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Camping around Katherine

Set up camp in big river country and spend your days near sparkling waterholes, majestic waterfalls and thick woodlands full of wildlife. It doesn’t get better than camping in Katherine.

Katherine is a region with an extensive range of camping experiences spanning from established campgrounds to remote national parks. Whether you prefer sleeping in cabins or caravans or dossing down in a swag, Katherine has options to suit every taste and level of comfort.

For those who enjoy a bit of a trek, there are plenty of opportunities to tie this into your camping trip. Reach your campsite by 4WD'ing or camping and walking across striking terrain, or canoeing and cruising along the regions Katherine Gorge.

If you're new to camping, you might like to consider a guided tour. Experienced tour guides know all the best spots and they're all pretty handy around a campfire too. Many guided tours include cultural experiences and knowledge for you to enjoy so you can truly appreciate the sacred ground you're staying on.

While you're out in the fresh air, get amidst the incredible natural habitat. Watch for turtles at Sweetwater Pool. The Flora River Nature Park is rich in wildlife as well as featuring magnificent tufa rock formations, waterfalls, large natural springs, and Casuarina trees. Dramatic Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge brims with wallabies, water monitors, eagles and cockatoos.

Best time to go camping in Katherine

The best time to go camping around Katherine is in the dry season between May and September when the humidity drops. The nights can be cool and there’s almost never rain. It gets really popular in campgrounds during the dry season so if you can, you should book your site before your trip.

During the build-up (October to January) and the tropical summer/wet season (January to April), it’s best to camp if you’ve got shelter as it can be warmer with heavy rainfall. It’s a great time of year to see waterfalls in full flow but not always ideal for camping.

Can I camp for free in Katherine?

Just like the rest of the Territory, camping isn't allowed anywhere but in designated camping spots. This includes camping on the side of the road outside of approved areas.

There's some free campsites, but it's expected that you’ll be self-sufficient, keep the area clean and tidy and take your rubbish away with you.

Kame’s Campground

Just off the Stuart Highway at the turn-off to Edith Falls Road is Kame’s Campground. There's no facilities here so you'll need to have all your supplies with you. It’s only a 15-minute drive from Katherine where you can get everything you need.

It’s flat and quiet, but there can be quite a few bugs so keep lights to a minimum, use your flyscreens and think about bringing a personal bug spray.

King River South Rest Area

About half an hour south of Katherine is the King River South Rest Area. It’s free to camp here and there's toilets, a water supply (not for filling caravan tanks), picnic shelters and rubbish bins.

The campground is close to the highway so it might get a little noisy.

Sterling Mill Rest Area

South of Katherine and across the highway from Mataranka Station is the Sterling Mill Rest Area. It's a small campground located just off the Stuart Highway. The entrance is on a tree lined dirt track so keep your eyes peeled to make sure you don’t miss it.

The campground is small, able to accommodate up to six caravans, and there’s no toilets so you’ll have to take care of your waste appropriately. There's some truck noise from the highway and it can be dusty. Otherwise, it’s a good spot to stay the night if you’re self-sufficient.

Are permits required to camp in Katherine?

Most parks and reserves across the Top End are free to enter and have designated campsites where you can camp for a minimal fee without a permit. If you're planning to camp in a national park outside of a designated campsite or bushwalk overnight, you'll need to apply for a permit.

If you're entering onto Aboriginal land that isn't within a national park, you'll need a written permit from the Northern Land Council. These are approved on a case-by-case basis and cover activities such as entering Aboriginal land or waters for any purpose, travelling by private road on Aboriginal land or entering an Aboriginal community.

Camping under the stars in Katherine

If you’d like to camp in the open air and watch the stars, it’s best to do that between May and September. That’s when it’s coolest and least likely to rain. Outside of these times, it can be hot and humid and can rain heavily so it’s best to have good shelter.

Camping near swimming holes in Katherine

Camping near safe swimming holes is a great way to relax in the Katherine region.

