Katherine Timeline

Katherine Timeline – By Katherine Historical Society


  • Dr Ludwig Leichhardt discovers sources of river later known as the Katherine


  • John McDouall Stuart crosses river July 8th, 80 km upstream, names it Katherine after Chamber’s daughter. Original spelling with a “C”. Chambers assisted with finances for Stuart’s expeditions


  • George McLaughlan surveys south from Darwin to Katherine for a route of overland telegraph line
  • Contract for the O.T Line signed by S.A Government and British Australia Telegraph Company ( BAT ) to build line from Darwin to Adelaide
  • First pole planted by Mrs. Daly in Darwin


  • Establishment is built (date unknown) on the river bank above crossing of river known as Barney Murphy’s. Known to be there in 1871 when travelers used it going to Pine Creek during gold rush
  • Poling party reaches Katherine from Darwin


  • Overland telegraph line opened 22nd August at 3 pm
  • Telegraph Station up River from crossing,(Short distance – approx. less than 1 km )


  • Springvale leases taken up by Dr. W.Browne, Gilbert McMinn and A.W.Sergison traces Katherine River through extremely  rough country


  • Springvale stocked in June by Alfred Giles with stock from S.A. 8000 sheep, 2000 mixed cattle, several good bulls and 90 brood mares


  • Sheep moved to Delemere as country not suitable
  • Elsey station established  (third in the Territory) granted to Mr. A. Wallace stocked 1881
  • Alfred Giles marries Miss Sprigg on the 26th February


  • Construction of Springvale homestead by stone mason Fred Stone
  • Construction of railway line started from Palmerston (Darwin) to Pine Creek


  • Springvale sold, Giles dismissed


  • Gold mining at Maude’s Creek (near Katherine Gorge) not a rich find


  • Licensee of the Sportsman’s Arms was Tom Pearce – same site as the original crossing – now private home and situated above Knotts crossing just past the hospital on the Gorge Road


  • Old Katherine consists of Sportsman’s Arm pub, a cottage, police station, telegraph station and associated buildings
  • As described by Mrs. Gunn when she went on her way from Darwin to Elsey


  • Some 37 horses at the telegraph station. Tom Pearce sells bullocks to Pine Creek butchers
  • He also builds a 6 room house, kitchen and pantry and erects a branding yard
  • Constable Michael John ( Ballyhooly) Kingston and his wife are now licensees of the Sportsman’s Arms


  • Kingston dies in April of Malaria


  • Elizabeth Kingston (licensee of the Sportsman’s Arms) dies, 22nd March
  • Hotel taken over by McKeddies
  • Bullock wagons took supplies from Pine Creek (railhead town) to VRD (Victoria River Downs) every six months


  • Authority to build railway line extension from Pine Creek to Katherine embodied in Act no 21 of 1913, assented in 1915
  • Katherine supplies mining town of Maranboy


  • Manbulloo station established 11 km west of Emungalan on the South side of the River. Used for holding cattle waiting for shipment to Vesty’s Meatworks in Darwin established in 1917
  • L.M.Harrod, surveyor who surveys King, Maud and Roper Rivers and results in development of agriculture blocks in some areas
  • Government Battery built at Maranboy


  • Maranboy hospital established
  • Emungalan township laid out by David Lindsay (surveyor)
  • Also lots 1-32 for Katherine. Date queried, could have been 1918


  • Railway from Darwin to Emungalan completed to the north bank of the river
  • Railway station built
  • Emungalan grown to a population of 200 and is railhead town about 1 km from the river on the Northern side from the     present town. Consisting of school (part of the railway St), Hotel, 3 saddlers, blacksmiths, 2 general stores (Chinese)


  • Telephone line erected from Katherine to Maranboy present spelling – original had a double R


  • Work begins in earnest on Rail bridge
  • Agriculture sub-divisions open on Katherine River – peanuts & cotton
  • Airstrip constructed 3-4 km S.W. of Emungalan as unemployment relief measures
  • Works fully manned, five small farmers settled. Proper school built at Emungalan


  • First houses in New Katherine town on the south of the river (present site)
  • Building from. O.T. Station to town to operate as a post office
  • First official train crosses new bridge on Xmas eve


  • First official train crosses bridge Jan 26th. First land auction held in Katherine
  • Business and houses moved to new Katherine
  • Sportsman’s Arms license relocated at Commercial Hotel (Previous Crossways now Rio’s) leaving store at Old Katherine
  • Railway built, also goods shed, railway tank trucking yards and other structures for loading. First reticulated water to the Post Office by the Railways. Fees were charged for the water


  • Site for Aerodrome secured one and a half-km N.E. of town on the south side of the river
  • Emungalan strip abandoned
  • Katherine a thriving town


  • Dr Clyde Fenton arrived in N.T. to start work, described in book ” Flying Doctor”


  • Guinea Airways Lockheed plane on inspection run crashed in Katherine River. Four men killed


