History has forgotten the original tenants of O’Keeffe House said Kathryn, daughter of Alfred and Edna Wynn.
“I have been researching O’Keeffe House and have noticed that there has not been any mention or recognition of my family, who were the very first occupants of O’Keeffe House,” Ms Wynn said.
O'Keeffe House is a small residence on Riverbank Drive, built in 1943, originally intended as a recreation hut for army officers stationed in Katherine, it soon became the officers' mess.
It is one of the very few structures from the World War II era that have survived in the Katherine area.
“My father, Alfred (Alan) Wynn was a Corporal in the army in World War II in Darwin, when it was bombed,” Ms Wynn said.
“He stayed on after the war ended and helped to establish the CSIRO, then named the CSIR, in Katherine.
“He purchased O’Keeffe House, which was an army recreation building for personnel stationed in Katherine, it was made of local Cypress Pine, corrugated iron sheeting, fly wire and had concrete floors.
“My father turned it into a home, adding an extra room. In November 1946 my mother, Edna Wynn, came to finally join him there, bringing with her their 3 month old son, Alan.
“Life was tough but they managed.
“Although it sounds quite liveable, my mother always referred to the house as a ‘bark hut’,” she said.
“We have photos to prove that my family lived there for approximately 10 years, my siblings all have vivid recollections of living and growing up there and can also provide more details.
“I grew up hearing many stories of snakes and crocodiles which were frequent visitors both inside and outside the hut.
‘I remember hearing one story of them canoeing down the river at night to visit some friends and hearing gunshots being fired across the Katherine River.
“When baby Alan started crying they heard someone say “Stop firing. There’s a baby," she said.
“John Flynn the Flying Doctor was a friend and also a regular visitor,” Ms Wynn said.
“He nicknamed my family ‘Wynn of the Inland’ after his own nickname of ‘Flynn of the Inland’.
Alan and Edna eventually added two more to their little family, Sandra who was born in Katherine in 1948 and Gregory born in Darwin in 1951.
“After nearly 10 years living in what I believe to be quite challenging conditions, my family moved to Samford in Queensland.
“My father had transferred to the Samford CSIRO and worked there until 1983, when he retired at the age of 66 years old,” she said.
‘My sister Jennifer was born in 1956 and I was born in 1958.
“I was called Kathryn but always wondered why they didn’t spell it the same as the town,” she said.
“I hope to visit the Northern Territory one day soon, and come see for myself the ‘bark hut’, on the banks of the Katherine River, that I grew up hearing so much about.”
The house has been associated with a number of famous local Territory people.
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.
It is open to the public from May to September.