We Visit Kunjarra (The Pebbles) Tennant Creek

We Visit Kunjarra (The Pebbles) Tennant Creek

We Visit Kunjarra (The Pebbles) Tennant Creek

We visited Kunjarra/The Pebbles just north of Tennant Creek and were awed by their beauty and presence. Personally I found it to be a magical place great importance to me.

Not as visually large or impressive as Karlu Karlu (The Devils Marbles) to the south of Tennant Creek they make up for it with what they are and what they mean to the regions first people the Warumungu.

Kunjarra The Pebbles Tennant Creek

Kunjarra The Pebbles Tennant Creek

I found them to be visually quite stunning set amongst the red dirt country with a very bright blue sky as a backdrop. What I wasn’t prepared for was how they made me feel that time had stood still and I was there a thousand years ago waiting for a ceremony to begin. I don’t claim to be of aboriginal heritage however as an Aussie I am deeply rooted to this country and land and standing there surrounded by Kunjarra/The Pebbles made me extra aware of this.

The Pebbles Tennant Creek

The Pebbles Tennant Creek

Kunjarra/The Pebbles are an extensive outcrop of granite boulders located 11 kilometres north of Tennant Creek. The sign boards at the site do a great job of explaining the cultural significance as well as how they fit in to the landscape and culture of the Warumungu Aboriginal people.

Kunjarra Tennant Creek

Kunjarra Tennant Creek

Known to the Warumungu Aboriginal people as Kunjarra/The pebbles. It is a sacred womens site where dancing and healing rites of the Munga Munga dreaming take place.

Accessing Kunjarra/The Pebbles

Access is about 500m past the Telegraph Station on the left for those travelling north on the Stuart Highway. There are six kilometres of unsealed road so high clearance vehicles are recommended. When we visited (August 2022) the dirt section was in pretty good condition with only a few corrugated sections.

Kunjarra/The Pebbles are open for visitor day use only. Camping is not permitted. There is a well formed walking track that winds around the site. Toilets are available.

Kunjarra The Pebbles Sign

Kunjarra The Pebbles Sign

We Visit Tennant Creek Telegraph Station

We Visit Tennant Creek Telegraph Station

We Visit Tennant Creek Telegraph Station

We visit Tennant Creek Telegraph Station and it was a great experience. A few days previous we visited the Alice Springs Telegraph Station and we were interested in a comparison between the two.

Tennant Creek Telegraph Station Telegraph Office

Tennant Creek Telegraph Station Telegraph Office

The Tennant Creek Telegraph Station is a lot more basic in it’s construction and is situated further out of town so it seems to be more rural and rustic in it’s appearance and construction than the one in Alice Springs. Tennant Creek township however was never really intended to exist so I get why the Telegraph Station seems to be a long way out of town. If it wasn’t for the telegraph station being where it was then they would possibly have not found gold near where the current Tennant Creek town is situated so the town may never have existed. Bit of a catch 22 situation.

Tennant Creek Telegraph Station Verandah

Tennant Creek Telegraph Station Verandah

There has been some restoration work done on the Telegraph Station at Tennant Creek and it has been done very well. Signs around the reserve explain things clearly and there are some really good displays of artefacts to be found inside some of the buildings.

Information Board

Information Board

Our visit to Tennant Creek Telegraph Station was a very worthwhile experience. It was both educational and at the same time made us reflect on just how hard the pioneers of our country had it. We highly recommend that if you are in the area that you check it out for yourselves.

Telegraph Station Inside Fireplace

Telegraph Station Inside Fireplace

About The Tennant Creek Telegraph Station

From Adelaide to Darwin the Overland Telegraph Line was constructed along a route that had been successfully traversed by John McDouall Stuart in 1862. The colonial telegraph system was Australia’s first connection to Britain completed in 1872.

