The Glen Helen Homestead is emblematic of the complex problems of 19th century pastoralism in Central Australia including initial contact with Aboriginal people.
The remnants of the original homestead are a complex of bush-crafted structures and are historically significant as a reminder of a way of life no longer practised in Central Australia. The site, design and construction of the homestead reflect the simple and limited choices available to pioneer pastoralists who had to use natural and unreliable water and secure cattle and horses without fencing in the face of increasing and justifiable hostility from Aborigines.
With very few tools, pastoralists had to construct a homestead, outbuildings and yards using the limited resources of stone, timber and reeds in the area. The pastoral firm Grant and Stokes appointed Richard Warburton, a well known explorer, as their agent to acquire suitable country in the headwaters of the Finke River as part of their expansion into the Territory. In 1875 Warburton was granted various tracts of land that still form the nucleus of Glen Helen Station.
By 1884 there were 1500 head of stock, but over the next decade the property was abandoned because of drought, recession and lack of markets.