Drift weightlessly in the perfectly clear, thermal water pool at Katherine Hot Springs. The spring water is a constant 25-30 degrees Celsius, the ideal temperature for a relaxing spa. Lush native plants shade the edges of this natural pool, providing a retreat from the heat of the sun.
Get a fresh start to the day with an energising dip in the pools, let the healing waters of Katherine Hot Springs rejuvenate you, after a day of unforgettable adventures through the nearby Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park.
1. Katherine Hot Springs
Nestled into the banks of the Katherine River, barely 5 minutes from Katherine town, in the Northern Territory’s Top End, we found the clearest natural pool… ever!
In the past, Katherine Springs was just a small pool in the banks of the Katherine River, but now thankfully, the area has been developed into a series of beautiful thermal spring water-fed pools.
Open 7am to 7pm daily, stay at the local campsite called Riverview Tourist Village, which is a short walk away from the hot springs. Take the pathway to the right, which will lead you to the source of the springs, and the warmest water.
It is well worth the walk from the top pool, through the middle, to the small waterfall at the bottom pool – six pools in all. For those keen to maintain fitness, there’s even a pool long enough to do laps in! Or those looking to relax can drift down with a floatie letting the waterfall push you along.
If you are an adventure junkie and into scuba diving, then you might like to know that there is an underwater cave to explore at the source of the Katherine Hot Springs! The maximum depth of the cave is 11 metres, but beware, as a very strong water flow comes from the caves. You will need to contact Katherine Town Council for access.
Katherine Hot Springs are open year round with consistent water temperature (but potential restrictions to access during the Wet Season). They are referred to as “hot springs”, but on a hot day they actually feel cool and refreshing!
2. Scenic Walks
Raised walking platforms allow access to view the waterfall of geothermal water which feeds the pools, so the beauty of the area is available to all ages and levels of fitness.
Explore the stream from the source itself, as it gently winds toward the Katherine River. If you look and listen carefully, you will also be treated to sightings of some of the unique and rare birdlife that inhabits the area.
The walking trails provide access not only to the swimming pools and waterfall, but also give a glimpse into the native habitat that surrounds Katherine Hot Springs.
3. Katherine River
The hot springs lead to the Katherine River, where nearby activities include fishing and canoeing. After a reviving dip, some might find the lure of venturing to the mighty Katherine itself difficult to resist.
Grab a fishing rod and head to the Katherine Low Level Nature Reserve – only a 3 minute stroll on sealed walkway out the back gate of the caravan park. This area is popular with visitors and locals alike early in “The Dry” – from April to June – as the wet season waters run off, for catching the Top End fishing icon, the elusive barramundi.
During The Dry Season, the relatively shallow waters become a well-used swimming area – but check before taking a dip, as you never know where a crocodile or even a shark might turn up!
Why not make a day of it?
Pack a picnic and take a break between activities to stretch out and enjoy the surprising warmth of a “winter’s day” in northern Australia.
Fresh green grass cooled by the shade of tall paperbarks – the perfect place to spread out a rug and even take a sneaky nap – we sure did!
Handy picnic tables and nearby toilets make it an easy place to spend the day.
5. Pop into the Pop Rocket
Who would think that a shipping container would be “the place to meet”, but ask a visitor or local for a coffee or brunch recommendation, then this unique little café on the banks of the Katherine River and right next to the Hot Springs will be on the tip of their tongue.
The Pop Rocket Café is housed in an up-cycled container, serving a contemporary menu with a “troppo outback attitude” during the Dry Season, from April each year. With a location so close to the town itself, access to parking and toilets, not to mention a great spot for swimming on it’s doorstep, it’s no surprise this little café is a favourite.
- Weekdays & early mornings are less busy, and you might get the opportunity to “float in solitude”.
- Pack a picnic and bring a floatie – the water temp is comfortable enough to swim around in for hours.
- Dry season can be very busy, so it is wise to book a spot at the caravan park well before you arrive.
You might be taking an easy day around the Katherine township, or perhaps a full day hiking further afield. Whether you need a refreshing start to the day, or a quiet therapeutic soak, Katherine Hot Springs needs to go on your Top End bucket list.
These natural thermal springs, located within the town of Katherine itself, are a great place for a few days break, and the perfect jumping point to explore so many of the nearby iconic attractions in this part of the Northern Territory.
How to get there
Just over three hours drive south of the Northern Territory capital of Darwin means you can be in Katherine for a lunchtime dip! There is a sealed pathway from the parking lot to the main pool, so it’s only a 10 minute, easy walk.
Where to stay
The Riverview Tourist Village is a caravan park located on the banks of the Katherine River, within minutes of the Katherine township. It is perfectly situated right alongside the Hot Springs with a choice of accommodation ranging from unpowered campsites through to motel units and cabins.
Best time to go
As with much of the Northern Territory of Australia, and particularly the tropical Top End, May through to September is generally the best time to visit. Skies are generally clear, and daytime temperatures are at their most comfortable.
Why is Katherine Hot Springs closed?
During the Wet Season, water levels rise through the Top End of the Northern Territory, sometimes flooding the natural thermal springs with riverwater… check with Katherine Hot Springs Visitors Centre for up-to-date information on the status of the pools.
Are there crocs in Katherine Hot Springs
The pools are generally safe for swimming, with upper and lower pools open during the Dry Season, but at the end of the Wet Season (around April), local Park Rangers set traps in all major waterholes and swimming areas just in case there are any stray saltwater crocodiles.
Can you swim in Katherine Hot Springs?
The Hot Springs are a safe place to swim during the Dry Season with access available for all abilities. There are times during the Wet Season, when the pools may have to close due to high river levels.