Tennant Creek & Barkly Region7-day itinerary
With a whole week in the Barkly Tablelands, take your time discovering the cultural significance of the region at Nyinkka Nyunyu Art and Culture Centre, walk around the peculiar rock formations of Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles located along the Stuart Highway and travel further with a 4WD adventure into the Davenport Ranges.
This itinerary will take on a return journey from Alice Springs through to Tennant Creek in the Barkly region.
Get set for your Central Australian Adventure
Rise early and get ready to embark on your great Central Australian adventure. If you’re a camper, make sure you pack the essentials or hire camping equipment from Alice Springs. Not a camper? No worries! There’s a range of accommodation options along the way that will suit every comfort level.
Selfie stop at the Tropic of Capricorn marker
Day one and it’s time to hit the road. Travelling north, take a quick look at the Tropic of Capricorn monument, just 30km outside of Alice Springs. Check out the unique marker which was designed by a local Alice Springs man to mark Australia’s Bicentenary.
Journey to the centre of Australia
Your next stop is Central Mount Stuart Historical Reserve. Stretch your legs – you’re now standing in the centre of Australia! Enjoy the desert views before continuing your journey.
Take a short detour to the Arlpwe Art and Culture Centre
Take a detour off the Stuart Highway to Ali Curung, approximately 21km from the main road. Here you will find the Arlpwe Art and Culture Centre which comprises a gallery space and studio. Meet the artists at work in the centre to learn about their stories and techniques, and wander through the gallery to admire finished artworks. All work is for sale and is provided with a certificate of authenticity.
Decide whether the truth is out there at Wycliffe Well
Continue north on the Stuart Highway and make one more stopover at Wycliffe Well before your final destination for the day. Wycliffe Well is a unique wayside inn famed for its frequent UFO sightings and is home to the peculiar desert crab. Hang out in the roadhouse and enjoy some refreshments as you read about the details of paranormal encounters across the shop walls. It’s the perfect place to pick up a souvenir or 2.
Check into the Devils Marbles Hotel
Finally, make your way north to the Devils Marbles Hotel, just a 12-minute (18km) drive from Wycliffe Well. Remember to book ahead to secure a room, caravan site or a grassy spot in the campground. Chill out in the beer garden or head to the hotel restaurant which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Bask in a sunrise at the Devils Marbles
Just before sunrise, make your way to the Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Area to witness a spectacular Central Australian sunrise over the mysterious giant boulders. These ancient rock formations seem to have dropped from the skies, appearing to defy gravity. Karlu Karlu has large cultural significance to the traditional owners of the area.
Hit the road for Tennant Creek
From Karlu Karlu, Tennant Creek is only an hour’s drive away. The town has a rich gold mining and cattle droving history and has been shaped by its strong Aboriginal culture. It’s a town that truly represents the real outback Australia.
Lunch by the water at Tingkkarli/Lake Mary Ann
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 is a great area for swimming or canoeing. If you’re feeling active, check out one of the walking paths around the lake, one of which winds its way through the beautiful Honeymoon Ranges.
Sweeping views at Bill Allen Lookout
In the afternoon, take in a 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. This is the perfect spot to sit and watch an iconic Tennant Creek sunset. Check into your accommodation tonight and wind down for the evening. There are plenty options to choose from, from motel-style rooms, to cabins and caravan parks.
Relive the gold rush era at Battery Hill Mining Centre
Check out one of the local takeaways or cafés for breakfast before making your way to Battery Hill Mining Centre. Learn about the outback gold rush of the 1930s and get a glimpse of what it was like living in Tennant Creek during that era. Check out the world-class minerals display and the museum display ‘Freedom, Fortitude and Flies’, which looks at social life on the goldfields throughout that time. Join an underground mining tour where you’ll see the machinery in action, as well as the Gold Stamp Battery, which has been fully restored and operates during tours.
Bush tucker tour at Nyinkka Nyunya Art & Culture Centre
Immerse yourself in local Aboriginal art and culture this afternoon 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.
