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At the end of a 337km drive south from Darwin, Katherine is a large, well-presented town on the Katherine River.

Katherine was a vital staging post in the defence of the Top End in World War II and still plays an important role in the defence network as host to Tindall Air Force base.

Katherine is centre of a large beef cattle region and an important gold producer. Tourism, too, is on the march as visitors are attracted by the spectacular river and Katherine Gorge.

Known as Nitmiluk to the local Aborigines, the gorge's ancient rock walls are pitted with caves and decorated with Aboriginal art which ranges from miniature paintings to large murals. The gorge is a sanctuary to 58 species of reptiles and amphibians, including freshwater crocodiles, and kangaroos and wallabies.

Generously supported by a vibrant, local art and craft community, there are several galleries in Katherine displaying a full range of material from craftwork to both traditional and contemporary Aboriginal paintings.