About Katherine

Sabu SingWhere the outback meets the tropics

Katherine is the fourth largest settlement in the Northern Territory, about a three-hour drive south-east of Darwin. Katherine is often called the Crossroads of the North as it is located on the junction of the Stuart Highway and the Victoria Highway. To get from Darwin to Western Australia, you have to go through Katherine, and similarly if you're going from Alice Springs to WA or Darwin, you have to go through Katherine.


We have a sub-tropical climate. For six-to-eight months of the year (April-October) we enjoy a dry season, which means hot days and cool nights with hardly any rain. For the rest of the year, about four-to-six months (November-March), is our intense wet season, with steamy hot days relieved by thunderous storms in the evening, the water filling our local rivers and waterholes.


Around 8,000 people live in the Katherine municipality. The local RAAF Airbase at the Katherine suburb of Tindal, adds 2,000 to this figure, making it a total of about 10,000 people living and working in Katherine.

Despite having a relatively small population and being rather remotes ourselves, we are the central hub for the surrounding areas, providing services to communities from the WA border to the Gulf of the NT. 


We have a modern shopping complex with a Woolworths and K-Hub, tourist information centre, boutique shops on the main street, a cinema, modern motels and hotels,  comfortable caravan parks, and a wide selection of restaurants and cafés.

The town is a central base for all the major government providers including a modern hospital and air medical service, two high schools and five primary schools as well as the Katherine School of the Air, also known as the World's Largest Classroom.

The Katherine Town Council operates two large sport and recreation facilities, the Katherine Sportsgrounds and Aquatic Centre and the Katherine Showgrounds Complex that are the focus area for a wide variety of sports activities all year round.


The Katherine River was named by John McDouall Stuart, Explorer, in 1862, after the daughter of one of his sponsors, James Chambers.

The town of Katherine has had several locations since the days of the crossing of the Katherine River at Knott’s Crossing, made famous in Mrs Jeannie Gunn’s novel, ‘We of the Never Never’.

The overland telegraph and original post office were situated above Knott’s Crossing, adjacent to the ‘Sportsman’s Arms Hotel’. It had an overland telegraph quarters and single room Police Station.

With the completion of the railway bridge in 1926, the present site of Katherine, on the south-eastern side of the river, was gazetted on 15th July, 1926. The new area was presumed to be less flood prone.

Katherine, situated on the banks of the beautiful Katherine River has a history of flooding and suffered a flood in 1957 and flooding of the main street in 1974.

The 1998 Australia Day flood devastated the town of Katherine and was declared a National Disaster. Cyclone Les produced between 300 and 400 millimetres of rainfall during a 48 hour period. The Katherine River rose to 21.3 metres causing the evacuation of two thirds of the community and major devastation to business community.