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.