Barrow Creek is a tiny town along the Stuart Highway, about 280km north of Alice Springs. In fact, calling it a town might be a bit of a stretch considering the population is less than 10. On the return journey of his first transcontinental attempt in 1860, John McDouall Stuart named Barrow Creek after a preacher and politician called John Henry Barrow, who was also the current Treasurer of South Australia and a heavy beer drinker.
Twelve years later, the beginnings of a town were brewing due to the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line in 1872. Barrow Creek’s telegraph station was one of twelve between Adelaide and Port Darwin and is now a historical reserve. Unfortunately, it never really grew due to a poor water supply but the pub makes for a decent watering hole.
We stopped at Barrow Creek for a beer and a feed of homemade noodles and fried chicken from the bar. You could tell that the place had been around for decades. The walls of the bar were decorated with various memorabilia such as money, business cards, licenses and passport photos. We also realised that this place was linked to the disappearance of Peter Falconio, a British tourist who vanished in 2001.
Falconio and his girlfriend, Joanne Lees, were travelling along the Stuart Highway at night when they were waved down by a man in his car. The man said their Kombi van looked like it had engine trouble. When Falconio when to the rear of the vehicle to investigate, he was apparently shot and then Lees was threatened with the gun. Miraculously, she was able to escape and hide in the bushes for five hours before waving down a truck driver who took her to Barrow Creek. Falconio’s body was never found and his murder was pinned on a man named Bradley John Murdoch, who is now serving life in prison.