Katherine East Neighbourhood Centre

Location: Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia

Sector: Tourism / hospitality / residential

Investment type: Greenfield

Estimated total project cost: Project dependent

Investment amount sought: Variable

Project status: Conceptual

Concept street view of proposed new development

Project description

Within the Katherine Regional Land Use Plan is Katherine East, a new neighbourhood planned to accommodate growth for the town of Katherine. Within the concept plan for this area, the Katherine East Neighbourhood Centre is a mixed use commercial concept designed to support this new neighbourhood. Possible inclusions:

  • retail and commercial shopping
  • tourism accommodation
  • lifestyle / retirement village
  • education / child care facilities
  • medium density residential
  • parkland corridors.


The Northern Territory boasts abundant natural resources, major construction and infrastructure projects, a competitive business tax environment and - unlike other Australian jurisdictions - no land tax. The Northern Territory is an iconic tourist destination rich in culture and history that is full of excitement, spectacular landscapes and experiences.

Katherine is the focal point of a vibrant, diverse economic region called the Big Rivers region. The Big Rivers region covers around 25% of the Northern Territory with 49% of the region’s residents living in Katherine. The region has a broad-based economy with agriculture, mining, tourism, defence and government service delivery the main industries. Katherine is located on the road junction of Victoria and Stuart highways, connecting the Ord River and Kimberley regions with the Darwin market to the north and south to Alice Springs and Adelaide1

Katherine and the Big Rivers region is experiencing a period of economic growth, driving collaborations and creative ventures that are addressing social needs, infrastructure gaps and entrepreneurial opportunities. Significant projects such as Katherine’s CDB revitalisation, Australian Defence construction at Tindal air force base, the Katherine Logistics and Agribusiness Hub, multi-million dollar investment into nearby Nitmiluk National Park, onshore gas exploration and development and the Mount Todd Gold Mine are well underway.

Tourists canoeing in Katherine Gorge

Diverse local economy

To date, Katherine has attracted investment in mining, agribusiness and tourism. Agribusiness investment has focused on mango production, cattle properties and sandalwood. But the region’s investment pipeline is dominated by domestic investment.

Defence contributes an estimated $42 million annually to the Katherine economy in direct and indirect expenditure on goods and services, plus wages associated with the operation of Tindal RAAF Base. The base employs around 600 defence personnel and brings a further 1800 dependants to the Big Rivers region. Direct expenditure is estimated at $40 million and indirect $2 million. The contribution of defence to the Big Rivers economy, and in particular the Katherine economy, is substantial and the sector is an important economic driver. Around 46% of businesses service the defence sector in some form.

The most significant stimulus to the Katherine regional economy in the next 20 years is the Australian Government’s investment in the Northern Territory’s defence infrastructure as detailed in the Defence White paper released in 2016. This investment is estimated to exceed $7 billion in the Northern Territory - mainly in the Top End including Katherine. A total of $5.6 billion will be spent to enhance air base capacity in the Northern Territory, with capacity and facilities to support the Australian Defence Force’s future requirements, in addition to supporting visiting aircraft of allies and partners. Investment in to the Katherine region is expected to exceed $1.2 billion.

Mining: Mining is the most significant industry in the Big Rivers region in terms of value, accounting for over 21% ($293 million) of the Northern Territory’s gross regional product in 2012. There are a number of mining operations in the region with the largest mine, the McArthur River Mine located south-west of Borroloola. Two new gold mines are expected to be developed over the coming 12 months at Pine Creek. Recent mine developments include Australian IIimenite Resources’ SILL80 and Crocodile Gold’s Cosmo Deep and Rising Tide. Potential projects over the next 12 to 48  include Crocodile Gold’s Maud Creek and Vista Gold’s Mt Todd. The potential for Katherine to act as the regional service and supply hub to the mining and onshore oil / gas sectors is very strong.

Logistics: The Northern Territory Government has committed to Katherine’s development as a Northern Australia transport hub to support the region’s potential as a major mining, horticulture and agricultural site. Katherine’s role as a transport cross ways for Queensland and Western Australian goods, especially from the Ord River project areas is being strengthened and government is working with industry to develop Katherine as a centre for container storage and other industries associated with links to Asia. The Northern Territory Government is in development stages of the Katherine Logistics and Agribusiness Hub to support existing industry and drive new developments across multiple sectors.

Agribusiness: The Big Rivers region accounts for $67 million or 33% of the Northern Territory’s pastoral production. The region has 246 registered properties, holding more than 838 000 head of cattle and buffalo (around 38% of all Territory cattle). Northern Territory live cattle are exported through the Port of Darwin, primarily to South East Asia with some transported to Queensland for the eastern feedlot trade, and the remainder for domestic markets. Total exports previously accounted for over 320 000 head at a value of over $200 million. Traditionally around 47% of local businesses service the pastoral sector in some form. Fruit and vegetable production in Big Rivers region accounts for approximately 26% of the Northern Territory total production.

Tourism: Based on visitation for the period June 2015 to 2017, Katherine attracts an average of 339 000 overnight visitors per year. These visitors stay an average of 3.8 nights and spend an estimated $160 million per year. Domestic travel made up 90% of all visitors to Katherine in 2015 to 2017. Katherine is a popular destination for interstate travellers on longer driving trips with plenty of swimming, fishing, outback, heritage, hiking, nature and four wheel drive experiences available in the region. Key international source markets to the region include Germany, the United Kingdom, France and New Zealand. More insights are available on the Tourism NT website

Scope and deliverables

  • Extensive community consultation and scoping completed.
  • NT Planning Scheme amendments completed.
  • Associated civil infrastructure.

1 Regional Development Australia. 2017. https://profile.id.com.au/rda-northern-territory/population-estimate

Tourists on a tour boat down Katherine Gorge

Contact details

Daryl Hudson
Director, Tourism Investment Attraction
Department of Tourism and Culture

Phone: +61 8 8999 6020

Disclaimer: This web page includes information provided by third parties. The information is general in nature and is for information purposes only. The Northern Territory Government makes no representation about the veracity or accuracy of information provided by third parties. You must rely on your own due diligence before proceeding. You should consider seeking independent professional advice.