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Heading off to buy a didgeridoo
Heading off to buy a didgeridoo
Inside the shop
At a show


Thursday, March 20, 2003
Sorrel unravels Katherine's colourful frontier history as she enters the didgeridoo capital of Australia.

There was a time when tourists went straight through the town of Katherine on their way to other places such as Katherine Gorge, Kakadu and Pine Creek. Now they are discovering what the town has to offer and tourism is flourishing.

Katherine is a hub of activity and is the crossroads of the centre of Australia's east and west and is on the main road between Darwin and Alice Springs.

It was the meeting place of the Jawoyan, Walpiri, Dagaman and Wardiman tribal lands, and the people got together by the river and in the nearby gorge.

John McDouall Stuart passed through the area in 1862 and gave Katherine its name. He was sponsored by a South Australian pastoralist who was obsessed with establishing an overland telegraph station and a link to Europe. It arrived in 1872 and was just six rooms built from slabs and with a tin roof.

In 1877, 40 men, 2500 cattle and 12000 sheep arrived after a 20-month journey from South Australia and a homestead was built near the river to accommodate them.

The town is rich in indigenous culture and arts. Manyallaluk, just one-and-a-quarter hour's drive away, is also rich in Aboriginal treasures.

Katherine's main street has modern shops, banks, cinemas and all the things most Australian towns have, but it retains things from earlier days which give it a truly interesting feeling.

Around 10,000 people live in the Territory's third largest town and they have to deal with the only traffic lights along the 1500km highway linking Darwin and Alice Springs.

Katherine is Australia's didgeridoo capital as the correct timber to make the ancient instruments grows in a corridor from Timber Creek to Gove with Katherine between the two. The genuine articles are for sale in town.

Mataranka thermal pools are not far out of town, but if you don't feel like driving, there are some small pools in town. In the town's main street is the Katherine Art Gallery. It has many indigenous artworks and quite often there are painters on-site creating new works.

The museum is open each day and amongst other things has an old bi-plane which was used by northern Australia's first flying doctor.

There are didgeridoo workshops and you can participate or observe and purchase if you wish.

In the dry season between May and October you should make a point of attending a corroboree.

Knotts Crossing Resort is two kilometres out of town and has four levels of accommodation to choose from — motel-style rooms, cabins, caravans and camping. There are powered caravan and camping sites with private ensuites, a bistro, lots of shade and two pools.


Three hours drive south-east of Darwin.


Corroboree performances cost $15 for adults and $5 for children. They are on twice a week from April to October.
Knotts Crossing Resort rooms start at $100 a double a night.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Katherine Region Tourist Association
Lindsay Street and Katherine Terrace, Katherine 0851
Ph: (08) 8972 2650 1800 653 142
Fax: (08) 8972 2969

Katherine Art Gallery
Box 2117 Katherine 0851
Ph: (08) 8971 1051
Fax: (08) 8971 1050

Katherine Museum
Giles Street, Katherine 0851
Ph: (08) 8972 3945
Fax: (08) 8972 3946

Whoop Whoop Didgeridoos
PO Box 2471, Katherine 0851

Knotts Crossing Resort
Giles and Cameron Streets, Katherine 0851

Qantas: 13 13 13

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