Arltunga and Hale River Homestead

Government area at Arltunga_Historical_Reserve
(Click on the image above to see images of our trip through the Arltunga Historical Reserve and Hale River Homestead)

Arltunga is an old gold mining town established around the 1880’s. It seems the gold was mainly fine and had to be panned or crushed to find the valuable metal.

We travelled out from Ross River Homestead with the intention of visiting Arltunga and also checking out the road to Hale River Homestead. This place was rated as 5 stars on WikiCamps so it obviously attracted our attention. Knowing that the road to Arltunga and beyond was dirt, we wanted to check on its suitability for our caravan before deciding to venture out there to camp. Unfortunately the road was far too corrugated to take the van out to the Homestead and that was decided in the first 10 kilometres of the track.

 

Nonetheless we proceeded on to Arltunga where we had camped once before. We visited the Information Centre and watched video on the establishment of the town and its history. It is just amazing how people could of lived in such conditions on the promise, albeit very loose, of some specks of gold at the end of such work.

Arltunga has been recreated as much as possible to preserve the history of the place, so there is much to see. Several roads criss cross the historical area and visit the various areas and settlements. We found it odd that there were no less than three cemeteries across the area. Yet all would of been within walking distance of each other except perhaps for the Whites Range cemetery.

On the way back from Whites Range we visited Joker Gorge. What an amazing place. To get there involves a walk from the carpark through an old settlement that has been reconstructed to some extent. There is a great example of a "round house" made from rocks. (photo in slideshow) These houses apparently had a pole in the middle and a canvas roof. That was the extent of the grandeur in the Arltunga housing estate it seems.

Moving on from the Round House and into the gorge where you start climbing a number of rocks. The rocks just get bigger and bigger as you move further into the gorge. You can just imagine a huge torrent of water rushing over these rocks as it plummeted through to the watercourses below. It would of been awesome from a safe vantage point and no doubt still would be today.

From Joker Gorge we returned to the crossroads and headed to our original destination for the day, Hale River Homestead. The place did not disappoint with green lawns in their camping area and shady trees. Shame we weren't going to be able to get out here on the road. Interestingly enough, this road is a big loop which runs from Ross River Homestead to Hale River Homestead and then onto Gemtree. Gemtree is a great gem fossicking area for garnets and has a great caravan park and camping area. The road then finally meets the Stuart Highway north of Alice Springs. So if you have an off road vehicle and trailer it would be a great trip.

We enjoyed a great hamburger lunch at Hale River Homestead. The staff were very friendly and the surrounds were quite interesting. They have a huge collection of old horse gear including pack saddles and pack canteens. There is also a collection of whips and leather work and this is still done on the station today. As an ex rider who used to do a bit of pack horsing in the High Plains of Victoria, I found much of this brought back many fond memories. It was great to see someone preserving the old ways and a lot of the old gear.

I should also comment on the cleanliness of the place. Despite being in an open shed, the place was spotless.

From Hale River, we retraced our steps back through Arltunga to Ross River and settled down for another night around the campfire.

For information on Arltunga you can visit the following sites.
https://nt.gov.au/leisure/parks-reserves/find-a-park-to-visit/arltunga-historical-reserve
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arltunga_Historical_Reserve

Map of the Arltunga area - https://nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/199986/arltunga-historical-reserve-fact-sheet-and-map.pdf

Click the link for information on Hale River Homestead that will take you to their website.

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