Northern TerritoryTennant Creek & Barkly RegionDiscover Tennant Creek's gold mining history.
The surrounding region, the Barkly Tablelands, is characterised by wide plains and vast skies, and with a population of 3,000, Tennant Creek is the main service centre for the area. Located 507 kilometres north of Alice Springs and around 1,000 kilometres south of Darwin, the town has a diverse history, shaped by Aboriginal culture, pastoralism and gold mining. The site of Australia’s last major gold rush in the 1930s, Tennant Creek’s rich mining history can be explored in the Battery Hill Mining Centre. The Nyinkka Nyunyu Art and Culture Centre is an award-winning museum and gallery showcasing the culture of the traditional Aboriginal owners of the area, the Warumungu people. Travellers can stop at a character-filled outback pub or roadhouse for an insight into a unique lifestyle shaped by isolation. Enjoy a swim in Tingkkarli / Lake Mary Ann, explore the historic Overland Telegraph Line, built in 1872, and spend a couple of star-filled nights in Tennant Creek area for a truly unique Territory experience. The mysterious rock spheres of the nearby Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve, located 100 kilometres south of Tennant Creek, are one of the Outback’s iconic attractions.
Explore the Barkly Tablelands
The vast Barkly Tablelands stretch east of Tennant Creek into Queensland and, at more than 280,000 square kilometres, cover about 20 per cent of the Territory's landmass. The Barkly is known for its golden grasslands and wide blue skies that give it that distinctive sense of the space and freedom of the outback. Vast cattle stations are located on the Tablelands, some as large as European countries, and this region is well known for the epic cattle drives of yesteryear that passed through en route to Queensland. One of the biggest events on this region's calendar is the Brunette Downs Races, a bush race meet held in June on a station 350 kilometres northeast of Tennant Creek. Visitors fly in from all over Australia for the four-day bush race meet that has a distinct outback flavour. The Barkly Homestead at the junction of the Barkly and Tablelands highways is the only service centre in the tablelands and provides a welcome respite on the long drive to or from Queensland.
Stroll Tennant Creek
From its humble beginnings as a gold rush and cattle town, Tennant Creek has grown into a flourishing regional centre of around 3500 people. Located along the Stuart Highway 500 kilometres north of Alice Springs, the town has a number of interesting attractions and is the main service centre for the surrounding Barkly Tablelands and its sprawling cattle stations. Tennant Creek's gold rush of the 1930s was the last in Australia's history, and at one time it was the third-largest gold producer in the country. Visitors can take a tour through an underground mine at the Battery Hill Mining Centre and even fossick for your own gold to take home. Built in 1872, the Tennant Creek Telegraph Station is a collection of historic stone buildings. It was part of the Overland Telegraph Line that linked Australia with the outside world. The station is 11 kilometres north of town and has a self-guided walk with interpretative signage that explains the region's telegraph communications and pastoral history. The station is particularly beautiful just before sunset when the golden light for which the region is known lights up the stone walls. The town's colourful history is also on show at Tuxworth-Fullwood Museum. Originally built by the Army in 1942 as a bush hospital, the museum has a range of exhibits, including a 1930s police cell, steam traction engine, a reconstruction of a miner's camp and early photographs of the town and its people. Tennant Creek's award-winning Nyinkka Nyunyu Art and Cultural Centre provides a fantastic insight into the strong Aboriginal history and culture of this region. Local arts and crafts are on display and can be purchased from the centre, which is run by the local traditional owners. Tingkkarli/Lake Mary Ann, 5 kilometres from the township, is a lovely place for a swim and a picnic. There are barbecue facilities, bushwalking tracks and wildlife watching areas, and the reserve can be reached via a walking/bike path that leaves town and winds through the Honeymoon Ranges.
Marvel at the beauty of Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles
Discover ancient granite boulders that seem to have dropped from the wide blue skies of the Barkly Tablelands, 95 kilometres south of Tennant Creek. Wander around Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles where you will find boulders that are precariously balanced and defying gravity, scattered across a wide, shallow valley. The Devils Marbles are a sacred site known as Karlu Karlu in the language of the traditional owners the Warumungu people. Formed over millions of years, they continue to crack and erode making for a unique view each time you visit. Take your time to explore the region's most famous landmark. Follow the walkways and learn via the information boards how the granite formations have withstood the eroding forces of wind and rain, unlike the surrounding sandstone. The fascinating geological marvel can be explored through a short self-guided walking trail with informative signage. The Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve offers a scenic bush camping area with fireplaces. Stay the night to ensure you're there at sunset, the most dramatic time to experience the area.
Learn the history behind Attack Creek Historical Reserve
The Attack Creek Memorial is situated on the Attack Creek Historical Reserve, located on the Stuart Highway 74 kilometres north of Tennant Creek. The memorial recalls that 'On 25 June 1860 John McDouall Stuart and his two companions William Kekwick and Benjamin Head reached Attack Creek the most northerly point of that expedition. Hostile natives and illness forced the party to return'. A short walk down the creek from the monument you can see where the old Stuart Highway once ran to the east of the current road.
Embrace indigenous art at Nyinkka Nyunyu
Nyinkka Nyunyu (pronounced ny-ink-a ny-oo ny-oo) is a fascinating art centre/gallery and culture museum, which provides visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in local Warumungu culture, to learn about Aboriginal life, history and land in the Tennant Creek region. Located on Warumungu land, on the main street of Tennant Creek, the precinct includes the sacred site of the Nyinkka (spiky tailed goanna). Surrounding the sacred site are arid-zone gardens featuring local bush tucker and bush medicine plants. A visit through the museum shares uses of these plants, along with a selection of dioramas handcrafted by Warumungu artists to reflect their rich and diverse history. Museum entry includes an audio tour which also takes you out through the aridzone gardens, interpreting the plants and the landscape through Aboriginal eyes. Follow your tour with a relaxing visit to Jajjikari Cafe, renowned for good coffee, then browse the local artwork, crafts, books and CDs in the retail area. One of the key benefits of a visit to our Centre is the chance to mingle with knowledgeable local Warumungu, who will take the time for a chat with you. We welcome you to learn about our ways, and look forward to meeting you!
Discover more in Northern Territory
- Alice Springs & Surrounds
- Arnhem Land
- Darwin & Surrounds
- Kakadu & Surrounds
- Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles Conservation
- Kata Tjuta / The Olgas
- Katherine & Surrounds
- Kings Canyon
- Litchfield National Park
- Mary River
- Mt Borradaile
- Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge)
- Tennant Creek & Barkly Region
- Uluru & Surrounds