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Paddling the pristine Katherine River.
Paddling the pristine Katherine River.
Catriona setting off down the Katherine River.
You'll be taking the corners in no time.
Beautiful beach campsites by night.

Gecko Canoeing

Thursday, September 7, 2000
Canoe the Katherine River on this ecological tour. Pass through Northern Territory national parks, peaceful pools and gushing rapids, then sleep under the stars at the day's end.

Snowy Wohling has represented his state and Australia as a canoeist. For 14 years he extensively toured outback Australia, and for the last seven years he has lived in Katherine.

Snowy established Gecko Canoeing in 1994, and his company offers fully catered, fully guided safaris on the Katherine River, as well as other tropical savanna waterways. They present a new concept in ecologically sensitive touring. Canoes and kayaks are the ideal vehicle for quiet, non-intrusive access into previously unexplored, varied and beautiful areas.

Gecko Tours range from one to 12 days. We chose to do the three-day Katherine River tour, which is all downstream for 42km. The river falls naturally from the Arnhem Land escarpment, and the area has long been known for the Katherine Gorge, or Nitmiluk National Park.

You will be supplied with all paddling and safety equipment, waterproof containers and bags, camping swags, sheets, pillows and sleeping bag. All meals are supplied — good, fresh, gourmet food and plenty of it. Just as importantly, you will be supplied with a relaxing and stress-free environment, personal attention and instruction, and you will learn about the natural features, environment and ecosystems of the area.

All you have to take are your personal needs — hat, towel, sunglasses, clothing, personal items and your spirit of adventure. Whilst previous canoeing or kayaking experience is not a prerequisite, you should be reasonably fit and in good health.

The canoes negotiate small, fast channels parallel to the main river, continuing downstream through Strainer One, Ballongilly Waterhole, through Dog Leg Rockbar, Poroses Hole and into the top of Pandannus Channel country — small, narrow fast-flowing channels interspersed with log jam strainers, tight corners and heavy riverine forest growth. Further on you pass through Boat Cruncher Rock Bar, Brewers Lagoon, Johnson's Hole and the Twins Rockbar.

Next you will go through Carbeen Waterhole and into the Carbeen Rapids, a long rocky section of river. Further on is Side Channel, Dead Man's Drop Rockbar, Fruitcake Rockbar and Split Rock. The cruise ends at King River Junction, where your 4WD will take you back to Katherine.

Nights are spent in swags or sleeping bags, and campfire barbecues under clear, starry skies are the perfect way to reflect on all you have seen during the day. There is a huge variety of bird life in the area — ducks, egrets, heron, parrots, cockatoos and storks — as well as crocodiles, goanna, wallabies, euros and plenty of fish.


The Katherine River in the Northern Territory.


Gecko Canoeing Gecko Canoeing two-day trips start at $195 per person a day, including all meals. They run through the dry season from April to October.

More information

Gecko Canoeing
PO Box 21 Katherine 0851
Ph: (08) 8972 2224
Fax: (08) 8972 2294

Best Western: 13 1779
Qantas: 13 1313

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