The first substantial European settlement in Central Australia, Arltunga is an historic mining ghost town that has been perfectly preserved by the dryness of the surrounding desert. The settlement is located on the 5 000 hectare Arltunga Historical Reserve.

Location: 111 km east of Alice Springs

Arltunga Visitors and Information Centre has excellent photographs and plenty of information about the early history of the area including detailed descriptions of the mining techniques which were employed in this dry, desert environment.

Points of Interest

White Range; Paddys Rockhole (where gold was first discovered in 1887); Ruby Gap Nature Park; Arltunga Historical Goldfield Reserve, including Police Station and Gaol, the Government Works, the MacDonnell Range Reef gold Mine, the Christmas Reef gold Mine, the Golden Chance Mine, the Joker gold Mine and the Great Western Mine and the White Range Cemetery.

Ruby Gap Nature Park

Ruby Gap is linked to the first mining rush in Central Australia. In March 1886, explorer David Lindsay found what he thought were rubies in the bed of the Hale River. In May 1887 there were over 200 people in the area prospecting for rubies. By then gold had been discovered in Paddy's Rockhole Creek, 45km to the west, which lead to the establishment of the Arltunga Goldfield.

Today, Ruby Gap retains its remoteness, providing some excellent opportunities for bush camping and viewing Central Australia's scenic rugged terrain.


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Brief history

The arrival of miners to the district was sparked in 1887 by South Australian explorer, David Lindsay, who passed through the area on a five week trek from Port Darwin to the South Australian coast. He reported that there appeared to be 'rubies' in the area. Prospectors found Lindsay's rubies to be gold, which sparked a goldrush that exploited the alluvial and reef gold in the early 1890s. The town was deserted soon after but it enjoyed another flurry of activity with the construction of the Government Battery and Cyanide Works in 1896. This kept the town active until about 1916.

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