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Barkly Tablelands, Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, Australia

Barkly Tablelands Area

Northern Territory

The vast Barkly Tablelands stretch east of Tennant Creek into Queensland and, at more than 280,000 square kilometres, cover about 20 per cent of the Territory's land mass. The Barkly is known for its golden grasslands and wide blue skies that give it that distinctive sense of the space and freedom of the outback. Vast cattle stations are located on the Tablelands, some as large as European countries, and this region is well known for the epic cattle drives of yesteryear that passed through en route to Queensland. One of the biggest events on this region's calendar is the Brunette Downs Races, a bush race meet held in June on a station 350 kilometres north east of Tennant Creek. Visitors fly in from all over Australia for the four-day bush race meet that has a distinct outback flavour. The Barkly Homestead at the junction of the Barkly and Tablelands highways is the only service centre in the tablelands and provides a welcome respite on the long drive to or from Queensland.

Larrimah Northern Territory

Larrimah

Northern Territory

The historic township of Larrimah, 250 kilometres south of Katherine, is a pleasant stop along the Stuart Highway. Its traditional owners are the Yangman Aboriginal people, whose descendants live today in the nearby community of Wubuluwan and in other communities around the region. The Yangman people believe Dreaming tracks of the Storm Bird (a channel bill cuckoo) helped create the surrounding landscape. John McDouall Stuart explored this area in the early 1860s but the township of Larrimah didn’t spring up until 1940, when Gorrie Airfield was constructed to service the war effort. Larrimah means ‘meeting place’ in the Yangman language and the town enjoyed a brief post war boom as a railhead and service provider to surrounding cattle stations. Visitors to Larrimah should stop in at the local hotel that was built using materials from the dismantled Birdum Hotel. It houses the highest bar in the Northern Territory, and is immediately recognisable thanks to the Pink Panther sitting outside. Budget hotel rooms, caravan sites and camping sites, meals and beverages are available. For traditional country fare, drop in to Fran’s Devonshire Teahouse after exploring the Old Police Station Museum.

Victoria River Northern Territory

Victoria River

Northern Territory

Known as Victoria River, Victoria River Crossing and the Victoria River Inn, this tiny settlement is located on the Victoria Highway 194 kilometres west of Katherine. The settlement itself is little more than a roadhouse and campground, but the scenery along the highway as it winds past immense escarpments split by the mighty Victoria River ranks as some of the most stunning in the Territory. Gregory National Park protects the area's colourful scenery featuring grassy plains, boab trees and majestic gorges carved out of sandstone escarpments.

Tennant Creek and Surrounds, Northern Territory, Australia

Tennant Creek and Surrounds

Northern Territory

The small town of Tennant Creek sits at the junction of the Barkly and Stuart highways, 500 kilometres north of Alice Springs and 1,000 kilometres south of Darwin. Known by locals as 'Tennant', the town is the service centre for the surrounding Barkly Tablelands, a huge area of grassy plains that house enormous cattle stations. Tennant Creek has a diverse history, shaped by the Overland Telegraph Line, gold mining, Aboriginal culture and pastoralism. The site of Australia's last major gold rush in the 1930s, Tennant Creek's mining past can be explored at the excellent Battery Hill Mining Centre, where underground tours shed light on the gold extraction process that made this area Australia's third-largest gold producer. The town's Nyinkka Nyunyu Art and Culture Centre is an award-winning museum and gallery that showcases the culture of the local Warumungu people. Other attractions include Tingkkarli/Lake Mary Ann, a picturesque swimming and picnicking spot. At the old Telegraph Station you will see stone buildings from 1872 and find out about the town's role in the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line. Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles is a sacred site about 100 kilometres south of Tennant Creek and is the region's most spectacular landmark. The Devils Marbles consist of hundreds of enormous boulders balanced on top of one another across a shallow valley. The local Aboriginal people call them 'Karlu Karlu', and Aboriginal lore says the rocks are the eggs of the Rainbow Serpent. Kunjarra/The Pebbles, is a women's dancing site located a short drive north of Tennant Creek. The Davenport Range National Park, accessed via the Barkly Highway, is a fantastic spot for four-wheel driving and camping. You will find some of the Territory's most challenging four-wheel drive tracks, and a series of permanent waterholes that attract plenty of birdlife.

Arnhem Land Northern Territory

Arnhem Land

Northern Territory

Arnhem Land is made up of 91,000 square kilometres of unspoiled wilderness bordered by Kakadu National Park, the Arafura Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria. Travellers wishing to visit Arnhem Land must obtain a permit in advance from the Northern Land Council. Alternatively, many organised tours visit the region, and in these cases a permit is usually organised by the tour operator. Arnhem Land is rich in culture and features a diverse landscape characterised by wild coastlines, towering escarpments, savannah woodlands and wetlands teeming with wildlife. The park protects wetlands of international importance and provides a habitat for abundant wildlife, including crocodiles, dugongs, nesting turtles and migratory birds. Townships within Arnhem Land include Maningrida and Nhulunbuy and the (ruins) of the Victoria Settlement on the Cobourg Peninsula.

