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Wet season in Katherine

Wet season isn't all that bad. There are hardly any crowds and once the rains hit it, the days becomes quite temperate with regular rain showers cooling temperatures down to below 30 degrees. What a shock for the Territory! 

The local landscape turns a lush green with an abundance of waterfalls and waterholes. 

Unfortunately Katherine's Hot Springs, one of our major attractions, does become unswimmable as it is right next to the Katherine River, which rises. But here are the other options for swiming in Katherine's wet season.


Places to swim in wet season

Southern Rockhole at Nitmiluk National Park. Photo: Tourism NT/Steve Strike

Southern Rockhole

One of the reasons we love wet season is because Southern Rockhole, Katherine's impressive waterfall, starts flowing with water. It's about a six kilometre walk from the Nitmiluk Visitor Information Centre, but there is an option to take a ferry through Nitmiluk Tours. The ferry in 2023 is $17 each way and drops you off near the rockhole. You then walk up a rather rocky path, so go very slowly if you're not so sure on your feet.


Often water in the Territory gets a bit warm later in the year, and the best part about Southern Rockhole is that the water is a refreshingly cool, even on muggy days.


To check whether Southern Rockhole is open, click here.


To find out more about the ferries, click here.
 

Bitter Springs at Mataranka. Photo: @elsalassalle

Mataranka's Thermal Springs

The small town of Mataranka, just over an hour's drive south of Katherine, has two choices for thermal springs! Bitter Springs and the Mataranka Thermal Springs. Bitter Springs is the warmer of the two, and somewhat warmer than the Katherine Hot Springs. Mataranka has a pastoral history and is a welcome stop with tourers. The area was made famous by the novel We of the Never Never – a book written about nearby Elsey Station by Jeannie Gunn.


Mataranka Thermal Pool

Set amongst palms and tropical woodlands in Elsey National Park, these spring-fed thermal pools are an ideal place to relax.


Renowned for its sandy-bottomed thermal pool, the Mataranka Thermal Pool is slightly more built up than the Bitter Springs hot springs as it has rock walls and rock steps around the pools. Walk along a boardwalk, surrounded by cabbage tree palms that really make it feel like an oasis. Take a quick stop to admire the crystal clear Rainbow Pool (sacred site, no swimming), before enjoying these stunning pool.


Access to the start of the loop-walk is through the privately owned Mataranka Homestead resort, and day-use visitors should park their vehicles on the far side of the homestead resort and walk through to the park entrance.


Bitter Springs

The second of the two thermal pools in Elsey National Park is Bitter Springs. Warm all year round and swimming is incredible here. While there are steps into these springs, they have a more natural feel to them than the Mataranka Thermal Pool. They have a lazy river feel to them as you can float with the current downstream a while before hopping out and doing it again. 


We recommend going early while the weather is cooler. To get that perfect Instagram shot, wait until the sun is overhead and shining through the clear waters.


Park Open Status

These springs may close later in the wet season due to flooding.


To check their status, click here.

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