A journey from Alice Springs to Tennant Creek, and onwards to Newcastle Waters follows in the footsteps of a quarter of a million servicemen and women who travelled through this arid terrain to defend Australia in WWII.
The town of Tennant Creek grew in response to gold mining in the area in the 1930s. By 1935 some 600 prospectors were working on the goldfields and by 1937 the towns gold production valued at £85,000 accounted for two thirds of the Northern Territory’s total gold output.
Tennant Creek was declared out of bounds to military personnel in late 1941 when the authorities became concerned about potential altercations between Tennant Creek’s mining community and servicemen. In September 1942 all licensed premises along the highway were made out of bounds to service personnel.
The Army established a series of Australian General Hospitals across the Territory, including the 55 Australian Camp Hospital in Tennant Creek. The former buildings of the hospital were later named Tuxworth Fullwood House for two local identities and are entered in the Northern Territory Heritage Register. Another site of wartime significance is the Central Gold Battery Mining Museum which holds a display about Albert Chalmers Borella, the Northern Territory’s only Victoria Cross recipient, the highest award for valour in combat, awarded in 1918.