In our armchair travels leaving Western Australia we arrive in the Northern Territory. The area has the most dramatic nature all around and you can find many places to explore and many things to see. Our first stop is the town of Katherine which is the fourth largest town in the Northern Territory. The Katharine River flows through the town. This is a most friendly environment and a fantastic place for families. It has a real small town feel.
Lots of people travel to Katherine for work and enjoy it so much they make it their home. There is a lot to do and see if you’re visiting and one of the main tourist attractions is Nitmiluk National Park. Also popular are The Katherine Hot Springs and Mataranka Thermal Springs. Edith Falls is a part of the national park and is a popular place for both residents and visitors to have picnics and barbecues and to go hiking and swimming.
There will never be a dull moment since the residents of Katherine love to party. Every year there is the annual Katherine Festival in August, the Katherine Country Music Muster in May and in July the Katherine Show attracts many people. There is even an annual debutante ball and other minor events for residents and the town held its first Fringe Festival in June 2011.
While in Katherine if you love to participate in sport you’ll be glad to know that sport is a popular pastime. You can take a look at all the sports you can participate in at the air-conditioned multi-purpose Henry Scott Recreation Center. Other locations for activity are the Katherine Motor Sports Club and the Katherine Country Golf Club where you can enjoy golf, lawn bowling and netball.
The Katherine Museum offers photo displays that show the history of this region. Just out of town is Springvale Homestead, the oldest original homestead in the Northern Territory. Nearby are the amazing Cutta Cutta Caves, a series of limestone crystal caverns and pillars dating back 500 million years.
You’ll experience an amazing adventure at Nitmiluk National Park with its world-renowned gorge system. Here you can hike, swim, canoe, boat or even fly. Visitors can take a walk over the sandstone plateau range offering impressive views of the gorge. There are many spectacular landscapes such as the monsoon rain forest, stone country, upland swamp, woodland and river. Canoes are for hire at the gorge and there are helicopter flights available for bird’s eye views.
If you’re looking for some unusual adventure take the 58 kilometer Jatbula Trail which features amazing scenery, waterfalls and Jawoyn Aboriginal rock art. The trail is a four to five day hike and is marked only in one direction from Katherine Gorge (Nitmiluk Visitor Center) to Leliyn/Edith Falls. It is not the easiest walk but it is well worth it to see all the wonderful nature all around. On the first day you can get ferry service across the Katherine River. Before you set off you must register at the visitor center.
Today Aboriginal art is at high prices and collections can be seen in galleries all over the world. You can get a chance to view some of this artwork at Katherine’s art galleries. At the Ghunmarn Cultural Center in the Aboriginal community of Beswick there is a range of artwork, jewellery and artifacts. They also have a permanent collection of culturally and historically important work on display.
Artwork from this center is also on display at the Djilpin Art Gallery in Katherine. They have artwork by local Jawoyn, Warlpiri and Dagoman Aboriginal artists as well as artwork from Arnhem Land, the Central Western Desert and areas in Western Australia. Lots of didgeridoos, artifacts and paintings are created on the premises and sold and sent to clients all around the globe.
Mimi Aboriginal Arts and Crafts is an Aboriginal owned and operated art gallery. It offers a wide range of traditional and contemporary art styles. This is also a supportive place for local artists who can interact and tell stories of their history and heritage to visitors. Fifty percent of the revenue from artworks goes to the artists and the remaining proceeds to run the art center.
Take the time to explore the magnificent World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park. This is Australia’s biggest national park. It offers visitors rugged escarpments, lush rain forest and rock art galleries that are up to 50,000 years old. You can learn about the Aboriginal culture from the traditional owners the Bininj/Mungguy people. There are millions of migratory birds among the wetlands. You can see delicate water lilies and prehistoric crocodiles, waterfalls and sparkling water holes.
Some of the wildlife found in the Northern Territory:
Tennant Creek is the major service center for the Barkly Region and is also the regional service hub for the huge pastoral stations which produce premium beef cattle on vast grasslands. At one time people came here to search for gold. Today mining companies still produce gold, copper, and manganese.
The people here are real proud of their town and offer their friendship to visitors. They enjoy a relaxed lifestyle with modern facilities like sporting grounds, recreation reserves, art and craft galleries, a civic hall and library. Indigenous people are an important part of this community. Renowned local artists create traditional paintings, carvings and other crafts. These are all sold at the art galleries in town.
For both residents and visitors a popular place for swimming, barbecues, picnics and bush walks is Mary Ann Dam.
Visitors can go on a guided tour of the Nyinkka Nyunyu Art and Culture Center. Out in the gardens you can learn about bush tucker and traditional medicines. There is a place to get some coffee and at the shop you can purchase local artwork, crafts and books.
Of interest is the Battery Hill Mining Center displaying working examples of machinery that was once used in the early years of the mining industry. Visitors can get an idea of life during the 1930s gold rush. There are two museums and you can take an underground mine tour. Everyone has the chance to fossick for and keep the gold.
If you are a horse lover head on over to Kelly’s Ranch and saddle up. You can ride the Barkly Tablelands around Tennant Creek.
Located in the Top End of the Northern Territory by the Arafura Sea is Nhulunbuy on the Gove Peninsula, southeast of Arnhem Land. This is a most remote area. Its name means “honey man” in Yolngu language. It’s also known as Gove. Europeans named the Gove Peninsula after Pilot Officer William Gove who died in WW II.
Nhulunbuy is great for outdoor lovers. Here you can enjoy fishing, sailing, bird watching and 4-wheel drive outings. There are wonderful beaches and wilderness areas. The town has educational, health, social, sporting, cultural and shopping facilities.
Among the attractions here are the Yirrkala Arts and Crafts Museum, Nambara Arts and Crafts Center and the annual Garma Festival giving visitors and insight into the traditional and cultural life of the Yolngu people.