Katherine is a major transport hub strategically located on a road junction connecting the Ord River and the Kimberly Region of Western Australia, Alice Springs and Adelaide to the South, and Queensland to the east. Katherine is connected by rail to the north and south and plays a pivotal role in connecting the trade route in regions located east, west and south to the major port of Darwin in the north.
The Katherine Region produces an estimated 7.4 percent (1,338 billion) of the Northern Territory Gross State Product. Of this, the largest industry sectors are mining ($293 million), agriculture, forestry and fisheries ($144 million), public administrative and safety ($139 million) and construction ($114 million).
The top employing sectors in the region are public administration and safety (1922), Health and social assistance (910) and education and training (752). However, most employment growth between 2006 and 2011 Census occurred in other services (112 percent), mining (62 percent) and electricity, gas, water and waste services (59 percent).
RAAF Base Tindal is located 15kms south Katherine. Although the airfield was constructed in 1942, it is the Air Force’s youngest operational base (excepting bare base) and one of Australia’s most important defence installations.
Originally known as Carson’s Airfield during World War II, over the years it has been upgraded and extended for commercial use. In 1984, the government decided to establish an operational Air Force base at Tindal. Tindal officially opened on 1 October 1988.
RAAF Base Tindal is very much part of the community with the personnel (including families) making up almost 25% of Katherine’s population.
Traditionally it has been the services town for the large pastoral properties of the ‘Top End’. Agriculture has long been an important industry of the area. Most recently Katherine has also become an important agricultural centre for both cropping and market gardening.
Tourism has rapidly increased and is today Katherine’s largest industry.