Katherine is the third largest regional centre and is a popular tourist destination. Beef, mining and horticulture are the other main industries.
The Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park of 180,000 hectares is one of the Northern Territory’s natural wonders. There are 13 gorges carved out of sandstone rock which have evolved over millions of years.
Bushwalking and photography are popular pursuits. Rugged scenery, an abundance of birdlife, animals, fish and fresh water crocodiles may be seen- there are more than 100 kms of walking trails. Guide leaflets are available from the Visitors Centre.
History of the Area
On route to Port Essington in 1844, Ludwig Liechhardt was the first European to pass through the area. It was the land of the Jawoyn and Dagoman Aboriginal people who enjoyed a lifestyle with abundant food near the river.
On his epic journey in 1862, John McDouall Stuart named the river Katherine after the second daughter of his friend and expeditions sponsor James Chambers. He was impressed with the lushness of the area.
Alfred Giles set up the Springvale Station in 1878, arriving with 12,000 sheep and 2,000 cattle.
The Katherine Museum has an excellent collection of early photographs and artifacts of the area.
The Katherine Floods
In January 1998 the biggest deluge in living memory swept down the Katherine River, flooding the town.
The flow of water would have been capable of filling-
Sydney Harbour in as little as 9 hours,
Manton Dam in as little as 15 minutes,
10 Olympic swimming pools every second.