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Katherine River heli-kayaking

Thursday, September 4, 2008
The Northern Territory is massive, with great distances between destinations. The Katherine region covers one-quarter of the Territory. Its lifeline is the Katherine River, which meanders through the rugged landscape.

Gecko Canoeing Tours and Airborne Solutions have united to deliver one of the best wilderness holidays ever. Gecko has been running kayaking trips in the Territory since 1994 and by joining with Airborne Solutions have made it possible for you to spend more time at the destination. A drive from Darwin to Katherine takes three to four hours and a further couple of hours to reach the most scenic parts. Now you can be there in around one hour.

The adventure takes in an aerial tour of the Katherine region and lands on the riverbank for two days, including an overnight of camping.

On the way, Darrin, Airborne's chief pilot, comments on the geological make-up of the gorge and surrounding Arnhem Land Plateau, as well as local history.

Kayaking takes place in the tropical savannah region, away from usual tourist destinations. This is in the Katherine Region River Systems, which includes the Katherine River itself as well as the Wilton, Wickham, Waterhouse and Flora Rivers.

The system is a drop pool type river. The deep waterholes, sometimes up to 8km in length, are beautiful, calm and flat. Waterholes are separated by elevations and drops which vary from rock bars and gravel races to narrow chutes and pandanus channels.

Simple rapids exist, between grades I and II on the International Scale of River Difficulty grading system. These rapids suit beginners. There are occasional capsizes, but with comfortable water temperatures and easy access to re-board the kayak, they are more fun than anything.

You will mainly be travelling downstream on peaceful stretches of water, separated by small rapids or channels around every hour.

There is plenty of time to relax, swim, fish and appreciate the scenery and wildlife. You will see parrots, honeyeaters, crows, little finches and flycatchers. Vegetation provides shade during the hottest part of the day.

You will surely encounter crocodiles, but we are assured they are freshwater crocodiles. The saltwater crocs are the ones to be wary of and the operators, with other locals, make sure the river remains salty-free!

Gecko takes groups of between two and eight people with the aim of having minimal impact on the environment. There are no set campsites, so they are able to be selective when setting up for the night in a spot where it is highly unlikely you will see any other people.

Swag-style camping lets you decide whether to sleep in a tent or under the stars. In no time you will be at home beside the river and the kettle, grill and camp ovens ready to prepare a delicious meal.

The operators have thought of everything. You are given a complete pack of toiletries with the addition of torch, batteries, a little clothesline, moisturiser and even a mirror.


Katherine in the Northern Territory.


Gecko Canoeing and Airborne Solutions' three-day Katherine River Kayaking Experience for four people is $1250 per person fly-in/drive-out or $1700 per person fly-in/fly-out from Katherine. From Darwin they are $3000 per person fly-in/fly-out. Three-day canoeing safaris are $720 per person.

The price includes a scenic helicopter flight over Nitmiluk Gorge and Katherine River, helicopter drop to river access, qualified and experienced guides and pilots and all meals and equipment. They operate between May and November.

Contact Gecko Canoeing for package details.

Prices correct at September 4, 2008.

For further information

Airborne Solutions
PO Box 150
Katherine 0851
Ph: (08) 8972 2345
Mob: 0437 254 121
Fax: (08) 8972 2535

Gecko Canoeing
PO Box 21
Katherine 08051
Ph: (08) 8972 2224 or 1800 634 319
Fax: (08) 8972 2294

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