I looked out at the endless stretch of desert covered with termite mounds. It’s hard to imagine Nat Buchanan, a pioneering cattle driver in 1896, covering these vast spaces with herds of cattle. He was looking for an overland stock route that had adequate water for stock crossing. Herds of cattle also wouldn’t have to detour so far north if a southerly route was suitable. The desert crossing was feasible although no new sources of water were found. The southern stock route never materialized.
In 1900, Allan Davidson was the first European to explore the Tanami Desert thoroughly. He set out looking for gold and mapped possible sites with amazing accuracy. Gold was discovered in several locations, which produced a flurry of activity. The conditions were extremely harsh. That fact and the lack of much mineral, deterred most miners. The biggest mines were the Tanami Mine, which closed in 1994, and The Granites, which reopened in 1986.
During the 1920s, a geologist named Michael Terry, crossed the Tanami Desert searching for minerals. He utilized different modes of transportation, one of which was camels, the other, Morris six wheeled vehicles. In 1928, this became the first motorized transportation to cross the continent.
The Tanami Track cuts up through the heart of the Tanami Desert. It travels for 1000 kilometres from Alice Springs to Halls Creek. The remoteness of the landscape lends itself to the person looking to ‘get away from it all!’
Suggested activities: Research trails that have led to settlement. Why were these trails important and for what purpose were they originally intended? Are the trails still in use today and what is their historical significance?