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.