Tennant Creek – Overview & Things to See and Do
Tennant Creek was named in 1860 after John Tennant, a pastoralist from Port Lincoln, South Australia by John McDougall Stuart, in gratitude for the financial help Tennant had provided for Stuart’s expeditions across Australia.
On his third attempt, Stuart became the first explorer to successfully cross the continent from north to south, paving the way for the telegraph line which would eventually link Australia with the outside world.
In 1872 a temporary building for a telegraph repeater station was erected near the watercourse of Tennant Creek and, in 1874, the occupants of the Tennant Creek Overland Telegraph Station completed the solid stone buildings which remain today. You can still experience this, one of the four remaining original telegraph stations. Its preserved buildings form a piece of living history and provide an insight into life as it was when the station was a ‘friendly island of comfort and conversation’ for those first pioneers who travelled the long, lonely track beside the telegraph line.
The Tennant Creek Telegraph Station remained an isolated outpost until the 1930’s when gold was discovered. The opening up of the rich Tennant field, abundant in gold, marked the start of Australia’s last great Gold Rush.
The story goes that Joe Kilgariff, a pioneer of the Territory, built his store in 1934 where a beer wagon had become bogged and this became the Tennant Creek Hotel. The pub is still a historic monument to those early days.
William Weaber, who was totally blind and his pal, the larrikin Jack Noble, who had only one good, between them found the richest mines in the field – the Rising Sun; Kimberly Kids; Weaber’s Find and Noble’s Nob.
Things to See and Do
Anzac Hill: Lions Lookout and the ‘avenue of the stars’ Celebrity Walk with handprints of famous people who have passed through the town are well worth visiting.
Australian Inland Mission: Built in 1934, this building is in the main street and is one of the few surviving examples of early, prefabricated corrugated iron buildings of Sydney Williams construction.
Church of Christ The King: Once known as ‘the longest church in Australia’ because trucks transporting it from Pine Creek in 1936 were spread out all along the highway, it was originally built at Pine Creek in 1904, and is now classified as a Historic Building by the National Trust.
Gold Stamp Battery: Open 9.30am to 5.00pm daily, learn how the early miners crushed their ore to extract the gold as the ten stampers of this original crushing plant come alive, then visit the museum. At 11.00am daily, go underground with your guide on the Battery Hill Mine Tour. See working machinery and marvel at the authentic sounds and displays as your guides demonstrates modern mining and relates stories. Ghost Tour late evening.
Heritage Walk: An excellent way to experience the town. If you follow the historic plaques, you’ll learn all about Tennant, its history, stories of hijacked gold, gambling, early picture theatres, churches and much more.
Jurnkurakurr Mural: In the centre of Tennant and depicting the dreaming and the country of the Warumungu men and women. Painted by Aboriginal people as a Community Arts Mural Project, it is one of many murals that can be seen around the town.
Tennant Creek Cemetery: As you travel south, just out of town, you’ll find the Tennant Creek Cemetery, resting place of many pioneers. Plaques on the headstones and ornamental gate tell the story of battles with the elements, and the joy and tragedy of days gone past.
Tuxworth-Fullwood Museum: Built by the army in 1942 as the old army camp hospital. Today it houses the old jailhouse; a reconstruction of a miner’s camp and mine workings; old ‘Furphy’ water cart; the town’s archive collection and early photographs of the town and its people. Some of the Region’s early pioneers are still living in the town.
Warrego Fossicking Area: Along the Warrego Road to the west of town you will pass a number of working gold and copper mines on the way to the mining township of Warrego. Beyond it lies the Warrego fossicking area where the visitors can fossick for gold. You’ll need a permit – but then, that’s the way its always been.