Tennant Creek Telegraph Station

Tennant Creek Telegraph Station

A temporary bush timber building was erected in 1875 followed by a permanent building made from stone quarried nearby. Telegraph Stations provided early explorers, pastoralists, and travellers with water and supplies in addition to operating the line.

Tennant Creek township was established in 1925 as a result of the discovery of gold by a linesman. The old Telegraph Station was closed in 1935 when a post and telegraph office opened in the thriving town of Tennant Creek. Although the station closed in 1966 it continued to play an important role in the development of the region. Supplying meat and water to the new town.

Tennant Creek Telegraph Station Pioneer Cemetary Graves

Tennant Creek Telegraph Station Pioneer Cemetary Graves

A Long Aboriginal History In The Area

The region was first occupied by Warumungu people. There was a major upheaval in their lives as a result of the Overland Telegraph line being developed and pastoral activities commencing. Aboriginal people used the well as a water source during the severe droughts of the 1880s. The Telegraph Station was transformed into a rations store in 1890 when flour, sugar, tea, and blankets were distributed.

Metters Stove & Camp Oven

Metters Stove & Camp Oven

A mining permit over the Warumungu Aboriginal Reserve was issued in 1934, after the reserve was established by 1892. “The Warumungu people at Telegraph Station perform such a variety of ceremonies that both researchers are quite exhausted keeping records,” said Spencer and Gillen, who set up a dark room to process photographs at the station.

Access To The Tennant Creek Telegraph Station

A 10-km drive north of Tennant Creek on the Stuart Highway leads to the Reserve. Visitors can borrow keys from the Battery Hill Visitor Centre on Peko Road in order to gain access inside the buildings at the Tennant Creek Telegraph Station. Identification and a deposit are required.

Old Exide Battery Used To Power Overland Telegraph Line Equipment

Old Exide Battery Used To Power Overland Telegraph Line Equipment

Battery Hill Underground Mine Tour At Tennant Creek

Battery Hill Underground Mine Tour At Tennant Creek

Battery Hill Underground Mine Tour At Tennant Creek

We visited Battery Hill and went on the Battery Hill Underground Mine Tour At Tennant Creek. It was both educational and interesting. It’s the first time we have been down a gold mine. We have been down about a dozen opal mines and a few silver mines but never a gold mine.

Our Tour Guide

Our Tour Guide

The tour was very well done. It’s as if the gold mine had only closed down yesterday which is pretty much what happened except it was a bit longer ago. There is a heap of old equipment that is just left in place as it was.

Mine Lift Bucket

Mine Lift Bucket

Our tour guide for the Battery Hill Underground Mine Tour At Tennant Creek was extremely knowledgeable. In fact he is a current day gold prospector and has worked in various gold mines around the country so has first hand knowledge. Dave was very well spoken and gave us an excellent history lesson on the mine we were in as well as mines in the surrounding area. Dave also gave us a great rundown on the equipment and how it used. All up it was extremely educational and well worth the entry fee. I highly recommend that you go on the Battery Hill Underground Mine Tour At Tennant Creek if you are in the area.

Dave Explaining The Use Of Explosives

Dave Explaining The Use Of Explosives

About Battery Hill

J Smith Roberts discovered gold three miles north of the current town area in 1926. It was telegraph operator Charles Windley who discovered gold on what would become Tennant Creek’s first mine. It wasn’t until Frank Juppurla, an Indigenous man from the area, gave gold to telegraph operator Woody Woodruffe in December 1932 that Australia’s last great Gold Rush began. A population of 600 people quickly grew, of whom 60 were women and children. One of the last two operating ten-head stamp batteries, a government-owned ore crushing machine, is located at “Battery Hill” overlooking Tennant Creek.

Battery Hill Mining Museum

Battery Hill Mining Museum

Location

Battery Hill is located on Peko Road at Tennant Creek about 5 minutes drive from Tennant Creeks main street in Australia’s Northern Territory on Patta Land of the Waramungu people.

