Town Profile : Tennant Creek

Post Number: 337

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We had just spent about three weeks in the bush.  A poorly planned shopping trip in Katherine meant we were running low on food, and the Troopy needed some desperate work on its brakes.  We rolled into town early and got to work.  Dave dropped Juz off at the library so she could keep the interwebs side of the operation up to date while he went into town to get the parts he needed to tend to Troopy.


Fast Facts

  • Tennant Creek is the fifth largest town in the NT, with a population of just over 3000 people.
  • It’s about 1000km south of Darwin and 500km north of Alice Springs.
  • The creek nearby was named after John Tennant, the financer for John McDouall Stuart’s unsuccessful expedition to cross the continent in 1860.
  • An Overland Telegraph Station was erected near the creek in 1872
  • In the 1930s, Tennant Creek was the site of Australia’s last gold rush.


These days, Tennant Creek is a fairly mellow town.  There are a few pubs and service stations, a Red Rooster and Foodland, and there are heaps of murals.  You’ll see them everywhere – on bins, buildings, bus depots, motels!  If you go to the Visitor Centre, they’ll even give you a map that indicates where all the murals are.



Lunchtime rolled around fast and we were both STARVING!  We both had fantasies of sneaking off for a small pizza at one of the establishments on the main street, but Dave collected Juz from the library at about 1pm and we headed to Mary Ann Recreation Dam to use the free gas BBQs.  We cooked up some delicious steak sandwiches before having a cold shower in the toilet block by the dam.


Back in town, we stocked up on food and petrol.  Petrol at the BP just on the edge of town was priced at $1.79, and Dave used the 2c discount voucher in the Central Australia brochure.  The price of fresh vegetables at Foodland was surprisingly reasonable while the price of crackers was nearly double!


It was 4:30pm before we left Tennant Creek, and with the intention of getting to Devils Marbles for sunset, we had to fang it south down the Stuart Highway for 108km.  Dave put his foot to the floor and managed to coax the Troopy all the way up to a rattly 120kp/h!!  We made it to the Devils Marbles just in time to see the rocks to glow red.


Devils Marbles



The Pebbles – located about 17km north of town, it’s a cosy spot for a quick, overnight camp.  While you can’t climb on the pebbles out of cultural respect, the sunset casts an orange glow over the rocks that is just wonderful.



Billy Allen Lookout – this lookout provides 360° views of town and surrounds.  Definitely worth a look.


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Devils Marbles – about 108km south of Tennant Creek, the Devils Marbles are a MUST SEE destination. Camping is available right amongst the Marbles but don’t expect any privacy because it’s a popular spot.  Also, if you want to catch the sunset, make sure you get there by 5:30pm.


Devils Marbles



Visitor information is available at the Battery Hill Mining Centre.  It’sopen from 9am to 5.30pm daily and offers an underground mine tour, a museum and great views of town and the surrounding ranges.


Battery Hill, Peko Road, Tennant Creek
Free Call: 1800 500 879


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