Most waterholes are off limits to swimmers due to crocodiles so look out for the signs and be Crocwise. Any body of water – including creeks and freshwater dams – can have crocodiles so play it safe and stick to approved swimming areas.

Bitter Springs cabins & camping

Just a short walk from the beautiful Bitter Springs is the Bitter Springs Cabins and Camping spot. It's a pet-friendly and peaceful caravan park where you can choose your own campsite.

Powered and unpowered sites are available from $30 per night with bore water on tap, toilets, showers, camp kitchen and laundry facilities. Campfires are allowed in the riverside unpowered campgrounds but no generators are permitted.

If you want something a little more comfortable, cabins are available on-site from $130 per night. There’s plenty to do with wallabies and birds visiting regularly and good fishing in the river. Grab your pool noodle and goggles and head to Bitter Springs for a dip. You can also hire your gear from the campground.

Territory Manor Motel & Caravan Park

Territory Manor is just a three-minute drive to Bitter Springs. It offers a range of powered and unpowered sites from $14 per night, as well as motel accommodation.

There’s a swimming pool and spa, campground kitchen and bathroom facilities, as well as an undercover licensed restaurant and information kiosk. The restaurant itself serves breakfast, lunch and dinner six days a week so make sure to drop by for a bite. If you're looking for something to unwind, try the bird watching and Barramundi feeding activities that are available to you. The campground is also pet-friendly, so feel free to invite the family dog.

Mataranka Homestead

A few minutes’ walk from the Mataranka Thermal Springs is the Mataranka Homestead. Located in Elsey National Park, the site is a well serviced campground.

With more than 160 powered sites and unlimited unpowered sites in different areas across the property, you can camp the way you like from just $30 per night. No bookings are taken for powered and unpowered sites so it’s first in, best dressed. However there’s heaps of spaces available so don’t worry. Self-contained cabins and motel rooms are also available.

There’s a large reception area, ablution blocks, laundry and designated bin areas. The campground is pet-friendly for one animal per site as long as they are restrained on a leash. The on-site kitchen is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with the bar serving icy cold beer. Regular live music and entertainment as well as roaming peacocks makes this a unique base for your Katherine adventure.

Little Roper Stockcamp

Just a stone’s throw from the Mataranka Thermal Pools, Little Roper Stockcamp offers powered and unpowered campsites as well as moonlight swags with all bedding supplied. Unpowered sites start at $30 for two adults; powered sites at $35 for two adults. Moonlight swags are $35 for a single and $50 for a double. Phone bookings only.

There's an amenities block on-site with coin-operated laundry alongside a BBQ, communal fire and dinner table. Camp oven dinners, stew and curry nights are held regularly. There’s plenty to do on-site with stockcamp shows and interactive animal experiences that get you up close with buffalos, brahman cattle, reptiles and other animals.

Camping & fishing around Katherine

Fishing in Katherine is by far one of the most unmatched experiences in the NT. Before you set out from your campsite, there's some rules you must abide by. To learn more about the regulations for recreational fishing, download the free Northern Territory Fishing Mate app. Remember, no fishing is allowed at any of the swimming holes.

It’s essential that if you’re fishing, you're Crocwise. Crocodiles are ambush predators so it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and follow all signage and safety tips.

Elsey National Park

Within Elsey National Park, there's excellent fishing at Roper River, 4 Mile and 12 Mile – each with boat ramps available. Traps, nets, spears and swimming are prohibited here. During the wet season, roads can be cut off so make sure you check if the park and campground are open before setting off.

The closest campground to these spots is the Jalmurark Campground. Non-powered sites are available from $6.60 per person per night; generators aren’t allowed. Facilities available include toilets, showers, BBQs, rubbish bins, fire pits, non-drinking bore water and picnic areas. Pets are not permitted.

There's heaps to do here including exploring the historical ruins of the Territory’s rich pastoral and wartime history.

