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History & heritage in Katherine

A fascinating history of ancient indigenous culture combined with subsequent European settlement has made Katherine the special place it is today.

A meeting place

Marking the point where the traditional lands of the Jawoyn, Dagoman and Wardaman Aboriginal peoples converge, Katherine has been a meeting place for indigenous people for many thousands of years, and remains so today. This can be seen across the region, through the ancient art and sacred sites throughout the land, as well as information centres and tours telling of the stories and places of Aboriginal significance.

Early pioneer days

When explorer John Stuart passed through the region in 1862, it was only ten years before the Katherine Telegraph Station was built and the Overland Telegraph Line would be completed. The telegraph line bisected Australia and laid the groundwork for the Adelaide to Darwin railway.

Though construction on the railway began in 1878 in Port Augusta, the final Alice Springs to Darwin leg of the track didn’t begin construction until 2001, and the first passenger train only arrived in Darwin in 2004. Much of Katherine’s history is tied up in the railway – the site of Katherine itself had to be moved twice during the railway’s construction, only finding its eventual home in 1926.