local bird life here. It is inaccessible over much of the wet season but it was lovely when we visited in the dry.
Students at Katherine School of the Air were finishing their school terms on the day of our visit. Watching the kids interact using internet technologies was amazing.
A staff member showed us around the facilities, and explained how they managed distance education. We saw the library, resource rooms, and "class rooms". In many ways it looked like a regular school.
Tip #4: This was one of the most interesting tours we did over the entire holiday. Travellers should not miss visiting this one. Tour times are Monday - Friday, 9am and 1pm.