Nitmiluk National Park

Nitmiluk National Park – the home of the famous Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge – is a great spot for fishing. Fishing is permitted only in the first gorge with a permit and with seasonal restrictions in place. You must not fish in the Second Gorge as it’s a sacred site. The jetty and boat ramp at Nitmiluk Gorge are also prohibited.

Nitmiluk Campground is just a 10-minute walk from where you can take a gorge boat tour. The campground offers both powered and unpowered sites from $17 per person per night. Facilities include two serviced amenities blocks, self-service laundry, swimming pool, BBQs, outdoor kitchens and an on-site restaurant open during the dry season.

Just a short distance away is the Nitmiluk Café at the Nitmiluk Visitors Centre where you can grab a cool drink, a bite to eat and plan your day.

Limmen National Park & Limmen Bight Marine Park

From the Limmen National Park you have access to fishing on the Roper River, Towns River, Limmen River and Cox River with no permits needed. You'll need a 4WD to get to these spots during the dry season as the roads are often closed during the wet.

You can camp at a number of spots but your best bet is Munbililla (Tomato Island). For $6.60 per person per night, you can grab an unpowered site and run your generator in the permitted area. Toilets, hot showers, gas BBQs, drinking water, picnic tables, bins and a dump point are all there at your disposal.

There's plenty of natural attractions to explore including the sandstone formations, wetlands and the nearby Western Lost City.

Giwining/Flora River Nature Park

Seasonally accessible, Giwining has excellent fishing for those looking for grunter, bream and barramundi. Fish from the river banks at Djarrung Falls, Kathleen Falls and across from the boat ramp for your best chance at catching dinner. Fishing must only be done with lures to avoid catching turtles. No swimming, canoeing or small boats are allowed in this area as there's a high crocodile population here. Remember to be Crocwise.

Lornngurl Campground is just $6.60 per night and offers toilets, showers, drinking water and wood BBQs. Picnic tables are located nearby as well for scenic walks. The area is accessible on unsealed roads open to 2WDs, however these are often closed during the wet season.

Judbarra/Gregory National Park

You can’t beat fishing from the river banks of Big Horse Creek, Old Victoria River Crossing, East Baines River at Limestone Creek, Drovers Rest and along Humbert and Wickham Rivers in the Judbarra/Gregory National Park. There's no motorised watercraft allowed on Wickham River due to its significant cultural and natural value. Fishing without lures is prohibited to prevent turtles and other local wildlife from being harmed.

Big Horse Creek Campground, Bullita Homestead and Campground and Sullivan Creek Campground are open seasonally to high clearance 4WDs. Camping fees are $3.30 per person per night. These campsites, each have toilets, wood BBQs and picnic tables with Big Horse Creek also offering limited fresh water.

Daly River region

The Daly River region is famous for its incredible fishing and the many well-known and hidden spots where you can snag your next catch. The area is also serviced by a number of privately-owned campgrounds.

From as little as $30 per person per night, you can access a powered site at any of these incredible locations:

Each of these sites has bathroom facilities and access to the some amazing fishing spots. If you chat to the locals, you might even get a good tip.

Canoeing and camping in Katherine

If paddling along streams and rivers is a hobby of yours, try canoeing through Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge and stay the night at the 4th, 6th or 9th gorge camping sites. All are accessible via canoe and the journey there is sure to be an adventure you won't forget.

Availability can run out fast, so to avoid disappointment make sure to book your campsite online first, then hire your canoe. This adventure requires a level of fitness as you'll have to carry your canoes over the rocks between gorges. Permits can be obtained by contacting Parks and Wildlife. For any other general enquiries before you start your journey, contact the Nitmiluk Visitor Centre.