As you wind up your tour, relax with afternoon tea at the on-site café, which is well known for its great food and coffee. Check out local arts and crafts on sale in the retail area and take a piece of Central Australia home with you. For dinner, there’s plenty of food options in Tennant Creek including tasty Asian menus, pizzas and bistro-style meals, or cook your own BBQ under the stars.
Take your pick for tonight’s rest
Check into your accommodation and wind down for the evening. There are plenty of accommodation options to choose from, from motel-style rooms, to cabins and caravan parks.
Walk around the historic buildings at the Telegraph Station
After breakfast, head north to the Tennant Creek Telegraph Station just outside of town, to take the self-guided walk around the reserve’s historic buildings. Learn about the remote refuge, which was once an important supply point for travellers and a base for those working on the telegraph line from Adelaide to Darwin. Make the time to stop at the nearby Kunjarra/The Pebbles, known as the smaller relatives of the Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles, this is a women’s sacred site.
Take a drive to Connells Lagoon Conservation Reserve
For your next adventure, accessible by 2WD, make your way to Connells Lagoon Conservation Reserve – 423km east of Tennant Creek – an unexpected wildlife haven that sits between Brunette Downs and Alexandria Station via an unsealed road. Home to several of Australia’s rare and endangered birds including the flock bronzewing pigeon, pictorella mannikin finch, red-chested button-quail and the Australian bustard. The grass plains are known to inhabit large numbers of bird species, reptiles and mammals. It’s the only reserve in Australia established primarily for the conservation of Mitchell grassland.
Stay overnight at Barkly Homestead
Stay overnight at the Barkly Homestead, situated on the Barkly Highway, the remote roadhouse offers motel rooms, cabins and a large camping and caravan area to park up for a small fee.
Day 5 (4WD option)
4WD option to the Davenport Ranges
For the 4WD enthusiasts, tackle some of the Northern Territory’s 4WD tracks in Davenport Range National Park, 2–3 hours east of Tennant Creek and one of the Territory’s best-kept secrets. Spot black-footed rock wallabies, emus and hundreds of waterbirds that flock to the permanent waterholes in the 1,120km2 reserve. It’s peaceful and beautiful, with plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. Make sure to take plenty of supplies.Whistleduck Campground is relatively basic, but has essential amenities, and is about 1km from the first major waterhole, Irrmweng Rockhole. Just a few hundred metres further upstream is the divine Injaidan Rockhole.
Spend an extra night in Tennant Creek at a farmstay
For those who don’t have a 4WD, opt to spend a night at Spinifex Ridge Farm Stay outside of Tennant Creek or drive directly to Gemtree Caravan and Tourist Park and stay for 2 nights to make the most of the activities in the area.
See the Big Man in Aileron
As you make your way back to Alice Springs, another stopover that’s a must is Aileron – known for its ‘Big Man’ statue. Worth the visit is Ryan’s Well Historical Reserve. The well was – incredibly – hand-dug in 1889 to supply water to travellers and stock along the overland Telegraph line.
Try the fossicking tour at Gemtree Caravan and Tourist Park
For those seeking comfortable accommodation with a friendly camping vibe, head to the Gemtree Caravan and Tourist Park, approximately 5 hours (510km) from Tennant Creek. Weekend camp oven dinners, served to you at lantern-lit tables are a popular edition to the activities offered followed by light entertainment – and for bushwalkers and birdwatchers, the 3.5km self-guided nature trail will help you stretch those legs.
The Gemtree Fossicking Tour is a must for any visitor. The park offers a quiet, spacious bush setting with modern clean amenities. Gemtree has a choice of accommodation options to suit your needs. Bookings are essential.
Kick back in Alice Springs
Alice Springs is your final destination today. Kick back with a drink tonight at one of the popular restaurants in town and reminisce about a great week experiencing some of the best outback experiences of Central Australia.
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