  • Defence planners believe an all weather road vital to defence
  • Road built with minor help from the United States
  • Katherine comes under martial law, troops stationed at Katherine and Manbulloo
  • Dr Clyde Fenton leaves Katherine and enlists as a flying instructor. transfers to Darwin for aerial survey duties


  • Katherine Bombed March, an aboriginal killed in the rocks area by (thought to be concussion not a hit) Daisy Cutter bomb
  • Two Americans injured when they ran off the riverbank. Women, children and elderly evacuated several days later
  • Meatworks established at Manbulloo to feed the troops


  • Guineas Airways begin to use Katherine as a refueling stop. DCA sets up control center


  • PMG Linesmen Henry Scott arrives in Katherine, Depot set up Condon Street
  • CSIRO Research Station set up


  • Government proposal to abandon Katherine in favor of Elliott. Residents form a progress association and objected, WON
  • Expansion of housing into new town area on the west side of the railway line


  • Peanut production boom – slumps later and finally abandoned


  • Katherine floods – River breaks banks near Sportsman’s Arms, water goes around the back of the airport and floods into town from the south up to the highway
  • First public library for Katherine on the 13th April to be housed in the Municipal Office


  • First part time library assistant appointed


  • Northmeat meatworks opens on Victoria Highway just out of town


  • New District Office on the corner of Giles and 1st Street


  • Population 919 this census did not include outlying areas such as farmers and Tindal so there for is not a true figure


  • Population of Tindal 600
  • Electricity available to all new buildings in the Katherine Terrace
  • Water is available to 50% until new ring main installed
  • The town management board wanted to introduce a charge of 10 c for people using the Low Level reserve this was objected to and fell through. A 10c levy for the use of the toilet facility being built held no objections


  • Gus Trippe donates the leper van to the Katherine town Promotion Committee
  • A large capacity generator is installed at the Power House


  • Northmeat destroyed by fire and is rebuilt in four months


  • Crossways Motel / Hotel is built on the site of the old Commercial Hotel


  • First issue of local newspaper ‘The Informer”
  • Historical Society formed and Katherine Museum Opens


  • A new butcher shop in the main street built by Northmeat
  • Local identity Cyril Cox dies in the 15th October


  • Official Television reception December 21st
  • Springvale is sold to tourist operators


  • New Road bridge completed on the 21st August


  • Official opening of the Katherine Road Bridge
  • Katherine Area School divided up
  • Katherine South Primary School established in Temporary building
  • North Australian Railway closed


  • The Informer is sold and becomes the ‘Advertiser’
  • Opening of Clyde Fenton Primary School and Katherine High School


  • Katherine Civil airport closed
  • Self Government is granted to the Northern Territory, which meant the end of the Town Management board and start of the Katherine Town Council
  • Formation of a bowling green construction committee with the Katherine Golf Club inc


  • Block allocated for a new creshe in O’Shea’s Terrace next to the Katherine Club
  • $1000 granted to restore the old storeroom at Springvale built over 100 years ago
  • Official opening of the Public Library on the 10th December in Katherine Terrace
  • Council adopted Emblem designed by local teacher Pam Crellin


  • Dr. Clyde Fenton dies at the age of 81
  • Children Road safety canter opens, valued at $70,000 established by the Rotary Club Katherine
  • Katherine’s water supply updated with a new water treatment plant
  • The Low Level road has its name altered to Zimmin Drive
  • Saturday the 6th of November was the official opening of the Go-Kart and BMX complex by Mr. Nick Dondas
  • Gorge visitor center opens


  • First land claim hearing of the Gorge by the Jawoyn people
  • Kalano health service clinic opened on the 3rd of November
  • Katherine Dry Cleaning Service opened, owned by Patrick Murphy
  • Paraway Motel opened in May. Named after explorer Nat Buchanan
  • 3rd of November Kalano new $2000,000 health service clinic opened
  • In July the Katherine Fire Brigade gets a new Truck


  • New Commonwealth Bank building officially opened on the 18th June
  • 12th of October Coates Hire Service for Katherine Manager Peter Fowler
  • 2nd October the Melbourne Philharmonic Orchestra performed at Clyde Fenton School
  • July: Staff at Katherine Stores hosts a farewell party for Fay and Les Cox on their retirement
  • 17th Of October Bob Hawke flew into Katherine to unveil a commemorative plaque to mark the start of the new work on the RAAF Tindal development
  • Katherine South Pre-school celebrates its Silver Jubilee on Sunday the 23rd of September


  • Katherine Museum and Historical Park opened by Dr. Peter Giles on the 20th April
  • 20th of November Jawoyn traditional owners and local mining company sign agreement to commence mining in and around traditional sites
  • 29th June Paddy Fitzgerald and Tommy O’Brien and Nick’s betting shop closed their doors and Malcolm
  • McMillan; agent for TAB took over
  • Lisa Curry visited Katherine on the 29th – 30th of July with Paul Quinlan, the national director for swimming as part of Uncle Toby’s National swim program
  • 4 Field survey squadron who have been based in Katherine since May with other members if the Aviation department and   their purpose is to up date and improve the accuracy and scale of the maps in the NT. Maps which are presently drawn to a scale of 1:250,00, the updated maps will be 1:500,000 and will show new works such as fencing, dams, tracks, new buildings and also the re- alignment of the Stuart highway


