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Camping around Tennant Creek

Pitch a tent in one of Tennant Creek’s remote bush camping sites and experience the incredible peace and solitude of Australia’s Outback.

The Tennant Creek and Barkly Region is home to some of the most stunning and remote Australian landscapes, making it ideal for camping. From desert to range lands and unexpected waterholes, the Barkly is full of hidden delights.

Camp right next to the Karlu Karlu Devils Marbles to enjoy the spectacular sunrise and sunset over the domes formed from millions of years of erosion.

Head into town and stay at one of the friendly caravan parks or camp at some historic spots that played an important role in the settlement of the Northern Territory.

Perhaps you’d rather go further afield and get deep into the remote bush and roll out a swag in the Davenport Ranges. You won’t be disappointed by the incredible landscape and the many species of native wildlife found here.

Best time to go camping in Tennant Creek

The best time to camp in Tennant Creek is during the cooler months (April to September). The days are warmer and the nights can be quite cold, sometimes dropping below zero degrees, so make sure you’re rugged up.

During the hotter months (October to March) it’s best to take shelter as days are very hot, there can be flies and there’s the potential for flooding in some parts of the Barkly after heavy rain.

If you plan to camp between October and March, be prepared for days up to and above 40 degrees.

Can I camp for free in Tennant Creek?

There are several free camping options on the outskirts of Tennant Creek. As with the rest of the Northern Territory, roadside camping is allowed only in designated spots.

While there’s no charge at these campsites, you’re expected to keep the area clean and tidy and take your rubbish with you.

Attack Creek Historical Reserve Rest Stop

Just 72 kilometres north of Tennant Creek, Attack Creek Historical Reserve Rest Stop commemorates where explorer John McDouall Stuart – whom the Stuart Highway is named after – stopped his 1860 expedition to cross Australia after encountering the local Warumungu people.

The rest stop is just off the highway, but there’s plenty of shaded parking and facilities include toilets, bins and shelters. Fires aren’t allowed and this is monitored by the nearby ranger station.

Check out the history in the area or just take a rest from the road.

41 Mile Bore Rest Area

Head 120 kilometres west from the Barkly Homestead Roadhouse, or 70 kilometres east from Three Ways on the Barkly Highway, and you’ll find the 41 Mile Bore Rest Area. This is a very basic campsite designed for short stays with shade, non-drinking water and bins. There’s plenty of room for caravans and motorhomes.

Bonney Well

Almost 90 kilometres south of Tennant Creek is the Bonney Well Rest Stop. It’s the location of a government-built stock well which has been used to serve overland cattle and sheep expeditions since the late 1800s.

Overnight camping is allowed here and facilities include shelters, BBQs, picnic tables and water.

Bonney Well is just a 10-minute drive from the world-famous Devils Marbles.

Are permits required to camp in Tennant Creek?

Designated campsites around Tennant Creek don’t require a permit to enter. If you’re planning to camp in a national park outside of a designated campsite or bushwalk overnight, you’ll need to apply for a permit.

If you’re entering Aboriginal land that isn’t within a national park, you need a written permit from the Central Land Council. These are approved on a case-by-case basis and cover activities such as entering Aboriginal land or waters for any purpose, travelling by private road on Aboriginal land or entering an Aboriginal community.

Camping under the stars in Tennant Creek

There’s no better place to camp under the stars than Tennant Creek. This region is quite remote with very little cloud cover, and limited artificial lighting making it a perfect location for stargazing.

Try to pitch a tent or setup a swag during the cooler months from April to September. This is when you’ll find camping under the stars most comfortable and enjoyable.

Camping near swimming holes in Tennant Creek

In case you were wondering, no, crocodiles don’t live as far south as Tennant Creek. However, it’s important that you pay attention to all signs near waterholes. There may be other hazards in the water.

The Old Police Station Waterhole in the Davenport Ranges National Park is a 250-kilometre drive from Tennant Creek and is the closest permanent swimming hole where you can camp.

Lake Mary Ann, just north of Tennant Creek, is a beautiful oasis in the desert, large enough for swimming and canoeing but has no camping facilities nearby.

Where to camp near Tennant Creek

There are a couple of campgrounds near Tennant Creek perfect for a few nights in the Outback. There’s limited facilities so you’ll need to be self-sufficient.

Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles

Located 100 kilometres south of Tennant Creek are the world-famous Devils Marbles, home to some of the most important stories of local Aboriginal people. The site is accessible by a sealed road a short drive from the highway and includes several walks giving panoramic views of the area.

The campground is a simple bush camp for tents, trailers and caravans with a cost of $3.30 per person per night payable in the honesty box. Facilities include BBQs, picnic area, long-drop toilet and information signs. Pets aren’t allowed in the campground but are welcome in the day-use car park.

Time your travel so you can take in the incredible sunset and sunrise and watch the marbles change colour. You can get up close to the marbles but please don’t climb them.

Old Police Station Waterhole and Whistleduck Creek

Located in Iytwelepenty (Davenport Ranges National Park) and home to a number of species of water birds due to the extensive network of permanent waterholes, Old Police Station Waterhole and Whistleduck Creek are stunning campgrounds.

The campgrounds are accessible only by 4WD, but the road may be closed after heavy rain. There’s basic camping facilities available at a cost of $3.30 per person per night with wood-fire BBQs, a picnic area, long-drop toilet and fire pits.

A range of 4WD tracks are nearby for the adventurous driver.

Serviced campgrounds around Tennant Creek

There’s a number of welcoming campgrounds and holiday parks in the Tennant Creek and Barkly Region, just waiting to show you some bush hospitality.

Tennant Creek Caravan Park

Within town, the Tennant Creek caravan park is close to all of Tennant Creek’s main attractions.

The park has shaded and grassy powered sites from $32 and unpowered sites from $30. Facilities include a camp kitchen with fridge, shaded swimming pool, coin-operated laundry, gas refills and BBQs. The park is pet-friendly.

Local restaurants and takeaways are within walking distance and the Memorial Club has a courtesy bus that’ll drop you home after dinner.

Wycliffe Well Caravan Park

Welcoming travellers for over a century, Wycliffe Well has a fascinating history. It served as a rest stop on the Overland Telegraph Line stock route, a market garden for soldiers during World War II, and is the self-appointed “UFO capital of the World”.

Powered and unpowered sites are available from $25 per night with more than 260 sites available. Cabins and motel rooms are also available if you want to upgrade.

Facilities on site include toilets and showers with wheelchair access, dump points, laundry, camp kitchen, BBQs, TV and Wi-Fi. The on-site restaurant, bar, petrol station, convenience store and souvenir shop will cover all your needs.

Go fishing at Lake Wycliffe, enjoy the stunning sunset or look out for a UFO.

Outback Caravan Park

Also in Tennant Creek is the Outback Caravan Park a tropical oasis in the middle of the desert. Offering powered and unpowered sites that are extra long to keep your caravan hitched, the park facilities include an amenities block, laundry, free Wi-Fi, swimming pool, BBQs and camp kitchen.

There’s a convenience store on site that sells supplies as well as fuel and LPG gas refills. The park is pet friendly by prior arrangement and is close to the Visitor Information Centre and Lake Mary Ann.

Devils Marbles Hotel

Just 8 kilometres from the Devils Marbles is its namesake hotel. Offering powered and unpowered caravan sites as well as tent and swag camping. You can spend a night here from as little as $10 per person.

Facilities include a camp kitchen, laundry, bathrooms, drinking water and BBQs as well as a shop, and fully licensed restaurant and beer garden.

Banka Banka Station

On the Stuart Highway, 100 kilometres north of Tennant Creek is Banka Banka Station. It was the first operational pastoral lease in the area and a supply camp during World War II.

Offering powered sites from $40 per night and unpowered sites from $25 per night, camping is available for everyone from tents and swags right through to campervans and big rigs. Facilities on site include drinking water, a communal fire pit, camp kitchen, hot showers and toilets.

A licensed bar is open daily at the historic mudbrick homestead. Just 500 metres away is a bush swimming hole, perfect for a dip. There’s no phone reception on site but there’s plenty of friendly donkeys to chat to.

Threeways Roadhouse and Tourist Park

Drive 17 minutes north along the Stuart Highway from Tennant Creek and you’ll get to the Threeways Roadhouse and Tourist Park.