Hiking and camping in Katherine

Hikers tackling the Jatbula Trail in Nitmiluk National Park have ample opportunity to stop for the night in places not seen by most. Idyllic spots such as the stunning Biddlecombe Cascades and Crystal Falls are an easy distance from campsites. Sandy Camp pool offers a peaceful and shady spot beside a billabong, perfect for cooling off with a swim, or cool off mid-way at 17 Mile Falls surrounded by the sandstone plateau. This hike has a 5 or 6 day option and is usually in very high demand so make sure you book your spot on the Jatbula Trail well in advance.

The Jatbula Trail is a 62 kilometre one way walk that follows a route traditionally travelled by the Jawoyn people. Ensure that you check it's availability and book before departing so that you can have the chance to experience the natural beauty of the Katherine region.

The Southern Walking Trails are made up of a network of paths in Nitmiluk National Park. Starting off from the Nitmiluk National Park Visitor Centre, you’ll soon be rewarded with spectacular views and secluded swimming and camping spots. Those interested in an overnight stay can camp at the Dunlop Swamp or Smitt Rock campsites. Check their availability before booking and obtain your permit through contacting Parks and Wildlife.

The rocky terrain of both the Jatbula and Southern Walking Trails calls for visitors with a moderate to high level of hiking experience.

Camping in national parks around Katherine

If fishing isn’t your highest priority, then there's plenty of other camping spots within the national parks of the Katherine region.

Nitmiluk National Park

Nitmiluk National Park is famous for its tall sandstone escarpments, beautiful natural swimming holes and rich aboriginal history. Just minutes from the gorge are powered and unpowered camping sites available for caravans and tents. It's best to camp here from May through to September where the Top End heat cools.

Edith Falls

Leliyn (Edith Falls) is a set of stunning cascading waterfalls with a large pool at the base perfect for swimming. It’s a lush area with beautiful native flora and fauna just 40 minutes’ drive from Katherine and accessible to cars on a completely sealed road. No permit is required.

The camping site is a beautifully maintained landscaped space that is only 150 metres from the plunge pool. Unpowered sites are available for $3.30 per person per night which gives you access to toilets, showers, gas BBQs, picnic tables and a kiosk with knowledgeable staff to help you figure out what to do.

Sweetwater Pool

One of the lesser-known campgrounds, Sweetwater Pool is the final stop on the Jatbula Trail. It’s perfect for cooling off after a long hike.

The campground is accessible from the car park at Edith Falls by foot only. For $3.30 per person per night, there's toilets and drinking water available. Permits are required and spots are reserved for those walking the Jatbula Trail so availability needs to be confirmed before you head off.

Umbrawarra Gorge National Park

Almost a three hours’ drive from Darwin and just over an hour's drive from Katherine, Umbrawarra Gorge National Park is off the beaten track but is well worth the drive. The road is accessible by car during the dry season but it isn't recommended for caravans due to road corrugations, dips and creek crossings.

Camping is available at the designated campsite for $3.30 per person per night. This comes with a composting toilet, BBQs, picnic area, fire pits and a range of 4WD tracks. No generators or pets are permitted.

From the campsite, you can take an easy walk along the creek into the red cliffs and sandstone overhangs of the gorge to take a swim where it's signposted as safe to do so.

Douglas River/Daly River Esplanade Conservation Area

The Douglas River/Daly River Esplanade Conservation Area is the perfect spot to camp if you love bird and wildlife spotting. The area is rich with riverine habitats, cascades and sandy river banks. It's also home to lots of crocodiles so it’s important to follow the signs and continue to be Crocwise.

There's 9 campsites in the conservation area – 7 are accessible by car and 2 are 4WD accessible only. Caravans are not recommended but off-road trailers may be suitable. Unpowered sites are available from $15 per family and bookings are made through the Douglas Daly Holiday Park.

Facilities include toilets, drinking water, showers, fire pits and picnic tables. Generators are welcome in specific areas. Given the natural habitats, mosquitoes and midgies are common at dusk so pack insect repellent.

