BARKLY TABLELANDS - 41km East of Barkly Homestead Roadhouse > THREE WAYS > TENNANT CREEK

Day 9

Sunday 28th July 2002


  • Left Barkly Tablelands rest area 41km East of Barkly Homestead

  • Barkly Homestead Roadhouse - Refuelled

  • Travelled towards the junction of the Stuart and Barkly Highways

  • Three Ways - Turned South

  • Tennant Creek - Checked in at Tennant Creek Caravan Park 

  • Overland Telegraph Station - Drove back to the station site late in the afternoon and looked around

  • Camped overnight at Tennant Creek Caravan Park

We left the rest area and travelled towards the junction of the Barkly and Stuart Highways.
The next stop was the Barkly Homestead Roadhouse. As we had spare fuel on board we gave refuelling a miss after we saw the price, $1.12 / litre. We had carried the spare fuel since Kingaroy where we had purchased it for 82c / litre and now was the time to use it.
In my planning for the trip I had investigated fuel prices along the route and knew roughly where the prices would rise. To keep the average price of fuel to roughly 95c / litre, I had planned to use our spare fuel in the dearer areas and refuel in the cheaper areas. As it turned out, the plan worked very well.
I found ExplorOz a brilliant site and very informative in my planning, especially these 2 sections :

Queensland Fuel Prices
Northern Territory Fuel Prices.

We took the opportunity to have a drink and some take - away food at the
Barkly Homestead Roadhouse before returning to our trip.
As happens, a while down the highway, Judy needed to stop for a call of nature. I pulled into another of the rest areas spaced along the highway. This one was better in a sense than the one we had camped at the previous night. It had a stand of what looked like Casuarinas.
We let the 2 dogs out for a run while Judy took care of her needs behind the trees.
What a mistake!!
Dogs being dogs they sniffed around and Chips found some recently deposited human faeces
So, for the next 30 minutes or so, Judy attempted to wash him. Luckily the tank next to the windmill had a full tank and very high pressure at the outlet. Judy ended up drenched while doing this and was not a happy camper after returning to the vehicle.
She managed to wash it all off Chips, which was great, as otherwise we would have had to endure the smell emanating from him in the back of the vehicle.
With that episode behind us we headed on towards
The Three Ways, the name of the intersection of the two highways.

The Three Ways is marked by a service station. Seeing we were heading left at the turn to go to Tennant Creek, we decided not to call in this time as we knew we would pass it 2 more times on our trip.

We soon arrived on the outskirts of
Tennant Creek after noting the Overland Telegraph Station off to the east of the highway.
Our main focus at that time was to find somewhere to put our tents for the night. We were hoping in a lot of cases to camp on the highway, but in this case it just wasn't sensible, so we opted for the
Tennant Creek Caravan Park after checking around.
The woman at reception was very pleasant and helpful and the park looked as you might expect for a dry area, sparse grass and slightly run down. For our needs, it was adequate. It was cheap, had showers, toilets and a grassy area under
Eucalypts - with hopefully no branches about to snap and fall on us - at the back of the park to erect our tents.
We erected the tents and looked around the town. Being a Sunday afternoon it was very quiet with just groups of aboriginals sitting around.

Because I have always been interested in seeing the remains of what I regard as an amazing feat, the construction of the first telephone line connecting
Adelaide and Darwin, we went back over our tracks north of town, to the Overland Telegraph Station tourist site.
I really enjoyed walking around, looking at the buildings, reading the history of the site and imagining how anyone could have lived in what was at the time, such an isolated and hostile site.

We returned to the town as the Winter sun was going down, creating long shadows across the hills.

After looking around the town for places that sold take away food we found the only place was a Service Station. It was running out of food fast but we made it in time to sit down and have hamburgers. Very nice they were too!

As night closed in we made our way back to the Caravan Park and drove in the driveway. We made our way to the back of the park, crossing a couple of intersections in the park area until we found our tent. Ray and Coral were there. They had gone on their own to explore the town.
As Judy and I walked from our car towards the tent, out of the dark into the glow of a weak fluorescent light above us appeared a very aggressive, twitching man with a menacing look on his face. He started abusing us for driving fast through the park - which we hadn't done - and was ready for a fight.
I thought he must have been mistaken and tried to reason with him but he had no intention of listening to me. He wanted to know who was driving and luckily it was Judy because as soon as he found it was her, he settled down and was satisfied with telling her off.

We were really taken aback and assumed he was one of the owners. After talking about it for a while I decided to ring the office on my mobile to see what we had done wrong.
A woman answered the phone very pleasantly and I put to her what had happened and asked what it was that we had done wrong.
She was very flustered and went on to explain that it had nothing to do with them - the owners - but she knew who it was and apologised profusely.
Apparently the person who confronted us had what she termed "a problem" and took it upon himself to "police" the park. Apparently he had it in his mind that we were going too fast and he was protecting the children in the park, wrongly though his assumption was, as Judy drove very slowly in the dark looking for our tent spot.

As we checked out next morning she said she'd take something off our bill but I told her not to and that it was enough that she understood and would make sure he didn't do it to others, as it would give the park a bad name. As we left she was still apologizing.

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This is the entrance to Overland Telegraph Station.


A section of poles carrying the single wire on insulators.

That wire carried the telegraph signal to and from Adelaide and Darwin and in between.

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Back on the highway, going back into Tennant Creek, after visiting the Overland Telegraph Station


The Winter sun on the surrounding hills and long shadows in the valleys highlighted the scenery as we drove on, late in the afternoon.


Last Updated : 28/01/2012 09:11 PM +1000