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Wonders Of Katherine
 
katherine gorgeAlthough Katherine is most commonly known for its majestic Katherine Gorge, it is actually the third largest city in the Northern Territory. The region's unbelievable beauty draws in tourists, allowing it to act as a great base for travel to the attractions further out, especially by campervan. You can travel up north to the Adelaide River and on to Darwin, or down to Mataranka, with endless miles of sunburnt country in between.

The majestic cliffs would have to be the most entrancing aspects of the gorge, which is located in the Nitmiluk National Park. These cliffs soar to the sky as you glide along in the river below. Depending on what time of year you visit, the gorges can take between two to five hours to cross. The more extreme adventurers carry their canoes between gorges as the water drops so there is only a rock crevice in between. Another option for exploration of the gorge is to jump on one of the helicopter flights which is more expensive but the views are hard to describe. This option guarantees that you will see the gorge from a completely different and unique perspective.

The Gorge is where you will find most tourists in the area, simply because they are attracted by the spectacular sights and scenery. Try to avoid visiting between November and March as the waters rise rapidly and it can become quite dangerous. Be sure to bring your bathers as swimming is permitted at the gorge, giving you the chance to enjoy a the cool, refreshing river waters, while surrounded by some of Australia’s most captivating scenery.

What will probably surprise you the most here is the vastness of the entire gorge system. It is an oasis that remains practically untouched by civilisation and outside forces. The boat cruise up the river is worth taking especially since you have made such an effort to get this far. Make sure you don't forget your camera to capture the views.

Several walking trails also stretch through the park, each offering magnificent views of the raw natural beaity. Some take five days to complete, and there are also camping sites along the trails for those who wish to take their time. Not far from the entrance to Katherine Gorge is a road which will take you to Edith Falls. Make sure you visit here to experience the pool surrounded by pandanus plants which will be a refreshing end or beginning to your experience at Katherine. There are a number of walking trails in the park which are for all levels of fitness, offering some beautiful views.

South of Katherine you will find the Cutta Cutta caves. Be sure to put this attraction on your ‘must see’ list as they are not only close enough to visit but feature a ‘Tropical Wonderland’ walk that you simply must embark on. These limestone caves are incredible, with the unique Orange Horseshoe Bats an added bonus. Another well known natural attraction are the Katherine Hot Springs. It is easy to find because all you have to do is look for anything that resembles an oasis. A winding walk through luscious palms will bring you to crystal clear steaming pools, which stretch long enough to give you some room to yourself to enjoy the wonderful therapeutic waters.

Your experience of these springs can be summed up in one word: heavenly. It is a place everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime to indulge in the ultimate spa, sauna and pool in one. Make sure you visit this unique part of the territory even if it is to dip your feet in the pools and enjoy the steam.

Closer to the town of Katherine, there is still plenty to do. Head to the Katherine Museum to learn more about the aviation and war history of the region, especially since it is housed in the old aerodrome buildings. Spend an afternoon at the Springvale Homestead, which is regarded as the most ancient original homestead in the Territory. There is a café and barbeque facilities, plus a photo gallery covering the history of the area.

Katherine is remarkably untouched and is an enjoyable town to visit. There is unique diversity here, with past and present mixing to bring a rich cultural insight into the area. Plan to stay a while to enjoy the freedom your campervan brings you and prepare for long stretches of outback landscape without a glimpse of humanity. The perfect escape holiday.

Christine Barton




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