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Daly Waters

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Daly Waters - Cities, Towns and Localities

The small township of Daly Waters is less than 600 km south of Darwin and approximately 3 km west of the Stuart Highway on the old stock route. Although a tiny settlement, Daly Waters is one of the Territory’s most famous watering holes, even more so because of the historic Daly Waters Pub, the Northern Territory’s oldest pub.

The settlement was named by John McDouall Stuart during his epic attempts to cross the continent. In his attempt in 1860, Stuart only reached the area known as Tennant Creek. His second attempt in early 1861 saw him get further north, but having to turn back again. In October, 1861, leaving Adelaide on his third attempt, his party was to cross the plains under Mount Hay on March 5th, 1862, just to the north-west of Alice Springs. By the latter half of May...

We have also seen, on both sides of us, ponds with water surrounded by gum-trees...

We have now passed some fine holes of water, which will last at least three months; at five miles the water is becoming more plentiful and the creek broader and deeper...*

Stuart was to name these series of water holes ‘Daly Waters’, in honour of his Excellency the Governor-inChief of South Australia, Sir Dominick Daly, having reached Daly Waters on the 28th May, 1862. His journey was to continue on northward, finally reaching the coast near Darwin on 24 July 1862, the following day they officially raised the Union Jack...

“South Australian Great Northern Exploring Expedition.

“The exploring party, under the command of John McDouall Stuart, arrived at this spot on the 25th day of July, 1862, having crossed the entire Continent of Australia from the Southern to the Indian Ocean, passing through the centre. They left the City of Adelaide on the 26th day of October, 1861, and the most northern station of the Colony on 21st day of January, 1862. To commemorate this happy event, they have raised this flag bearing his name. All well. God save the Queen!”*

The Overland Telegraph Line reached Daly Waters in June, 1872 and for a short period (until the line was completed) a ‘pony express’ bridged the gap between Daly Waters and Tennant Creek. The line was finally completed on 22 August, 1872.

The region was a crossroads for three major stock routes, the Barkly Tableland Route, the Murranji Track and the North-South Route.

The area's traditional owners are the Jingili people, who inhabited the area around Elliott. The area lies across the important Dreaming tracks of the Emu and the Sun, travelling through on their way to the southern parts of the Northern Territory.

Check out our listing of Daly Waters accommodation. In addition to our listed online travel guide information, contact the local tourism visitor centre for your destination for more attractions, tours, local maps and other information.

Information Centre

Northern Territory Visitors Centre - Darwin

Daly Waters Attractions

Historic Daly Waters Pub
• Stuart St, DALY WATERS NT 0852 • Ph: 08 8975 9927 • Email
• The Northern Territory’s oldest pub, was once the last watering hole for drovers venturing the perilous Murranji Stock Route. Here the cattle were rested and the men quenched their thirst.. Today, the traditions continues, except instead of drovers and cattle, the place is alive with caravans, 4 wheel drives and backpackers.
Daly Waters AirfieldDaly Waters Airstrip
• The Daly Waters Airstrip was constructed about 1926, when it was a centre for the London to Sydney air race of 1926. It became a major staging point for interstate and international airlines, becoming Australia's first international airfield, a refuelling stop for the early Qantas flights to Singapore and London. It also played a significant part in the protecting the northern Australia coastline during World War II, being declared an RAAF station on the 18 March, 1942, with Australian and American air forces being based here. It last saw action in 1989 as part of the military manoeuvres Kangaroo ’89.

The aerodrome is now only used by private aircraft and Air-Med (remote area medical service). The original Qantas hangar now houses exhibits that include photographs and equipment from the area’s aviation past.
The Stuart Tree
• On route into Daly Water is a dead tree, with a plaque that reads ‘The explorer John McDouall Stuart is presumed to have carved the initial S on this tree on 23 May 1862 during his successful journey from Adelaide to Darwin 1861-62. Erected by the Northern Territory Forces in 1944’.
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Daly Waters Distance

Distance to Daly Waters
• Following are some approximate distances by road to Daly Waters:
Alice Springs 914
Darwin 591
• Elliott 155
• Humpty Doo 559
Katherine 274
Pine Creek 365
Mataranka 167
Tennant Creek 407
Distances given are only approximation, they should be verified with the appropriate maps.
The Australian Automotive Motoring Associations also offer select access to travel trip planners.
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• Daly Waters Maps
Bing Maps - Daly Waters Beach NT
Google Maps - Daly Waters NT 0852
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Daly Waters Other Links

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* The University of Adelaide eBooks@Adelaide - John McDouall Stuart, 1815-1866. The Journals of John McDouall Stuart, by John McDouall Stuart. Journal of Mr. Stuart's successful expedition across the continent of Australia. From December, 1861, to December, 1862. Retrieved 23 May, 2011.
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