Tennant Creek & Barkly Region3-day itinerary
Tennant Creek offers plenty of things to do for those making their way along the Stuart Highway that connects the Top End to the Red Centre of the Northern Territory.
Head out on a 3-day road trip to the golden outback region of Tennant Creek, built on a history of gold mining and cattle stations. Gain a deeper insight of the Aboriginal cultural sites in the area, significant to the traditional owners and spend a sunrise or sunset at the iconic Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles.
Selfie stop at the Tropic of Capricorn Marker
Rise early and pack your vehicle ready to embark on your great Central Australian adventure. Travelling north, today’s first stopover is the Tropic of Capricorn, just 30km north of Alice Springs. Be sure to get your photo taken next to the unique marker which was designed by a local Alice Springs man to mark Australia’s Bicentenary.
Journey to the centre of Australia
Back on the road again, take in the beautiful desert scenery as you travel north. Approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes later you’ll come to your next travel break, the Central Mount Stuart Historical Reserve. Stop a while and stretch your legs – you’re standing smack bang in the centre of Australia! Visit the historical reserve that commemorates John McDouall Stuart’s discovery of the Centre of Australia.
Hear tales of the extraterrestrial
Continue on to Wycliffe Well, a unique outback town well worth a pit stop. Known as the UFO capital of Australia for its hundreds of reported UFO sightings – look to the skies to see if you can spot anything unusual. Hang out in the roadhouse and enjoy some refreshments as you read about the details of paranormal sightings across the shop walls and from the Wycliffe Well Guest book, where many visitors document their encounters. It’s the perfect place to pick up a souvenir or 2.
Check-in to the Devils Marbles Hotel
Drive on to the Devils Marbles Hotel, where you’ll stay tonight. Chill out this afternoon at the hotel beer garden or cool off with a dip in the swimming pool. The Devils Marbles Hotel offers a variety of accommodation options, from motel-style rooms to caravan and campsites.
Bask in the sunset glow over the Devils Marbles
Just before sundown, make your way to the Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve to witness a spectacular Central Australian sunset over the mysterious giant boulders. These ancient rock formations seem to have dropped from the sky, appearing to defy gravity and importantly, are sacred to the traditional owners – the Warumungu people.
Relax with dinner and a night cap
Head back to the Devils Marbles Hotel tonight to enjoy a meal at their restaurant. Be sure to check out their bar and indulge in a night cap before bed.
Hit the road for Tennant Creek
Hit the road early and head to Tennant Creek – an hour’s drive away. The town has a fascinating gold mining and cattle droving history that visitors can experience first-hand on a tour. It’s a town that truly represents the real outback Australia. Apart from there being lots to learn about the Central Australian town, there’s also plenty to see and do.
Step back in time to the gold rush
If you’re feeling lucky, Battery Hill Mining Centre is the place you want to go, where you can noodle for your own gold. Learn about the outback gold rush of the 1930s and get a glimpse of what it was like living in Tennant Creek during the era.
Check out the world-class minerals display and the museum display ‘Freedom, Fortitude and Flies’, which looks at social life at the goldfields throughout that time. Join an underground mining tour where you’ll get to see the machinery in action, as well as the Gold Stamp Battery, which has been fully restored and operates during tours. You can also check out the Borella Exhibit and learn the story of Albert Borella, the NT’s only Victoria Cross recipient.
Lunch by the lake
Relax with lunch today down at the popular man-made lake, Tingkkarli/Lake Mary Ann. This spot is a cool oasis 5km north of Tennant Creek and provides a great area for swimming or canoeing. Check out one of the walking paths around the lake, one of which winds its way through the beautiful Honeymoon Ranges.
Take a drive to the historical Telegraph Station
Drop into one of the local bakeries or cafés for breakfast before making your way to the Tennant Creek Telegraph Station. The historic building played a significant role in the late 1800s when the Overland Telegraph Line was being constructed, and provided a refuge for linesmen and travellers alike from the harsh surrounds. If you want to explore inside the historic buildings, make sure you ask for the key from the Battery Hill Mining Centre.
Picnic at sunset
Take a picnic with you to watch sunset at the nearby Kunjarra/The Pebbles, known as the smaller relatives of the Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles. The changing colours of the boulders as the sun sets are a sight to behold. Watch the colours vary from a glowing red and orange to a deep purple and grey as the sun fades over the horizon.
For dinner there are plenty of options, including tasty Asian menus, pizzas, meet up with locals at the Sporties or Memo Clubs, or cook up a BBQ under the stars.
Immerse yourself in Aboriginal art & culture
Give yourself plenty of time to immerse yourself in local Aboriginal art and culture today with a visit to the Nyinkka Nyunyu Art & Culture Centre. Here you can learn all about bush tucker and traditional medicines, as well as about Aboriginal life and history in the Tennant Creek region. To gain a deeper insight into Warumungu culture, book a locally-guided tour through Nyinkka Nyunyu, which takes you through arid zone gardens, interpreting plants and the landscapes of the region.
Panaramic views at Bill Allen Lookout
In the afternoon, travel only 5 minutes out of town to take in the sweeping 360° panoramic view of Tennant Creek at the Bill Allen Lookout. Read the plaques to learn about significant local sites as the day turns to dusk.
For dinner, there are plenty of food options in Tennant Creek including bistro-style meals and tasty Asian menus, pizzas and, or cook your own BBQ under the stars.
Looking to spend more time in the Barkly region area? Check out the Tennant Creek 7-day itinerary.
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