Outdoor activities, Northern Territory, Australia

Canoeing and kayaking

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Kayaking, Roper river, Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia

Take in the Northern Territory's gorgeous scenery on a leisurely kayak or canoe trip down one of its scenic rivers.

Katherine River

The most popular place for canoeing is the Katherine River, which flows through the Nitmiluk Gorge in the Nitmiluk National Park. Paddle slowly through forests of paperbark and pandanus and take in all its beauty, well away from civilisation.

Experienced kayakers can do the canoe trip along the Katherine River on their own as long they have all the necessary equipment and camping supplies. However, it's much easier to join an organised tour with several excellent operators leading guided multiday trips.

Tours usually head along the more secluded parts of the river that wind through bend after bend into the true wilderness. It's smooth paddling, but the occasional gentle rapid keeps things interesting. Drift past river banks lined with rocky escarpments, sandy beaches and attractive Melaleuca, as well as native fauna like wallabies and lake monitors.

There are hundreds of bird species in the area including eagles, kookaburras and cockatoos. Also keep your eyes peeled for the occasional small freshwater croc, which are harmless.

Most tour companies offer either three day trips that take you along a 55km stretch of the river, or six day journeys that follow a 130km westward journey to meet the Flora and Daly Rivers. Set up camp on sandy beaches with nearby billabongs for swimming or fishing and spend the nights by the campfire under a galaxy of stars.

Time to go

To maximize your chances of lovely sunny days and cool nights the best time to visit is from May to November. Other periods are not advisable due to rising water levels.


Darwin Harbour boasts one of the most scenic coastline's in the Top End which is ripe for exploration by paddling about in a sea kayak. While conditions are generally suited for all levels, if you're not experienced in the area it's best to make enquiries before heading out. Check the weather report as well as the local information on crocodiles, which seasonally inhabit the waters.

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