Home' API Magazine : October 2014 Contents 102 n APIMAGAZINE.COM.AU n OCTOBER 2014
hile perhaps best known as
a tourism gateway to nearby
attractions such as the Nitmiluk
National Park, the town of
Katherine in the Top End has much more to
it than meets the eye.
The regional hub has plenty of industry,
some of which is expanding, and this will
bring more people to the area, giving it a
boost. Katherine has had an undersupply
of land and housing in the past, stifling its
growth, but a land use plan for the area has
recently been signed off by the Northern
Territory Government. It will provide
certainty for the growth to come, as well as a
blueprint for how it will be managed.
While the Katherine Land Use Plan has
recently been included in the NT Planning
Scheme, development on the ground is
already happening in Katherine, with a
residential subdivision for Katherine East
given the go ahead in the middle of the year.
This development alone will accommodate
up to 500 new dwellings and more than 1500
extra people in Katherine, which will see the
town’s population of around 6000 people
rise by almost 25 per cent. While this land
release is expected to look after the short to
medium-term demand in the region, more
development is also now set to come in the
future with further land releases.
Quentin Kilian, chief executive officer
of the Real Estate Institute of the NT, says
much like the rest of the Territory’s centres
for the past 10 years, Katherine has been
undersupplied, largely due to previous
governments failing to release enough land
to keep up with growth, as well as issues with
flooding and native title.
“It was absolutely necessary to get some
more residential land out there,” he says.
“In Katherine in particular we were often
seeing a zero per cent vacancy rate for
housing – that wasn’t unusual at all.”
According to the local member for
Katherine, Willem Westra van Holthe, prior
to the current government recently signing
off on the latest residential subdivision in
the region, the last residential land release
in the town was in the 1990s. He adds that
the government has also just made available
some commercial and light industrial
land in Katherine, and is considering its
Situated on the Katherine River some 300
kilometres southeast of Darwin, Katherine
already services a big regional area and
politicians see big things happening for the
town in the future. There’s an expectation it
will grow as a regional hub, with its existing
pastoral, mining – particularly gold, energy
and defence industries to be expanded.
Katherine is the closest major town to the
RAAF Base Trindal, which is located less
than 20 kilometres to the southeast.
“With the government’s plan to grow
northern Australia, Katherine will only
continue to expand and service more
industry,” Westra van Holthe, who is very
bullish about the future of the area, says.
“I’ve often said Katherine is the centre
of the universe, and this (land use) plan
certainly supports that with predictions of
great things to come to the region.
“As industry expands we expect people
to come from all over Australia to live
From an investor’s perspective Katherine,
the largest settlement in the NT, should
never be overlooked, according to Kilian,
with the ongoing undersupply creating good
opportunities in the region. While there’s
growth in industry in the area, creating
jobs, he says that given it’s a regional centre
servicing a wide area it’s always had a large
contingent of government workers requiring
While the NT Government is addressing the land undersupply in one of its biggest regional
towns, the returns for investors are still expected to be strong. ANNE ALEXANDER
accommodation. They’re placed in Katherine
for lengthy periods of time, he explains, but
because their placement isn’t permanent they
opt to rent rather than buy.
The undersupply of housing, combined
with this strong demand in the rental market,
has led to very respectable returns for
investors, according to Kilian.
“Katherine has always had very good
returns – rental yields have exceeded six per
cent on a regular basis,” he says.
But the new land subdivision set to go
ahead in Katherine East won’t change the
demand and supply equation too much at all,
“ This first land release won’t go anywhere
close to saturating the market or meeting its
growth needs, so returns to investors won’t
be diluted,” he says.
“At the moment there are many mining
and government workers in the area forced
into hotels – it’s very difficult to find a hotel
room in Katherine because they’re taken up
Terry Roth, director of Herron Todd White
in Darwin, agrees investors can see good
returns from property in Katherine, with
returns grossing around seven to 7.5 per cent.
But he says these yields are most likely
to be found in better quality areas in
Katherine East, which is situated away from
the Katherine River and outside the town’s
flood zone. This is where most of the new
development has taken place in recent years.
Capital growth in the future isn’t expected
to be huge, but the experts agree it will be
steady, with investors advised to take a
long-term approach to the market. API
Nitmiluk National Park
“As industry expands we expect
people to come from all over
Australia to live in Katherine.”
WILLEM WESTRA VAN HOLTHE
THE STATES n Northern Territory
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