Phone (08) 8962 1281

Battery Hill Mine Tennant Creek

Battery Hill Mine Tennant Creek

Karlu Karlu Devils Marbles Driving To Tennant Creek

Karlu Karlu Devils Marbles Driving To Tennant Creek

Karlu Karlu Devils Marbles Driving To Tennant Creek

We called in to see Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles on our way from Barrow Creek to Tennant Creek. They are an incredible natural spectacle. You first see them from a distance and then as you get closer they become more and more unbelievable.

Split By A Giant

Split By A Giant

About Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles

Karlu Karlu are massive granite boulders sit balanced on top of other eroded granite boulders. It looks as if they have been put there by a playful, mystical giant millions of years ago. The outcrops are scattered across a wide valley.

How Did That Get Up There?

How Did That Get Up There?

Set in the lands of the traditional owners the Warumungu people the Devils Marbles are a sacred site known as Karlu Karlu in the language of the Warumungu. They were formed over millions of years.

The devils Marbles are continuing to crack and erode. Chances are high the next time you visit you will see something different.

Going For A walk Amongst The Devils Marbles

We spent over an hour wandering amongst the Devils Marbles at the first parking area you come to on the left. A track winds it way around them and there are many times that you just have to stop and look and wonder how on earth that particular one was formed.

Amanda - Is This The Devil?

Amanda – Is This The Devil?

At times you look at a boulder on top of another boulder and you think to yourself yeah nah that one’s going to fall off and roll down and squash us any second now so you move on a bit to get out of the way. The walk is very easy. It’s nice and flat and the path is very well formed.

Specacular Walk At The Devils Marbles

Camping At Karlu Karlu

Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve offers bush camping with fireplaces. Stay overnight so you can see the area at sunset the most dramatic time of day. Camping fees apply and campsites must be reserved online ahead of time.

Perched On Top

Perched On Top

Getting To Karlu Karlu

Karlu Karlu is 100km south of Tennant Creek just off the Stuart Highway.

Framed Like A Window

Framed Like A Window

Barrow Creek Hotel Free Camping At Matts Quarry

Barrow Creek Hotel Free Camping At Matts Quarry

Barrow Creek Hotel Free Camping At Matts Quarry

We visited Barrow Creek Hotel and free camped at an awesome place just down the road at Matts Quarry. Barrow Creek Hotel is one of those iconic outback pubs you just have to visit and experience.

Inside Barrow Creek Hotel

Inside Barrow Creek Hotel

Barrow Creek Hotel is more than a bit run down these days but it certainly didn’t detract from the experience. In fact I reckon it probably added to it. If you are looking for a gourmet lunch and beer on tap then give it a miss. If on the other hand you are looking for a real experience in a struggling old pub then call in. Meals aren’t available at the moment due to the cook doing a runner and replacement staff aren’t exactly beating a path to the door. You do have your choice of microwaved Mrs Macs pies and sausage rolls. Depending upon when the supply truck last called through. As for beer we watched as old mate undid the two padlocks on the fridge door and gazed in wonderment ant the vast selection of – yeah well we had a XXXX Gold! It was nice and cold though so it had that going for it at least. What exactly goes down in a place where the publican has to padlock the beer fridge during open hours does get you thinking.

Barrow Creek Hotel

Barrow Creek Hotel

Fuel is available at Barrow Creek and the price given the current climate was not too bad. And to add to the whole yesteryear thing they have going on old mate the publican also doubles as the fuel attendant. After filling up he wanders out to the pump to check out how much you’ve used. None of that modern day straight to the console swipe your card and you’re on your way at Barrow Creek Hotel! I loved it. It’s how things used to be.

Outside Barrow Creek Hotel

Outside Barrow Creek Hotel

I highly recommend you call in to Barrow Creek Hotel. Probably not if your last name is Falconio but then that’s a whole different story for some other time. Actually there are a few books and a mini series on what went down with Peter Falconio not too far from the Barrow Creek Hotel. Let’s just say that Peter Falconio has likely been at Barrow Creek Hotel Free Camping or somewhere nearby for quite a length of time.

