Tennant Creek

Midway by road between Alice Springs and Darwin, Tennant Creek is known as the Territory’s heart of gold; a reference to the friendliness of its people and the area’s gold mining history.

Where is it?: 995 km south of Darwin, 503 km north of Alice Springs on the Stuart Highway, 26 km south of the junction of the Stuart and Barkly Highways.

The town’s goldmining history remains, and is captured at sites around the town such as the Battery Hill Mining Centre (1.5 km east). This mining heritage complex houses extensive displays on the town's mines and the surrounding Barkly region.

The National Trust property, Tuxworth-Fullwood House, was constructed during World War II as a troop hospital. Today it houses an archive of local photographs, memorabilia and a vast collection of mining era artifacts.

The Australian Inland Mission Church was built in 1934. It survives as a fine example of the 'Sydney Williams' style.

Tennant Creek Social History Museum documents the history of this historic mining town. McLaughlin Minerals Collection, housed in the original tin building of the Battery Hill site, is home to a collection of mineral samples from all over the world.

The oldest living culture on earth is showcased at the Nyinkka Nyunyu Aboriginal Art & Culture Centre. Displays include local art, artifacts and examples of both bush tucker and bush medicine.

Surrounding area

The surrounding region has numerous places of interest for travellers including the Attrack Creek Historical Site (74 km north).

The Pebbles (96 km north) are granite boulders, the smaller relatives of the Karlu Karlu (Devils Marbles). Known to the Warumungu Aboriginal people as Kunjarra, The Pebbles are a sacred site and women’s dancing place for the Munga Munga Dreaming.

Threeways Roadhouse and Tourist Park (24 km north) sits at the junction of the Stuart and Barkly Highways. There is a memorial nearby to Rev. John Flynn, founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Banka Banka (100 km north) was the first operational pastoral lease in this region, and a supply camp during World War II. The station offers visitors an outback experience and hosts a grassed campground with amenities.

The John Flynn memorial, at the junction of the Stuart and Barkly Highways (26 km north), is one of many in the Northern Territory dedicated to John Flynn (1880-1951), founder of an airborne medical service providng emergency and primary health care to people living in Australia's Outback.

Tenant Creek homestead (11km north east) incroporates the old stone telegraph repeater station (built 1871). The station stands beside the seasonal creek which gave the town its name. The creek was named after John Tennant who helped fund the initial exploration journeys of John McDouall Stuart.

Mary Ann Dam is a popular recreation spot, easily accessible from town by road or bicycle track and popular for swimming, barbecues, picnics or bush walks.

Bill Allen Lookout, 2 km past the Battery Hill Mining Centre, offers clear 360 degree panoramic views of Tennant Creek and the surrounding countryside.

A number of national parks and conservation and historical reserves make for great adventures in and around Tennant Creek. Visit for a day or, where available, set up camp and stay in these places of cultural significance, diverse wildlife and spectacular landscapes.

The Devils Marbles (Karlu Karlu) rock formation (104 km south) are a collection of massive granite boulders strewn across a valley south of Tennant Creek. Standing at up to 6 metres high and formed over millions of years, they continue to crack and change. The mythology of the local Warmungu Aboriginal people declare the boulders to be the fossilised eggs of the Rainbow Serpent. Wander around the site along the network of informal walking tracks. Here you'll find many species of local plants and animals and the large clumps of rocks create a variety of miniature refuges and sheltered environments for wildlife such as fairy martins and spiny-tailed goannas.

Spend a day out in the Davenport Ranges, which mark the boundary between the traditional lands of the Warumungu, Alyawarre and Kaytetye people. Their traditional connections with the land are strong and many artefacts can still be found in the area today.  Campers, nature lovers and 4WD enthusiasts will love the abundant four-wheel drive tracks, camping and picnic facilities, as well as walking trails and swimming spots. The area is an important refuge for fauna, especially water birds, owing to the extensive network of waterholes.


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Barkly Tableland

Tennant Creek is the hub of the sprawling Barkly Tableland, vast elevated plains of black soil with golden Mitchell grass, that cover more than 240,000 square kilometres. The Tableland runs east from Tennant Creek towards the Queensland border and is among the most important cattle grazing areas in the Northern Territory.

Roughly the same size as the United Kingdom or New Zealand, the region consists largely of open grass plains and some of the world’s largest cattle stations. It runs as far south as Barrow Creek, north above Elliott and west into the Tanami Desert. Hardy stockmen once drove their cattle along the tablelands' endless stock routes not so long ago. Road trains have taken over the droving, but the same plucky characters still work the cattle today.

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