The first part of my route south from Darwin to Alice Springs of 1498 km (936 miles) will take me through some fairly spectular scenery and some of the harshest country in the world. The highway was bitumised during World War II and is now a modern and comfortable road with stops every 100 or 200 km. to ease the 1500 km journey. Until January 2007 there was no speed limit on highways in the Northern Territory. Large tracts of land are unfenced where wandering cattle and other animals can appear at any time - mind you at my speed I should see them coming.


Below is a list of SOME OF the places I will pass through - as you can see, not a lot there.

Darwin: Population 80,000
Is the capital of the Northern Territory and Australia’s gateway to Asia and Europe. Cosmopolitan and semi-tropical, its population enjoys a unique Australian lifestyle. It is the touring centre for the World Heritage Area of  Kakadu National Park and many other interesting parks and conservation areas.

Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

Aerial shot of Darwin

Adelaide River: Population 350
Around 100km south of Darwin the Stuart Highway crosses the Adelaide River. This tiny township sits on the northern bank. There is a beautiful war cemetery and an abandoned ammo dump from WW2

Hayes Creek: Population 20
A roadhouse on the western side of the highway amongst the ranges south of Darwin.

Pine Creek: Population 600
An historical town, 248km south on the Stuart Highway, it was the centre of a gold rush in the years 1872-74. The field at Pine Creek produced over $4 million of gold. A cairn near the service station commemorates the event. There are several buildings of interest including the old hotel and the now disused railway station.

Katherine: Population 10,500
The Northern Territory's third largest town and near the spectacular Katherine Gorge. Hot and tropical it has a unique atmosphere. It is also the point where the Highway to Western Australia joins the Stuart Highway.

Mataranka: Population 600
This township straddles the Stuart Highway south of Katherine and is a popular watering hole for travellers. The beautiful Mataranka Hot Springs are a short trip east of the township across the Roper River and should not be missed. Just south of Mataranka are the "We of The Never Never" graves, made famous by Aeneas Gunn.

Thermal pools at Mataranka

Mataranka Hot Springs

Larrimah: Population 30
Once the southern extremity of a railway line from Darwin, it is now a small town with a comfortable pub which offers accommodation and apparently a very tall bar - looking forward to seeing that.

Daly Waters: Population 50
A stop in two parts. A comfortable roadhouse will be found on the main highway where a road branches off to Borroloola. To the west of the highway the historic and well patronised " Daly Waters Pub" offers sustenace and history for all. A tree on which Stuart carved his initials in 1862 will also be seen.

Daly Waters Pub

The pub at Daly Waters has some very interesting things adorning its walls.  I might make a brief stop here.

Dunmarra: Population 30
Dunmarra is a roadhouse and small motel beside the highway and a change over point for coach drivers operating between Alice Springs and Darwin. It is licensed and has excellent meals  - hopefully I can confirm that.

Elliot: Population 450
It is a few kilometres south of the massive Newcastle Waters crossing which, until a bridge spanned the several kilometres, caused long delays when the Newcastle River flooded. The old township of Newcastle Waters is just west of the crossing and Newcastle Waters Homestead was owned by media entepreneur, the late Kerry Packer.

Renner Springs: Population 10
Renner Springs is a roadhouse on the highway between Tennant Creek and Elliot

Three Ways: Three Ways is the junction of the Barkly highway from Mount Isa and Queensland and the Stuart Highway. There is a pub, a roadhouse, an impressive monument to John Flynn, and off to the west are the 'Devil's Pebbles', a miniature version of the Devils Marbles.

Tennant Creek: Population 3700
Tennant Creek is one of the Territory's largest towns and is a tourism and mining centre straddling the highway.

Sw from Tennant Creek

A view of the landscape near Tennant Creek

The Devils Marbles: Giant rocks scattered on both sides of the highway just north of Wauchope are a photographers delight. Time and erosion have worn away the surrounding soil leaving the granite rock exposed, and wind and rain have shaped them into giant balls. Hopefully I will have time to touch these big balls.

The Devil's Marbles

Wauchope: Population 30

A popular pub and roadhouse along the way. Inside you will find some fascinating bits of Territory memorabilia.

Barrow Creek: Population 20
This was the scene of a sneak attack by local aborigines on staff at the Telegraph Station in which 2 men died. They are buried in graves near the historic telegraph station. There is a pub and petrol station and basic mechanical services are available. It was to Barrow Creek that English tourist Joanna Lees reported the ambush of their vehicle and the disappearance of her partner Peter Falconio.

Ti Tree: Population 40
This small town is now a large producer of fresh vegetables and fruit for Territory markets. There is a school, a pub with cabin accommodation and a general store. It is the largest community between Alice Springs and Tennant Creek

Aileron: Poulation 30
Aileron is a small hotel and general store north of Alice Springs.

Plenty Highway: This mainly loose surface road services many outback stations and eventually leads in to Mount Isa in Queensland. It is a more direct route for travellers to Queensland who don't mind a bit of dirt and outback.

Alice Springs: Population: 28,000
The legendary town of Outback Australia. Gateway to Ayers Rock, and set among the beautiful MacDonnell Ranges on the Todd River.