Free Camping At Matts Quarry Near Barrow Creek

We pulled up stumps for the day and free camped at Matts Quarry a few minutes north of Barrow Creek on the Stuart Highway. Set your trip meter when you leave the hotel and head north. At the 1.2km mark look to your right and you will see a track heading off in to the scrub. Pull in and the track widens out and branches off in to dozens of good little spots to free camp.

Free Camping Near Barrow Creek

Free Camping Near Barrow Creek

There are no facilities available at Matts Quarry free camp however. No toilets, no showers, no water available however for the princely sum of zero zip nada dollars you get views of the surrounding area that are spectacularly beautiful. If you are looking for Barrow Creek Hotel Free Camping then I recommend Matts Quarry.

A Little Bit About Barrow Creek

With a current population of 11, Barrow Creek is a very small town in the southern Northern Territory. About halfway between Alice Springs and Tennant Creek, it is located on the Stuart Highway, about 280 km north of Alice Springs. The town’s main attraction is its roadhouse/hotel. The creek was named after the then-South Australian parliamentarian John Henry Barrow. His migration to South Australia had taken place in 1853. Kaytetye Aborigines have been living along Barrow Creek for tens of thousands of years.

Matts Quarry Free Camping Near Barrow Creek

Matts Quarry Free Camping Near Barrow Creek

The Peter Falconio Murder?

During a trip with his girlfriend Joanne Lees, Peter Falconio disappeared on the Stuart Highway near Barrow Creek in the Northern Territory of Australia on the evening of 14 July 2001.

Following the backpacker murders, the case attracted considerable public and legal attention both domestically and overseas. Falconio was 28 years old when he disappeared. He has never been found, and it is presumed that he is dead. In December 2005, Bradley John Murdoch was found guilty of Falconio’s murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Views At Matts Quarry Near Barrow Creek

Views At Matts Quarry Near Barrow Creek

National Road Transport Hall Of Fame And Ghan Museum

National Road Transport Hall Of Fame And Ghan Museum

National Road Transport Hall Of Fame And Ghan Museum

We highly recommend a visit to the National Road Transport Hall of Fame and Ghan Museum Alice Springs. The displays are fantastic and bring back memories of a bygone era. Amanda and I both work in the transport industry so this was an absolute visit for us. In particular I have a lifelong fascination with trains so to be able to get inside and up close and personal with many of the locomotives and rolling stock from the old Ghan Railway was a thing of joy for me.

Line Up Of Restored Bedfords

Line Up Of Restored Bedfords

In addition to the chassis of the first Kenworth to roll off the production line in 1971, the National Road Transport Hall of Fame has quite a few old road trains. Many of the outback’s pioneering vehicles are on display, including over 100 restored trucks and vintage cars. Access to the Kenworth Dealer Truck Museum, the National Road Transport Museum and the Ghan Railway Museum is included in the one admission price.

Old Ghan Railway Steam Locomotive

Old Ghan Railway Steam Locomotive

About The National Road Transport Hall of Fame and Ghan Museum Alice Springs

In 1995 the Road Transport Historical Society opened the National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs, Northern Territory. On the adjoining site is the Old Ghan Heritage Railway and Museum, which the society also operates.

The museum preserves Australia’s road transport heritage as a community-based volunteer organization. The museum displays a variety of road transportation modes, including camel trains and road trains of today.

Old Road Train

Old Road Train

In order to restoring some vehicles, the museum has generally taken a lateral approach: instead of displaying them in off-production-line condition, they stand as they did in their working lives. Including the pragmatic often rough and ready modifications bush mechanics had to make to work in Australia’s harsh outback environment. They bear testimony to Australia’s pioneering road transport industry’s trials and tribulations.

Old Ghan Railway Locomotive

Old Ghan Railway Locomotive

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