Heading to the Northern Territory? Here is my list, tips and trick for the best hot springs you NEED to go to if you’re visiting.
These Northern Territory Hot Springs are well worth visiting on your trip to the Territory or on your road trip around the country. Dip your toe, swim, and relax – although some of these pools aren’t always necessarily all that “hot” and more so are a “warm” spring. However, most of the time they are still warm enough (especially in the Northern Territory heat).
Before visiting it for myself, when I thought of the Northern Territory, I usually thought of Uluru, long stretches of nothing, and red dirt. However, what I NOW think off is tropical oases, palm trees and hot springs, and I’m sure after you visit these spots, you will too.
When should you visit these Northern Territory Hot Springs?
Many swimming holes, including hot springs, in the Northern Territory close during the wet season. This is due to fluctuating water levels, and a higher risk of crocodiles. So, most people will visit the Northern Territory during the dry season, which is also its peak season. You can check each park and pool to see when it is open or if it is closed on the Northern Territory Parks and Reserves website.
How long do you need to visit the hot springs?
Some hot springs and swimming holes in the Northern Territory can be visited on a day trip, or you can take a tour that will take you to some of them.
Some of these hot springs however are 3-4 hours from Darwin, and therefore it is recommended you take a few days to really experience them all. There are plenty of places to stay or camp depending on how your are travelling.
As of the 3rd of April 2023, you need a NT Parks Pass to visit most national parks and reserves. There are options for a day pass, a two week pass or a 12 month pass. At the time of writing they’re $10, $30 or $60 per person respectively. Find more information on the Northern Territory website HERE.
First on the list of epic hot springs within the Northern Territory, is the beautiful blue, clear waters of Bitter Springs. This naturally fed thermal pool snakes through paper-bark trees and palm fronds. Swim and float down the stream through the crystal waters, bring a float or snorkel around looking for turtles.
This is a very popular spot during peak times so I’d suggest getting here early! The bottom of the stream has algae that grows and when it gets busy, and gets kicked up, it’s not quite as picturesque as when you’re first there and it’s all settled.
How to Get There
Bitter Springs is within Elsey National Park, so you’ll need to have a Northern Territory Parks Pass to access these Hot Springs. It’s within the township of Mataranka, about 1 hour south of Katherine.
Mataranka Thermal Pools
In the small town of Mataranka, you’ll find a palm fringed thermal pool within Elsey National Park. An easy 500m from the carpark, this thermal pool is nice and accessible. Slightly more ‘man-made’ (or developed) than the nearby Bitter Springs, but provides nice steps as a seating area within the pool.
The great thing about this spot is you can stay at the Mataranka Homestead, giving you easy access to the pool whenever you want. It’s also worth staying here if you want to try and watch Nathan ‘Whippy’ Griggs do his famous “Whip Show” (worth checking when he’s performing)!
How to Get There
This Northern Territory Hot Spring is also within Elsey National Park, so you will also need a Parks Pass to access these pools. Mataranka is just over an hour south of Katherine, and you can access the pool through the Mataranka Homestead – a decent amount of public parking is available if you’re not staying at the homestead.
Katherine Hot Springs
You can’t road trip through the Northern Territory without going through Katherine, so why not stop at their local hot springs? These are the largest of the hot springs in the NT (and also the busiest, being so close to a big town). Have your pick of what pool to relax in, or find a little nook between the two to relax.
On the two occasions we visited it was extremely busy, that being said we did go in the middle of the day. So I’d suggest going earlier to try and beat the rush. This spot also feels more exciting like a playground to explore.
How To Get There
Situated on the bank of Katherine River, within the Katherine township and only five minutes from the centre. Located on River Bank Drive. There is plenty of parking in the area.
The largest pools of ones the experience in the Northern Territory, these hot springs are fed by an underground warm spring. This is a popular swimming spot with a large picnic area, so if you’re wanting to have it to yourself (or fly a drone) you have to get here nice and early. It usually opens at 8am but fills up quickly!
These pools are a little bit cooler than some of the others, likely because they’re so much bigger, but if you go to the first, small pool at the top, this is where it is at its warmest as it rushes out.
How To Get There:
47km south of Darwin, you can visit Berry Springs on a day trip. Travel south along Stuart Highway then turn right on Cox Peninsula Road. Berry Springs Nature Park is 10km along this road on the right.
Another great hot spring is Zebedee Springs in the Kununurra Area. Read about it in my Amazing Things To Do in Kununurra and surrounds post.
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