Back in Time is a weekly column about the exciting history of the Katherine region.
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O’Keeffe House on Riverbank Drive was named after Olive and John O’Keeffe the last residents of the house and is one of the very few structures from the World War II era that have survived.
Olive O’Keeffe (nee Harvey), arrived in the NT in 1936 and was the Matron of the Katherine Hospital for many years.
She also worked with Dr Clyde Fenton. John O’Keeffe was a baker and worked the railway; he took on a contract to supply meat to the government and worked at the Sportsman Arms Hotel and Store.
John O’Keeffe was also a cousin of Tim Shea, the local publican and owner of the now Katherine Hotel.
O’Keeffe House was built in 1924 and originally built as an Army recreation hut for personnel stationed in Katherine and is constructed of local Cypress Pine, corrugated iron sheeting, fly wire and concrete floors.
The house had a number of residents prior to the O’Keeffe’s, including Bill Forrester a PMG Linesman, Mr and Mrs Dave Drysdale, parents of local matriarch Mrs Ingrid Phillips, and Charlie Fuller a drover who became the first Municipal Officer for the Northern Territory Administration in Katherine.
Restored by the National Trust in 1988 O’Keeffe House is open to the public from May to September.
A recent addition to the grounds has been an original Sidney Williams Hut.
Set in lush gardens on Riverbank Drive, O’Keeffe House is managed by the Katherine Branch of the National Trust and is open to the public throughout the dry season.
The Trust is always looking for new members and volunteers and the site is available for hire for private functions.
Contact Gillian Banks on 89721686 for more info.
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