Serviced campgrounds around Katherine

If you’d prefer a serviced campground in or close to Katherine township, there's a number of options available:

All serviced campgrounds have on-site facilities, accessible by sealed road and are within a 20 minute drive of the centre of Katherine.

Camping at events in Katherine

There's lots of great events on in Katherine where camping would be a great accommodation option. Freedom Day, Katherine Regional Arts Junk Fest, Katherine Speedway events, Godinymayin Yijard River Arts and Culture Centre events, Katherine Show and Rodeo, Katherine Turf Club Racing, Barunga Festival and the NT Travelling Film Festival are the big events held throughout the year.

For the fishers amongst us, the Allure Ladies Fishing Classic Competition, Million Dollar Fish, Girls Gone Fishin’, Big Horse Creek Barra Classic and the Barra Nationals are all held in the Katherine region and competitors are encouraged to camp.

Camping near Katherine – at a glance

Powered sites

Permit required

Accessibility

Toilets

Drinking Water

BBQs

Other accommodation on site

Katherine Holiday Park

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, Safari Glamping Tents, Cabins, Bunkhouse

Boab Caravan Park

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, boutique cabins, family cabins

Knotts Crossing

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, Executive rooms, Deluxe rooms, Executive unit, family rooms, motel room, cabins

Riverview Tourist Village

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, family ensuite cabins, ensuite cabins, standard cabins, motel units

Manbulloo Homestead

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, cabins, deluxe cabins, two bedroom cabins, motel, group accommodation

Shady Lane Tourist Park

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, wheelchair accessible cabin for 2 people, budget motel rooms, ground level studio, ground level 2 bedroom cabin, elevated studio, elevated 1 bedroom, elevated 2 bedroom.

Katherine Gorge / Nitmiluk Campground

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, unpowered comfortably clean permanent safari tents with their own fire pit, 1 and 2 bedroom cabins, luxury rooms at Cicada Lodge

Leliyn (Edith Falls)

No

No

2WD

Yes

Yes but bringing your own is recommended and treat all drinking water from natural sources.

Yes

No

Sweetwater Pool

No

Yes

2WD sealed road, walking access only

Yes

Yes

No

No

Crystal Falls

No

Yes

2WD sealed road, walking access only

Yes

Yes

No

No

Jalmurark Campground - 12 mile yards

No

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Lorella Springs

Yes

No

4WD strongly encouraged

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, deluxe bedrooms, ensuite cabins,

Southern Lost City

No

No

4WD strongly encouraged

Yes

No

Yes

No

Butterfly Falls

No

No

4WD strongly encouraged

Yes

No

Yes

No

Towns River

No

No

4WD strongly encouraged

Yes

No

Yes

No

Limmen River

No

No

4WD strongly encouraged

Yes

No

Yes

No

Big Horse Creek

No

No

Generally accessible 2WD in dry season only

Yes

Limited

Yes

No

Sullivan Creek

No

No

Generally accessible 2WD in dry season only

Yes

No

Yes

No

Bullita Homestead and Campground

No

No

4WD with high clearance recommended and access is unsuitable for caravans

Yes

No

Yes

No

Douglas River/Daly River Esplanade Conservation Area

Yes

No

4WD recommended as 7 campsites are 2WD and 2 campsites are 4WD only.

No

No

No

Yes, Douglas Daly Holiday Park has 2 bedroom family cabins, single rooms, family rooms, twin rooms, campgrounds with water and all amenities.

Lee and Jenny's Bush Camp

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, cabins, bunkhouse, barra-barn cottage, buffalo lodge with ensuite

Daly River Wildlife and Adventure Lodge

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, cabins, dongas, house, high rise cabin, screened cabin, house with a view

Perry's on the Daly

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, cabins

Woolianna on the Daly

Yes

No

2WD

yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, fisherman's lodge, villa units

Daly River Barra Resort

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, self contained units

Daly River Roadside Inn

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, ensuite dongas, ensuite motel rooms, ensuite family/single/double rooms, fisherman huts

Banyan Farm Tourist Park

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, cabins

Giwining / Flora River Nature Park

No

No

Unsealed roads high clearance 2WD accessible, but roads may be closed during wet season. Check road conditions.

