Wadeye is a town in Australia's Northern Territory. Pronounced wod-air-yer or "wad-ayer", it was formerly known (and is still often referred to) as Port Keats. At the 2016 census, Wadeye had a population of 2,280. Wadeye is the 6th most populous town, and the largest indigenous community in the Northern Territory.
A mission station was founded by Roman Catholic FatherRichard Docherty in 1935 at Werntek Nganayi (Old Mission), and subsequently moved to a new location with superior water, gardening and building sites and landing place.
Wadeye is mainly inhabited by Indigenous Australians. The inhabitants include seven language groups, the main language that is spoken being Murrinhpatha. The indigenous population has five traditional bands or kinship groups of Nangiomeri, Marimanindji, Marithiel, Maringar and Mulluk Mulluk. Port Keats is also the site of a temporary ADF Radar site that is used during exercises conducted in the Top End.
Art and culture
Nym Bunduk was the first painter in Wadeye who had international interest. He was asked by Bill Stanner, an anthropologist who had come with Richard Docherty in 1935, to produce pieces explaining traditional law, which he made after he saw a map produced by Stanner. He produced many bark paintings of the dreaming which informed Stanner's research. Today in Wadeye Mark Crocomb follows in the footsteps of Stanner collecting history and languages before they are lost. Following in the tradition of Nym Bundak is Richard 'Skunky' Parmbuk. He is one of many artists filling the space left by Nym in Wadeye.
Wadeye has a sealed airstrip, Port Keats Airfield, with regular passenger flights to Darwin. Road access is via the Daly River Road and is only accessible during the dry season as the wet season renders many river crossings impassable.