Australia’s Northern Territory will happily take William Creek to attract tourists

William Creek wants to secede and Australia's Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles says they will "happily take it." The remote South Australian outpost of William Creek is the entry point fro

Australia’s Northern Territory will happily take William Creek to attract tourists

William Creek wants to secede and Australia’s Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles says they will “happily take it.” The remote South Australian outpost of William Creek is the entry point from Coober Pedy to Lake Eyre in the Tirari Desert. William Creek offers the only petrol station between Marree, Coober Pedy and Oodnadatta on the Oodnadatta Track and has a campground, two motels and one of the world’s most remote pubs. The world’s largest cattle station is located in nearby Anna Creek station and the Woomera Prohibited Area, former testing ground for atomic weapons, is also nearby.

William Creek is a good halfway stop along the track, with accommodation and meals at the Hotel as well as a well-maintained, if somewhat dusty campground. In the Memorial Park it is possible to see diverse items such as the first stage of the Black Arrow Rocket, Britain’s only successful independent space launch that was recovered from the surrounding Anna Creek Station. More sobering is the commemorative inscription to a young Austrian woman, who lost her life in 1998 trying to walk back to William Creek from a 4WD vehicle bogged in the sand beside Lake Eyre.

William Creek is serviced twice weekly by the Coober Pedy Oodnadatta One Day Mail Run. The 4WD mail truck also carries some general freight and passengers.

Outback pilot Trevor Wright says William Creek, on the Oodnadatta Track several hundred kilometers south of the NT/SA border, is more aligned with the Territory lifestyle and a tourism treasure that is crying out to be developed.

“We are thinking about developing a passport system for William Creek, and displaying the NT emblem on it,” Mr. Wright said.

Dalhousie Springs, about 60km south of the border, are regarded as Australia’s biggest and best thermal springs. They are accessible only by a rough 4WD track and for the past three years Mr. Wright says he has tried to work with the SA government to allow plane access to the site.

“The spirit of the Outback is here in William Creek…. borders don’t matter,” Mr. Wright said.

SECEDE PLAN: The tiny Outback township of William Creek in far north South Australia.

SECEDE PLAN: The tiny Outback township of William Creek in far north South Australia.

“But we get more tourists coming down the (Oodnadatta) track than come up it and we have this significant tourist attraction of Dalhousie Springs, an oasis of the biggest thermal ponds in Australia, just short of the NT border and bugger-all people can get to it.

“We’ve tried for three years to get authority to fly tourists in there and we seem to be getting nowhere with the SA Government.”

SA Tourism Minister Leon Bignell said he could understand why the Northern Territory would want to “pinch” some of South Australia’s amazing tourism experiences.

“Trevor Wright should prepare a sound business case for his latest idea, as he was recently asked to do by the South Australian Tourism Commission and I would be more than happy to take up the fight on his behalf,” he said.

Mr. Wright, who for 25 years has operated tourist flights over Lake Eyre and his Outback charter company across most of Australia, now owns every building in the small outpost on the Oodnadatta Track. He also has been a key to developing the spectacular Painted Hills south east of Coober Pedy as an aviation tourist attraction.

Engulfed by the world’s biggest cattle station, the Kidman-owned Anna Creek Station, William Creek has a pub and well serviced caravan park and cabins as well as houses to service the 10 or so permanent workers in Mr. Wright’s businesses.

Mr. Giles said it was unsurprising that a “down south” town wanted to join the NT.

“We have a good government and a good future,” Mr. Giles said.

“If SA are happy to neglect a significant tourism attraction, we’ll happily take it off their hands. Get us a map and a pencil and we’ll start drawing lines.

“There are already good cross-border business relationships in the tourism industry and we should always be working to build better partnerships across the border.”

Mr. Bignell said that more than 600 tourism businesses operating in the Flinders Ranges and Outback SA region share in $346 million annual tourism expenditure according to Tourism Research Australia figures.

Where’s William Creek?

Mr. Wright is not the only northern SA tourism operator keen to work more closely with Central Australia and NT Tourism operators.

South Australia’s own tourism commission has been making moves to separate tourism marketing activities for the Flinders Ranges and outback areas.

Coober Pedy Old Timers Mine operator Trevor Berry said the region relied on a vibrant and strong tourism industry in Central Australia for its own prosperity.

“We need a strong Alice Springs to continue our success here,” Mr. Berry said.

“Our visitors are people travelling not to here, but making the most of the chance to visit here on their way to the great attractions Central Australia has to offer.”

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