OK class…here’s a little Top End geography and history lesson for the town we know as Katherine.

The Jaowyn and Dagomen people were the first people of the area, passing through the area for food and water, and they’ve left behind some of their stories in the impressive cliff-faces.

Then along came the first European to pass through in 1844 – Ludwig Leichhardt. A few letters home from he and fellow explorers such as John McDouall Stuart, and European settlement began to make its presence felt, with the completion of the Overland Telegraph Line in the region.

By the 1870’s the foundation for Katherine’s cattle industry was laid, reminding one of the area’s major resources today.

The 1940’s saw the boys in kahki move in as Katherine was bulging under military command as it became a major supply and maintenance centre during WW II.

Known as the “Crossroads of the North”, Katherine is today the fourth largest town in the Northern Territory.

There’s over 10, 000 people in town, and a few extra today. The Katherine courts are in session, and there’s a host of characters sitting cross legged outside the bustling building.

We’re here to re-fuel, re-supply and recharge by a caravan park pool during school sessions. Bribery gets us through Distance Ed lessons.

It must also be noted that I was rather taken with the Op Shops of Katherine.

We updated libraries, DVD collections, kids toys, wardrobes and camp gear. Shopping alongside members of the surrounding aboriginal communities we compared products and prices. The staff were terrific – both the Salvos and Red Cross enjoying banter with the locals – and as equally as convivial with the tourists. Rumour has it that army families donate endless new household items to the op shops as they finish their deployments. From the DVD racks it seems they all love “Breaking Bad”.

The Katherine Icon greets us as we cruise into town.

This bronze statue of a skilled bushman and member of the Wardaman tribe – his image became a symbol for the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association for 2002 – Australia’s Year of the Outback and his statue salutes those who work and live on the land.

I scribbled in my notebook that the NT pastoral industry generates more than $300 million directly and $880 million indirectly into the Northern Territory economy.

I scribbled a lot of other stuff too – mainly budget notes on how much we’ve spent on petrol and groceries, the blog sites of other travellers like Danny and Jason and their kids who share a Camp kitchen Distance Ed school day with us, and a few postcards to family. Katherine proves a good base to remove the red dust from creases and crevices, and take the Skipper out for dinner at the Katherine RSL.

It’s Father’s Day – he deserves a beer and slab of steak!

Check back in later, I’m way out yonder and there’s not enough juice to upload photos! Or pop over to our Instagram page and see what we’re up to. http://instagram.com/thecoastwriter

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