Cape Crawford - Katherine Area - Northern Territory

Cape Crawford

Northern Territory

Cape Crawford is a remote stop, home of the famous Heartbreak Hotel, at the junction of the Carpentaria and Tablelands Highway. Despite the first part of its name, Cape Crawford is situated approximately 120 kilometres from the ocean and is so named because it is situated at the northern extremity or ‘cape’ of the Abner Ranges, which were first ‘discovered’ by drover Lindsay Crawford in 1880. The Abner Ranges are home to an impressive formation known as the Lost City. The Lost City covers an area of about eight square kilometres and is dotted with towering sandstone formations. These natural pillars remind many observers of skyscrapers, and are well worth a visit. Helicopter flights which land in the Lost City give access to four wheel drive tours through the sandstone formations.

Cobourg Peninsula - Kakadu Area - Northern Territory

Cobourg Peninsula

Northern Territory

The Cobourg Peninsula is home to some of the best reef and tropical sports fishing locations in the world. Situated on the western tip of Arnhem Land, Garig Gunak Barlu National Park encompasses most of this remote peninsula, which features sandy beaches, coastal grasslands, mangroves, rainforest patches, swamps, lagoons, coral reefs and seas grass meadows. To reach the Cobourg Peninsula by sea it takes approximately two sailing days (150 nautical miles) from Darwin. If travelling by road allow two or three days in a four-wheel drive (road access is only possible from May to October and is via Kakadu National Park). A permit from the Northern Land Council is essential for all travellers. Tours can be organised where the operator organises a permit and transport. There are many areas of historic significance including the ruins of an early European colony at Victoria Settlement in Garig Gunak Barlu National Park on the secluded Coburg Peninsula. However many who come to Cobourg Peninsula have just one thing on their minds – fishing. The quality of fishing is world-class, and Cobourg Peninsula has plenty of mangrove-lined creeks and billabongs jumping with barramundi, mangrove jack and other sportfish. The ocean teems with barracuda, queen fish, trevally, coral trout and jewfish. Protected sea life including turtles, crocodiles, dugongs and dolphins can also be seen in the area.

Arnhem Land Area Northern Territory

Arnhem Land Area

Northern Territory

Arnhem Land is made up of 91,000 square kilometres of unspoiled wilderness bordered by Kakadu National Park, the Arafura Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria. Travellers wishing to visit Arnhem Land must obtain a permit in advance from the Northern Land Council. Alternatively, many organised tours visit the region, and in these cases a permit is usually organised by the tour operator. Arnhem Land is rich in culture and features a diverse landscape characterised by wild coastlines, towering escarpments, savannah woodlands and wetlands teeming with wildlife. The park protects wetlands of international importance and provides a habitat for abundant wildlife, including crocodiles, dugongs, nesting turtles and migratory birds. The town of Maningrida, on the north coast of Arnhem Land, is famous for its indigenous art. Gunbalanya, one of the first stops east of Kakadu National Park, is an Aboriginal community where indigenous artists gather at the Injalak Art and Craft Centre. An open day is held in Gunbalanya usually during July, when travellers can visit freely and enjoy the cultural activities without a permit. The town of Nhulunbuy is located on the Gove Peninsula, approximately 600 kilometres east of Darwin. It is a major service centre, providing accommodation and supplies, and offers spectacular beaches and great fishing. There are many areas of historic significance including the ruins of an early European colony at Victoria Settlement in Garig Gunak Barlu National Park on the secluded Coburg Peninsula and the Black Point Cultural Centre which displays Aboriginal, Macassan and European histories of the area.

Goulburn Islands Northern Territory

Goulburn Islands

Northern Territory

The North and South Goulburn Islands are located in Auray Bay off the northern Arnhem Land coast. The islands are Aboriginal-owned and permits from the Northern Land Council are essential for all visitors. The Goulburn Islands are not set up for tourism, but intrepid sailors and fishermen may occasionally find themselves on their shores. The Warruwi people are the traditional owners of the Goulburn Islands and the main language, Mawng, is spoken by about 750 people. Warruwi community is located on the southern tip of the south island and is a dry community (no alcohol). Fishing is the main pastime of local people, who are allowed to hunt the turtles and dugong prevalent in the area. The lifestyle is slow and relaxing and the climate is slightly cooler than Darwin.

Alice Springs Area Northern Territory

Alice Springs Area

Northern Territory

Alice Springs is a diverse and vibrant outback town. Situated on the banks of the Todd River (which only occasionally runs with water) ‘Alice’ is famous for its colourful characters and relaxed atmosphere. Travellers can enjoy the view from Anzac Hill, browse the Araluen Cultural Precinct, learn about the hardships of the pioneers at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station or the Royal Flying Doctor Service, meet rare and endangered wildlife at Alice Springs Desert Park or tee-off on one of the best desert golf courses in the world. A range of quirky events also provide entertainment - cheer at the Imparja Camel Cup, see the hilarious ASSA ABLOY Henley-on-Todd (a ‘boat’ race on the dry Todd River), or road test one of 3,000 beanies at the Alice Springs Beanie Festival. Alice Springs is a great base from which to explore the surrounding region, with attractions such as the East and West MacDonnell Ranges, the Larapinta Trail, Finke Gorge National Park, Hermannsburg (birthplace of Albert Namatjira), the Simpson and Tanami Deserts and more within easy reach.

Information provided by the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse