Pine Creek

A tiny historic town full of buildings and memorabilia relating to the old Ghan railway and overland telegraph. Minerals such as uranium, lead, zinc and silver have been excavated here and high grade iron ore was mined from 1966 to 1985. Mining continues as a major town industry.

Location: 248 km south of Darwin on the Stuart Highway.

Events

Pine Creek holds the Gold Rush Festival annually in June, featuring the local goldpanning championships. The Pine Creek Races are held annually in May at Pussy Cat Flats Racecourse.

Places of Interest

Mary River roadhouse; Water Gardens; Lake Copperfield; Umbrawarra Gorge; fossils of shrimps; Railway Precinct and Museum (1888-89) with a 1877 Beyer Peacock steam locomotive; National Trust Museum (Overland Telegraph Line Repeater Station); Ah Toy's Bakery (1908); Pine Creek Chinatown; Enterprise Pit mine lookout; Miners Park

Around Town

Next door to the Pine Creek Pub is the famous Maysie's Cafe. With decor inspired by 1950s American diners, walls adorned with pictures of classic Hollywood glamour, and the shirt Leonardo De Caprio wore in Romeo and Juliet, this charming little pit-stop serves delicious mango smoothies.

Mine Lookout is accessed via a steep bitumen road close to the centre of town. This lookout gives a panoramic view of the Enterprise Pit which is an open cut mine, now full of water to the depth of 135 meters. It began as the Enterprise Shaft in1906 and was worked intermittently until 1985 when Pine Creek Goldfields developed the open cut mine. During the 10-year life span of the goldfields mine 764,000 ounces of gold were extracted. Old Chinese mine shafts can also be viewed at the top of the lookout. Sunset views are spectacular from this vantage point.

Lake Copperfield is 6km from Pine Creek. It is a cool deep lake, ideal for swimming, with a shady picnic area, toilets and large parking area. No dogs allowed.

Pine Creek Railway Station Museum is located in the original railway station building which was built in 1888 and served as a communications centre until 1976. On display are historic photos’ maps and memorabilia depicting the North Australian Railway. Check locally for opening times, gold coin donation for entry.

Next to the station is the 1877 Beyer Peacock locomotive which is restored as a “Centenary of Federation” project by the Pine Creek Community Government Council, believed to be the oldest restored locomotive in Australia. It operated between Darwin and Pine Creek from 1915 until it was decommissioned in 1945.

The National Trust Museum building in Pine Creek was originally erected on the Goldfields at Burrundie in 1888 and was moved to Pine Creek in 1913. It has been the home of a mining warden, a doctor’s residence, clinic and dispensary. During the war, it was taken over as a military hospital. In the late 1940’s it was used as a post office and telephone exchange.

The building is now an excellent museum of local history and also houses the library which offers public internet access.

Grove Hill Hotel: The Grove hill Historic licensed hotel and museum is located on the old railway line that ran between Larrimah and Darwin. It contains many historic artifacts and is a great place for birdwatchers. It is located on the Northern goldfields Loop which runs between the Stuart Hwy north of Emerald Spring’s and Kakadu Highway south of Pine Creek. Camping and accommodation is available.

The Miners Park at Pine Creek is located next to the Railway Station and the old Station Master’s residence. It houses historic mining machinery from old mines in the Pine Creek area. Interpretive signs and displays give a comprehensive picture of life on the goldfields and the history of mining in the region. It is the venue for the Australia day festivities and local goldpanning championships held each year.


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Northern Goldfield Loop Heritage Trail

A drive which takes you from Pine Creek to Adelaide River, through Grove hill which has a heritage museum and where you can stop for a drink and a bite to eat. The route passes long abandoned and modern open cut mines that follow the Pine Creek Geosynclines’, a giant intrusions of mineral rich ore seams, the erosions of which has resulted in the alluvial gold in this region.

Umbrawarra Gorge

Umbrawarra Gorge Nature Park (3 km south) protects a beautiful isolated gorge with steep red cliffs. A creek meanders through the gorge in the early to mid-dry season. A walking track winds alongside the creek to a large pool with a small sandy beach.

Brief history

In December 1870 a drilling party for the Overland Telegraph Line discovered alluvial gold near Yam Creek. The following year it became the site of one of the Territory's most frenetic goldrushes. The Eleanor Gold Reef was opened in late 1872 and the following year the Union Gold Reef established the area as a major goldfield. The town grew rapidly as a town for the mining activities and the site of an Overland Telegraph Line Repeater Station. Between 1883 and 1889, the the South Australian government built a line from Darwin to Pine Creek as the first stage of the transcontinental railway.

Between Darwin and Pine Creek, a total of 310 bridges and flood openings were built. The first train arrived at Pine Creek in June, 1889. Until the turn of the century, Pine Creek was one of the major centres of the Territory's mining industry. During World War II the town became an important staging camp and after the war some mines were reopened. Minerals such as uranium, iron ore, silver, lead and zinc were sought and Pine Creek became a service centre for over 500 miners.

Origin of name: named after the local creek which was crossed in December 1870 by the teams constructing the Overland Telegraph Line. The creek was notable, as the name suggests, for the many pines on its banks. One of the line workers, Sydney Herbert, noted, 'This creek was by no means large, but was remarkable for the pines growing there'. Ironically, although the town has always been known as Pine Creek it was officially named Playford in 1889. At the time Thomas Playford Sr. was the South Australian Commissioner of Crown Lands. The town continued to be known as Pine Creek in spite of the government's attempt to honour him. It was not officially gazetted as Pine Creek until 20th September 1973.

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