At Wadeye and at Werntek Nganayi there were Aboriginal people living on the land. The Aboriginal people fished and hunted and lived in family groups for thousands of years.

Before the first contact with white men, Maccasans came in by boat and traded for trepang (sea slug) with the Aboriginal people living along the coast.

The Government invited Fr Docherty MSC to set up a mission in the Port Keats area. In 1935 he began the mission at Werntek Nganayi (Old Mission). 

Because the place was not good for gardening or houses, he looked for another site which would be a good place to build houses.

He found there was good flowing water and soil for gardening, a landing site for planes and good landing for the boat to come in.

The people moved all their things from Werntek Nganayi to Wadeye by boat and started building houses and planting gardens.


In 1941 some nuns came and started the school.


Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School





1899 born in Urwin Western Australia

1927 ordained as priest, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (M.S.C.)

1928 came to Darwin

1935 came to Werntek Nganayi

1939 moved to Wadeye

1958 went to Sydney

1959 went to Hammond Island Torres Strait

1968 moved to Darwin

1972 moved to Daly River

1978 awarded Order of Australia

1979 died in Perth; buried back at Port Keats Wadeye near the new church ground.


Today Port Keats is a community with about 2000 people from different clan groups and languages.

There are seven languages; the main language that is spoken around Wadeye is Murrinhpatha.

Adults and children speak this language to communicate but their own language is spoken at home.

Wadeye Community Photo's

Kardu Numida Health Centre

Kardu Nimda Club

Wadeye Tradional Credit Union

Murin Airways

Wadeye Community Police

Mia Patha - Takeaway

Kardu Nimida Art and Craft Centre being built