Powered and unpowered sites are available from $32 and $15 per night respectively, with motel rooms also available. Facilities on site include toilets and showers, laundry, swimming pool, BBQ area and a camp kitchen. The park is pet-friendly if your animal is on a lead.

Outback Australian meals are served in the dining hall with a cold beverage available from the bar.

Renner Springs Desert Inn

If you’re headed north from Tennant Creek, the Renner Springs Desert Inn is a great stop on your way to Daly Waters, Mataranka or Katherine.

Powered sites are available from $20 per person with unpowered sites available from $17. Facilities include BBQ, bathroom block with hot and cold water, and fresh drinking water from an underground spring. There’s Optus phone reception and a bar, restaurant and petrol station with a small shop for supplies.

There’s plenty of bird watching to do around the walking trails. Head 5 kilometres south to Lubra’s Lookout to get a panoramic view of the area.

Camping at events in Tennant Creek

While Tennant Creek is remote, there are plenty of events held around the town. Highlights include exhibitions and events run by Barkly Arts as well as the Tennant Creek Races, Desert Harmony Festival, Barkly Rodeo and Campdraft, Brunette Downs Races and the Tennant Creek Show.

Any of the camping areas in the region will give you good access to these events.

Camping near Tennant Creek – at a glance

Powered Sites

Permit Required

Accessibility

Toilets

Drinking Water

BBQs

Swimming

Attack Creek Historical Reserve Rest Stop

No

No

2WD

Yes

No

No

No

41 Mile Bore Rest Area

No

No

2WD

No

No

No

No

Bonney Well

No

No

2WD

No

No

Yes

No

Karlu-Karlu Devils Marbles

No

No

2WD

Yes

No

No

No

Old Police Station Waterhole

No

No

4WD

Yes

No

Yes

No

Tennant Creek Caravan Park

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Wycliffe Well Caravan Park

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Outback Caravan Park

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Devils Marbles Hotel

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Banka Banka Station

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes – bush swimming hole

Threeways Roadhouse and Tourist Park

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Renner Springs Desert Inn

Yes

No

2WD

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Hire camping equipment for Tennant Creek

Unfortunately there aren’t any equipment hire companies in Tennant Creek, so it’s best to hire camping equipment in Alice Springs. You can rent everything you need for camping through Nomadic Camping Hire.

Join a camping tour in Tennant Creek

The camping tours that visit the Tennant Creek & Barkly Region are all operated out of Alice Springs, Darwin or Adelaide and pass through Tennant Creek as part of their itinerary.

To find a camping tour that suits your itinerary, check out:

Camping guidelines

It’s important that when you go camping, you keep the environment in great condition, respect all cultural artefacts and wildlife, and keep yourself and your friends and family safe.

Rubbish

Make use of the bins provided at your campsite. If there are none, take the rubbish with you and find a roadside stop or shelter with bins provided.

Firewood

Fires aren’t permitted to be lit in any national park except in designated areas within campgrounds.

Firewood mustn’t be collected from inside national parks unless it’s signed as a designated area. Firewood can be purchased from hardware stores or camping supply stores in Tennant Creek or Alice Springs. Bringing firewood into a national park from other sources is a potential biosecurity hazard.

Pets

Pets aren’t allowed in national parks. Exemptions are available for guide dogs, hearing dogs and assistance dogs kept on a leash of no more than 3 metres long.

Each campground has its own rules about pets staying on their site so it’s best to check with them first. If you’re camping in a pet-friendly campground but heading into a national park for the day, you can negotiate with a fellow camper to swap dog-minding duties. Dogs shouldn’t be left in campgrounds on their own.

Road safety

If you’re driving, make sure you understand the challenges of driving in remote locations and stay safe on our roads.

Heat safety

The Territory can get hot, even in the cooler months. To keep yourself safe and comfortable you should:

  • plan any walks for early in the day
  • check the temperature range before leaving
  • wear light-coloured protective clothing and sun protection including hats, sunglasses and sunscreen with SPF 30
  • take plenty of rests in the shade
  • drink at least one litre of water per hour when you’re outside
  • take snacks with you to keep your energy up – fruit and energy bars are ideal
  • avoid alcohol or sugary drinks.

As with all outdoor activities, make sure you plan your route for rest breaks and drink stops, and tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.

Camping around Tennant Creek

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