  • Rowland Dairy opens producing 110,000 litres per day
  • Old Post Office demolished on May 15th


  • New gas turbine installed at Katherine Power House
  • New Schools, MacFarlane Primary School, St Joseph’s Primary School
  • Bus service for Katherine (this failed)
  • New Post Office opens in March
  • Katherine East Super Market
  • Woolworth’s supermarket opens


  • Prime Minister Hawke announced that Tindal would become permanent base for the RAAF


  • Katherine Gorge handed back to traditional owners
  • Clyde Fenton’s first plane UNI (Gipsy Moth) comes home
  • The Telecom Depot is officially close Friday 23 June signifying the end of it 43 years service to the Katherine Region
  • Site Condon Street move to Bicentennial Rd, Road named Henry Scott Drive after 40 years of service to the PMG
  • Telstra operated from new site


  • The wardaman people who lived and worked on Manbulloo station for many years were granted Binjari as an excision for Manbulloo
  • 1st successful year of the Soccer association formed by Dave Higginson , Mauro Buzzo , Albert Fior and Brian Sorohan
  • AUGUST: A mid air collision between 2 air force F/A/ -18 Hornets claimed the life of 75 Squadron pilot, Wing Commander Ross Fox
  • American B1 bomber caves in the roof at SOS cleaning services in Crawford Street
  • Group Captain Peter Nickolson hands over command of Tindal to Officer Commanding Bruce Mouatt
  • NOVEMBER: The Katherine Town Council wins the 1st NT landcare Awards
  • The state bank of SA shuts its doors after opening in April 1997
  • SEPTEMBER: Bert Nixon crossing officially opened on Emungalan road
  • Opening of DPI & F research station set to become the hub of NT Agricultural research
  • DECEMBER: Skonis building company to face fraud charges in relation to construction of 97 houses at Tindal, defects costing more than 2 million found in 379 houses. Faulty air conditioning, termite infestation, poor tiling and drainage problems
  • New Red cross kiosk opens at the Katherine Hospital in the Roney wing the original kiosk was built in the middle of  the building


  • Break up of partnership Travel North after 23 years ( Werny Sarney bought out Brian Lambert)
  • The Daisy Angus Child Care center closes due to lack of demand on the 26th April after 4 years of operations
  • The Katherine Times wins best Newspaper in its category in the SA Country Press Association Annual awards
  • JUNE: English tourist Fiona Mary Cary found murdered near Edith River, David Troy Masters was extradited from WA to Darwin to face trial
  • An Ansett Boeing 727 carrying 80 passengers used RAAF base Tindal for an emergency landing after a bomb scare (no bomb was found)
  • AUGUST: Kintore Street School receives its first bus under a grant from the Commonwealth School Commission
  • JULY: Human remains were found near the river behind the meatworks , bones were sent to Darwin for forensic pathologist testing
  • NOVEMBER: Katherine receives another radio station (Radio National) making 2 ABC services available in Katherine
  • OCTOBER: The sports oval gets new portable grandstands
  • SEPTEMBER: New lights are installed at the Katherine Show grounds
  • A Scuba diving club formed in May performed their first dive at Edith falls Sept 10th


  • Katherine Town Council makes history by being the first Territory Council to take over local airport – Federal transport and communications Minister Senator Bob Collins handed over a cheque for $336,300 to help council upgrade
  • 4th September: Red Cross aged care Hostel officially opened by Win Snodgrass O.A.M
  • End of June the Commonwealth bank closed over a pay dispute which stemmed from a compulsory retrenchment and proposed working hours the union claimed an 8% rise and the bank claimed a 2% rise. The automatic teller machine was operating during the strike, only few felt the disruption to services


  • New Court house opens
  • Traffic lights, Giles Street and Katherine Terrace intersection
  • 1st Cannon Ball run Darwin to Alice Springs
  • Katherine Wildlife Park opens


  • Australia remembers 1945-1995
  • Opening of the Pioneer Pathway
  • Opening of the Town Square


  • New Footpaths over the Low Level crossing
  • 30th Anniversary of the ” Walkout” Wavehill


  • Australia day Katherine has one of the biggest floods ever-recorded losses of life 3 all roads closed and houses under water


  • Second flood hits Katherine Gorge Rd mainly being affected.  Many families leave town broken hearted
  • A Museum staff member finds a burial list for cemetery used during World War II.  Files opened Canberra National Archives


  • Katherine Town Council build Bullock Creek rd up with culverts. Access is now available to town for Gorge rd Residents


  • McDonalds built on the corner of First Street and Giles Street
  • The drying out centre is built on Giles Street opposite O’Shea Terrace
  • Katherine South Preschool is built within the grounds of Katherine South Primary School

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