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

King Ash Bay Fishing Club

Yes

No

4WD only in wet season, dry season can be accessed by 2WD. 24 km corrugated dirt road driving from bitumen to King Ash Bay Fishing Club.

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, cabins, houseboats

Barranyi National Park (North Island)

No

No

Boat access only

Yes

No

Yes

No

Munbililla (Tomato Island)

No

No

All roads within park are unsealed and can be closed due to seasonal flooding from November to May.

Yes

Yes

No

No

McArthur River Caravan Park

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, self contained budget units, self contained 2 bedroom deluxe unit

Hire camping equipment for Katherine

If you don’t have your own equipment, you can hire what you need or get a complete camping package from Gone Bush Camping based in Darwin. Their packages cover everything from basic supplies for your hire car through to the full kit for a motorhome or 4WD experience.

Outback and Beyond Camper Trailers, located in Howard Springs, hire reliable Challenge camper trailers which are built in South Australia and can handle the toughest bush tracks in the Territory. Basic supplies or some little luxuries can be included in the trailer.

If you’d like to take a boat for a spin, you can hire boats from Outback Boat Hire located in Marrakai.

Join a camping tour in Katherine

With so many camping spots to choose from, it might seem like an impossible decision. If you want to take all the thought out of it, a guided camping tour is the perfect solution.

Gecko Canoeing and Trekking

The 3 Rivers 6 days of bliss tour is a 6 day wilderness safari beginning downstream from the crowded areas of Nitmiluk National Park. Venture through the best sections of the Katherine and Daly Rivers and privately camp on some magnificent sandy beaches.

If you don't feel like kayaking, try out the 5 day cultural beyond the Gorge (Manyallaluk to Gorge) Trail. In this trip, a knowledgeable NT Immersions Guide will walk you through a traditional hunting trail used by the Jawoyn people. The track has no public campgrounds so you wont see any other people along the highland escarpment and river country. Revel at the amazing scenery, wildlife and ancient rock art with each remote camp spot having its own water source.

The Jatbula Plus itinerary is comprised of a fully guided 6-day tour that gives you the time to discover the cultural significance of Nitmiluk Gorge and the Jatbula Trail. You can also take an optional gorge cruise when you first arrive in Katherine to get the full experience. Each day you will sleep in a remote and private campsite that will give you a chance to relax, swim, bird watch, encounter wildlife and appreciate the picturesque scenery.

Camping guidelines

The Katherine region is stunning and we’d love it to stay that way. When camping, make sure you leave your site as clean as you found it.

Rubbish

Make use of the bins provided at your campsite. If there's none, take the rubbish with you and find a roadside stop or shelter with bins provided. There are no rubbish bins situated along the Jatbula Trail.

Firewood

Fires are not permitted to be lit in any Northern Territory national park and each campground has specific rules about the lighting of fires. Camp fires can only be lit during the cooler months and must be contained within designated areas where fire pits are available.

Firewood from outside a national park should not be brought into the park due to bio-security risks.

Firewood must also not be collected from inside the national park. Purchasing wood from hardware stores or camping supply stores in Darwin or Katherine is permitted.

Pets

Pets are not allowed in national parks. Exemptions are available for guide dogs, hearing dogs and assistance dogs kept on a leash of no more than three-metres long.

Each individual campsite outside of national parks have their own rules about pets. If pets are permitted, be a responsible pet owner and don't leave your dog on their own in a campground. If you're going to be out of the campground for any length of time, you can negotiate with a fellow camper to swap dog-minding duties.

Road safety

If you’re driving, make sure you understand the challenges of driving in remote locations. Get some road safety tips to help you stay safe on our roads.

Camping around Katherine