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The Oodnadatta Track and the Stuart Highway

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Wycliffe Well

Wycliffe Well, on the Stuart Highway and known as the UFO Capital of Australia, is 130 kms south of Tennant Creek and 380 kms north of Alice Springs.

Wycliffe Well had its beginnings as the site of a well sunk in 1875 for the overland telegraph line. There were 4 such wells between Alice Springs and Tennant Creek. Wycliffe Well supplied 1,000 gallons of fresh water from a depth of 30 feet.

The wells were worked by a "whip", whereby  a camel or horse walked backwards and forwards pulling the rope drawing up buckets of water and then emptied by hand. One or two people operated the "whip". One stood on top of the well emptying the bucket into a trough. Droving teams sent people ahead to draw the water before the cattle arrived.

In 1919 the Crooke family gained the rights to Wycliffe Well and used it to establish their surrounding Singleton Station. Their herd were from cattle left behind from travelling mobs when they became sick or too weak to travel.

The Crooks built a store at Wycliffe Well of galvanised iron surrounded by bough shade houses. They sold stores and fresh garden produce to miners and travellers along the track. After they left, two miners from the Wolfram Mines continued the operation.

During the war years an Army Farm was set up at Wycliffe Well at the old Crook's site. It was one of 13 Army farms established along "the track". By 1944 the Army farms were supplying food to over 55,000 army personnel who were defending Northern Australia.

In keeping with their reputation as the UFO Centre for Australia, Wycliffe Well Holiday Park were holding a UFO conference with musical entertainment in March 2011.  More than 300 alien-chasers were booked in at the Holiday Park, 138 km south of Tennant Creek as the spaceship flies. But the event was cancelled as the Park grounds were underwater after torrential rain. The normally dry Stuart Highway resembled a lake and staff towed dozens of vehicles across a flooded stretch of the highway. It seems a spaceship would have been needed to get there!

After the rain

Heritage display at Wycliffe Well

Army Farm at Wycliffe Well 1940s