With its handful of shops, restaurants and sights, including an excellent Aboriginal cultural centre, TENNANT CREEK, 26km south of Three Ways, remains the best stopover on the long haul between Katherine (669km north) and Alice Springs (507km south). At the heart of the Barkly Region, Tennant is a hub for the mining and beef industries and the surrounding area is home to the NT’s oldest, and some of the world’s biggest, cattle stations.

Sadly, Tennant also has a dark side, with social problems and alcohol-related issues blighting sections of the Aboriginal community which makes up close to half the town’s population of around 3000. It can feel edgy when venturing out at night – taxis are a good idea if you’re taking more than a short walk – but the small town has for decades made efforts to shake off its reputation, and it deserves to be visited with an open mind.

John McDouall Stuart came through Tennant Creek in the early 1860s, followed by the Overland Telegraph Line ten years later. Pastoralists and prospectors arrived from the south and east, and in 1933 it was the site of Australia’s last major gold rush. Mining corporations continue to exploit the rich deposits here, with mineral exploration the most important industry alongside beef. The Stuart Highway becomes Paterson Street, the town’s main drag, as you enter Tennant.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Australia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Undiscovered Australia: 7 places to get off the tourist trail

Undiscovered Australia: 7 places to get off the tourist trail

Australia is a vast country, though most visitors stay on the same tried and tested track, ticking off well-touristed pitstops along the way. But, of course, …

07 Aug 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
The rebirth of Perth: how the city got cool

The rebirth of Perth: how the city got cool

Sun-soaked and healthy? Perhaps. A decent gateway to Western Australia? Definitely. But a cool place to spend a few days? Until recently Perth just couldn’t …

27 Apr 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
12 tips for backpacking Australia

12 tips for backpacking Australia

Backpacking Australia will almost certainly exceed your expectations. It’s not just that the places you’ll see will be more stunning than you had imagine…

09 Mar 2017 • Ros Walford insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month