The United States has Roswell. Australia has Wycliffe Well. Is the truth out there? Should we be looking to the skies? A stop at the tiny outback town of Wycliffe Well might make you question everything you thought you knew about the universe.
LITTLE GREEN MEN
Wycliffe Well is steeped in UFO lore. It has no crop circles, but it does have a roadhouse and a caravan park – just the place to rest your travel-weary bones, refuel your vehicle and stock up on some essential supplies. And if the claims about Wycliffe Well’s alien visitations are to be believed, you might find that your stay is truly out of this world.
Located 130km south of Tennant Creek, NT, on the Stuart Highway, in some ways Wycliffe Well – which bills itself as the ‘UFO Capital of Australia’ – seems like an old amusement park, without the rides.
Out the front of the roadhouse, you’ll find statues of little green men and their spaceship, as well as lots of UFO signage. It’s immediately clear that this is not your typical outback roadhouse.
Step inside and you’ll find UFO-themed paraphernalia and mementos, not to mention aged newspaper clippings hanging from the walls that detail various claimed UFO sightings. It’s all a bit cheesy but it’s good fun.
The adjoining caravan park has what you would expect for its location: a mix of grassy and red-earth sites, some powered and many unpowered, an amenities block with laundry facilities, etc. – not to mention a wide, open night sky that’s perfect for UFO-spotting, if you believe that sort of thing. The tourist park covers 60 acres and also features a lake suitable for boating and fishing.
WYCLIFFE WELL HISTORY
Apparently, Wycliffe Well was once considered one of the top five places in the world to spot UFOs. The town itself is over 160 years old. It began as a watering point as part of the stock route for the Overland Telegraph Line.
The town’s well was sunk in late 1875. It was one of four government wells established along the Overland Telegraph Line between Tennant Creek and Alice Springs.
A grazing licence was granted to a nearby station owner and in 1917, a vegetable garden in the area was established. By 1939, two local miners were growing veggies to sell to the workers in the nearby mines.
In 1941, Wycliffe Well became an army farm. During the 1960s, the roadhouse that’s there to this day was built on one of the concrete slabs installed for the army.
Around the same time, a fuel pump was installed and visitors began to stop. That’s when the stories of mysterious lights and other objects in the sky began.
Wycliffe Well became a UFO-themed tourist attraction in 1985 when a man named Lew Farkus took ownership of the roadhouse and caravan park. As the area’s reputation as a favourite haunt of aliens grew, Mr Farkus saw an opportunity.
In its heyday, Wycliffe Well had a small zoo, country dancing and singalongs. Mr Farkus sold the property in 2009, and it’s fair to say the place no longer has the same ‘magic’. Nonetheless, it remains an interesting place to stop – it will capture your imagination in a way no other outback roadhouse or van park will.
Of course, Wycliffe Well is not a destination in its own right. Rather, think of it as a quirky place to stay as you head south or north, exploring the many towns along the Stuart Highway and attractions off to the side.
Both the Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve and the Davenport Ranges are within easy reach, making Wycliffe Well a good place to base yourself, in some comfort, while you explore these areas.
The Devils Marbles offers a free-camping area suitable for all types of RVs; however, it offers no facilities.The Davenport Ranges (east of Tennant Creek), meanwhile, offers numerous places to pitch a tent or a swag but it’s not really suitable for RVs. Exploring the Davenport Ranges requires a high-clearance 4WD. It has a network of permanent waterholes, outback landscapes, fantastic 4WD tracks, diverse wildlife including the black-footed rock wallaby, emus and the Australian bustard – hundred of waterbirds flock to the sheltered gorges and waterholes in the Davenport Ranges as they are full of several species of fish.
So why not set yourself up for a couple of days at Wycliffe Well? Take off in the 4WD one day to explore the Davenport Ranges, return to the UFO Capital of Australia for a meal and a beer, and the next day, head north along the Stuart Highway for a look around the Devils Marbles.
And who knows? You might even spot a mysterious light in the sky that may, or may not, be of alien origin…
MEET THE AUTHOR
Max Taylor has been caravanning since he was a kid and was the editor of some of Australia’s most well-known RV publications for almost 10 years.