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Wadeye

Wadeye is 270 km south-west of Darwin in the Daly River Reserve, close to the coast of the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf. The surrounding area is known as the Thamarrurr region.

Aboriginal people have inhabited the region for more than 40,000 years. In 1935 the Catholic Church began a mission on the coast at Port Keats, at a site known as Wentek Nganayi by traditional owners. They had been asked to do this by the Australian Government. The protection and services offered by the mission attracted people from seven different language groups and more than 20 clans. The mission moved inland in 1939 to Yidiyi, which provided a sheltered boat landing and a place for an airstrip. The Australian Government oversaw the mission until 1978.

Local government was handed over to the Kardu Numida Council by the Northern Territory Government in 1978, when the community’s name was changed to Wadeye. The council later evolved into the Thamarrurr Regional Council, which was made up of representatives from the 20 clan groups in the region. In 2008 Wadeye became part of the Victoria Daly Shire and the Shire took over local government.

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