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Katherine is a meeting place for people from around the region, which covers 346,000 square kms and makes up about 25% of the landmass of the Northern Territory. The town of Katherine is located approximately 320 km south west of Darwin on the banks of the Katherine River and has a population of around 10,000.
The Katherine community offers a unique mix of cultures. The region, which consists largely of pastoral properties and Indigenous communities, includes the townships of Pine Creek, Mataranka, Larrimah, Timber Creek, Daly Waters and Borroloola. Indigenous communities in the region include Ngukurr, Barunga, Bulman, Lajamanu and Kalkarindji. In 2012 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 52.0% of the population of the region.
There are three key Aboriginal groups in close proximity to Katherine. These are the Dagoman, Jawoyn and Wardaman people. These groups lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle and intermarried with other clans in line with cultural laws.
The wider Katherine region incorporates over 30 language groups. Languages most commonly spoken in the region include Gurindji, Nganinyman, Nunggubuyu, Mayali, Rembarrnga and Dalabon, with some languages only spoken now by a small number of elders. Kriol is the most widely used language the Katherine region, with different variants spoken in the east side and west side of the region.
In recent decades, Katherine has developed as a centre supporting the cattle, horticulture, agriculture and tourism industries. It also has a strategic military function with RAAF Base Tindal, located 15 kms from the Katherine township. Nearly 2,000 people Defence members and their families live in Katherine with many living in Katherine East as well as on the base.
Visit the Katherine Museum http://www.katherinemuseum.com for information of the history of the region.