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Located near the intersection of Barkly and Stuart Highways, Tennant Creek, Northern Territory has a population of just over 3,000 people. More than half the residents consider themselves as indigenous. Tennant Creek, the waterway that runs through town, is on the Barkly Tableland. The black soil plains are covered with Mitchell grass, making this an important cattle-grazing area. Some of the biggest cattle stations in the world are located on the Barkly Tableland, near Tennant Creek, and others. John McDouall Stuart passed through this area in 1860, discovered the creek, and named it for John Tennant. Tennant was a pastoralist from Port Lincoln, and financed many of Stuart expedition attempts. In 1872, a temporary building housed a telegraph repeater station for the Overland Telegraph. It was placed on the banks of the creek. It was replaced by stone buildings that remain on the same site today. Gold was discovered very near the town by J. Smith Roberts, in 1926. This was one of the last gold discoveries in Australia. In 1927, a telegraph operator found gold. His discovery site soon became Tennant Creek’s first mine, the Great Northern.
You can visit the site of the telegraph station in Tennant Creek, and see the wonderfully restored stone station. With the background of the Forster Ranges, this is a scenic stop on your holiday, as well. This is one of fifteen telegraph relay points that transmitted signals from Port Darwin to Port Augusta in the 19th century. As such, it has significant historical value. An informational brochure on the self-guided tour is available at the Barrow Creek Pub.
Art and Culture
In Ali Curang, a remote aboriginal community near Tennant Creek, you can visit the Arlpwe Art Gallery and Art Centre. This is a unique collection of art, as many of the works are still in process. All of the art is by locals, and they are more than happy to share their stories with visitors. There are paintings and timber artefacts, fashioned by Aboriginal artisans at the centre. The Gallery is owned by the community, and all work is for sale.