Do the Red Centre - discoveraustralia.com
Devils Marbles Banner

TENNANT CREEK & BARKLY REGION SEVEN DAY ITINERARY

 

ITten7

Set out on a Central Australian road trip along the Explorers Way and head to Australia’s heart of gold, Tennant Creek. With a whole week in the Barkly Tablelands, you will have time to get in touch with your inner stockman and go horseback riding, discover the ancient rock formations, and perhaps even strike it rich panning for rare gems. Explore mines, stop at Aboriginal arts and cultural centres and watch the sunset over the mysterious Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles.

DAY 1

Rise early this morning, ready to embark on your great Central Australian adventure. This itinerary will take you from Alice Springs, all the way up to Elliott, so make sure you pack your tent or swag if you want to make the most of some great camping opportunities. If you don’t have equipment of your own, visit one of the businesses in Alice Springs who will hire you everything you will need. Not a camper? No worries! There are a range of accommodation options along the way that will suit every comfort level. It’s time to hit the road. Travelling north, today’s first stopover is the Tropic of Capricorn, just 30 kilometres 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.

Back on the road, continue north, bound for today’s final destination, the Gemtree Caravan and Tourist Park. Just 140km north-east of Alice Springs, Gemtree is a true oasis in the mulga country and is a gateway to the Central Australian gem fields.

Arrive in time to join a Fossicking Tour to try your luck at finding your own gems, and have them appraised on-site by experts. If you would like to stretch your legs and further explore the area, Gemtree has 250 acres of natural bushland for you to enjoy, and is perfect if you would like to head out on one of the many self-guided nature trails, self-guided drive tours or to spend time spotting some of the extensive list of birdlife that call Gemtree home. A set menu is on offer each evening in the Camp oven Kitchen, followed by many entertainment options, including Campfire Karaoke on Sundays, quiz and movie nights and drinks by the pool. Accommodation ranges from air conditioned cabins, on-site caravans to camp sites, however make sure you call ahead to book in, as cabins are very popular during high seasons.

DAY 2

Hit the road again this morning, continuing north along the Stuart Highway. Your first stop over will be Central Mount Stuart Historical Reserve. Stop a while and stretch your legs – you are standing in the dead centre of Australia! Make the most of the photo opportunity and while you are here visit the historical reserve that commemorates John McDouall Stuart’s discovery of the Centre of Australia.

Camping

Enjoy the desert scenery views as you continue your journey. Make a detour to Ali Curung, which isn’t too much further away, just an hour and 25 minutes. Here you will find the Arlpwe Art and Culture Centre which comprises of an Aboriginal Art Gallery, two Art Centres and a Pottery Training Studio. View one of their latest projects, a bush tucker and bush medicine garden. 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.

Continue north and make one more stop over before you reach your final destination tonight, and it’s one you will not want to miss. After approximately 45 kilometres you will come to Wycliffe Well, a very unique outback town and famed for its frequent UFO sightings. Hang out in the roadhouse and enjoy some refreshments as you read about the details of paranormal encounters across the shop walls. It is the perfect place to pick up a souvenir or two.

Drive on to the Wauchope Hotel, where you will stay tonight. Chill out this afternoon at the hotel beer garden or cool off with a dip in the swimming pool. The Wauchope Hotel offers a variety of accommodation options from motel style rooms to caravan and camp sites. Just before sun down tonight make your way to the Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve to witness a spectacular Central Australian sunset over the mysterious giant boulders. 

ITten8

These ancient rock formations seem to have dropped from the skies, appearing to defy gravity. They have a great significance for the Aboriginal people and one of the main Dreaming stories for the area tells that the Devils Marbles are the eggs of the rainbow serpent. Head back to the Wauchope Hotel tonight to enjoy an excellent meal at their restaurant. Be sure to check out their extensive wine cellar and indulge in night cap before bed.

DAY 3

Enjoy a delicious cooked breakfast from the Wauchope Hotel this morning before you hit the road again. Tennant Creek is now only just over an hour drive away. Tennant Creek has a rich gold mining and cattle droving history and has been shaped by its strong Aboriginal culture. It is a town that truly represents the real outback Australia. Apart from there being lots to learn about the Central Australian town, there is also plenty to see and do!

Relax with lunch today down at the popular man-made lake, Tingkkarli (Lake Mary Ann). This spot is a cool oasis just 5 kilometres north of Tennant Creek and provides a great area large enough for swimming or canoeing. If you are feeling active, check out one of the walking paths around the lake, one of which winds its way through the beautiful Honeymoon Ranges.

In the afternoon, take in a sweeping 360-degree 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.

DAY 4

Check out one of the local bakeries or café’s for breakfast this morning before making your way to the Tennant Creek Telegraph Station. The historic building played a significant role in the late 1800’s when the Overland Telegraph Line was being constructed and provided a refuge for linesman and travellers alike from the harsh surrounds. You can obtain a key from the Battery Hill Mining Centre if you would like to explore inside the buildings.

If you are feeling lucky today, Battery Hill Mining Centre is the place you want to go, where you can even noodle for your own gold! Learn all about the outback gold rush of the 1930’s and get a glimpse of what it was like living in Tennant Creek during that era. Check out the world class minerals display and also 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 will get to see the machinery in action, as well as the Gold Stamp Battery, which has been fully restored and operates during tours.

ITten9

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. One of the main highlights is the audio tour which will take you through arid zone gardens, interpreting plants and landscapes through Aboriginal eyes. 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 our local arts & crafts and other great souvenirs on sale in the retail area and take a piece of Central Australia home with you. For dinner tonight, check out the popular Tex’s Schnitzel House at the Eldorado Motor Inn where you will have a choice of 29 different Schnitzels – you will not be disappointed!

DAY 5

Today, get in touch with your inner jillaroo or jackeroo and saddle up for an adventurous horseback ride at Kelly’s Ranch. Your instructor and guide is owner Jerry Kelly, an experienced stockman and local Warumungu man. Sign up for a 1 hour riding lesson, or really get into the swing of things with an iconic two and a half hour trail ride. Jerry will share with you stories about the life of a stockman and hunting bush tucker over a cup of billy tea. Everybody is sure to have a great time, and no prior riding experience is required.

This afternoon, pack a picnic dinner and head north to The Pebbles (Kunjarra) to see the sun set over these mysterious granite boulders. Also known as the smaller relatives of the Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles, this is a sacred site and is where the women’s dancing and healing rites of take place for the Warumumgu people. The changing colours of the boulders as the sun sets are a sight to behold. Enjoy your dinner as you watch the colours vary from a glowing red and orange to a deep purple and grey as the sun fades over the horizon.

ITten10

DAY 6

Today you will embark on a bush camping adventure to Longreach Waterhole near Elliott, just 3 hours north of Tennant Creek. The town itself is smack bang in the middle of the Northern Territory. To get to Longreach Waterhole, turn south west of Stuart Highway 1 kilometre north of Elliott, and then drive 12 kilometres to find the camping area on the bank of Newcastle Waters. Have your camera handy today as the area is a birdwatchers paradise with thousands of birds of many different varieties calling this glorious location home.

Set up your camp ready for the evening, before perching yourself lakeside with a rod and reel and try your luck at catching dinner for tonight. Enjoy your packed dinner tonight while watching a stunning sunset across the glassy waters of the waterhole and raising your glass to a great week of outback adventures.

DAY 7

Pack up your camp this morning, ready for your journey back to Alice Springs. There are still lots of things to see on the way home. Travelling south, make a quick stop at Tennant Creek for some refreshments and to break up your journey.

Continuing south for approx. 2 hours and 45 minutes, you will come to Barrow Creek. Make sure you call in here to visit the beautifully restored Barrow Creek Telegraph Station. It is one of 15 telegraph stations that formed the network from Port Augusta to Port Darwin. Call into the Barrow Creek pub for a bite to eat before continuing your journey. Less than 2 hours down the road you will come to the town of Aileron. A popular spot over the Easter Weekend for its ‘Bush Weekend’ – an action packed rodeo keeping all ages entertained. Also known for its ‘Big Man’ statue you will want to get a picture with before you leave. Also close by, and 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.

Only 1 hour and 45 minutes further south is your final destination for today, Alice Springs. Kick back with a drink tonight at one of the popular restaurants in town and reminisce on a great week experiencing some of the best of Central Australia.