PINE CREEK NORTHERN GOLDFIELDS LOOP AND SOUTHERN KAKADU
The town of Pine Creek is located 90km north of Katherine at the junction of the Stuart and Kakadu Hwys. Local Aboriginal peoples of the area are the Wagiman, Mayall, Arigoolia and Jawoyn.
Overland Telegraph line construction worker Sidney Herbert named Pine Creek in 1870. Herbert noted, “This creek was by no means large, but was remarkable for the pines growing there.”
During construction of the Overland Telegraph Line, posthole diggers discovered traces of gold and this led to the gold rush of 1871. Pine creek became a busy little mining town and around the year 1885 there were about 200 Europeans and 4000 Chinese working the gold fields
Today, Pine Creek is a small friendly town that has food, fuel, accommodation and health services to cater visitor’s needs. Local attractions include the collections of historic buildings and sites from the mining days, gorges and swimming holes.
Pine Creek holds the Gold Rush Festival annually in June, featuring the local goldpanning championships. The Pine Creek Races are held annually in May at Pussy Cat Flats Racecourse.
Pine Creek is an ideal spot for birds watching, with the largest number of bird species in the Northern Territory – including the elusive Hooded Parrot.
GROVE HILL HERITAGE MUSEUM
The Grove hill Historic licensed hotel and museum is located in the heart of the Northern Goldfields on the old railway line that ran between Larrimah and Darwin. It contains many historic artifacts and is a great place for birdwatchers. It is located on the Northern goldfields Loop which runs between the Stuart Hwy north of Emerald Spring’s and Kakadu Highway south of Pine Creek. Camping and accommodation is available.
Lake Copperfield is located 6km from Pine Creek. It is a cool deep lake, ideal for swimming, with a shady picnic area, toilets and large parking area. No dogs allowed.
Access to the lookout is via a steep bitumen road close to the centre of Pine Creek Township (no caravans). This lookout gives a panoramic view of the Enterprise Pit which is an open cut mine, now full of water to the depth of 135 meters. It began as the Enterprise Shaft in1906 and was worked intermittently until 1985 when Pine Creek Goldfields developed the open cut mine. During the 10-year life span of the goldfields mine 764,000 ounces of gold were extracted. Old Chinese mine shafts can also be viewed at the top of the lookout. Sunset views are spectacular from this vantage point.
This park is located next to the Railway Station and the old Station Master’s residence. It houses historic mining machinery from old mines in the Pine Creek area. Interpretive signs and displays give a comprehensive picture of life on the goldfields and the history of mining in the region. It is the venue for the Australia day festivities and local goldpanning championships held each year.
NATIONAL TRUST MUSEUM
This building was originally erected on the Goldfields at Burrundie in 1888 and was moved to Pine Creek in 1913. It has been the home of a mining warden, a doctor’s residence, clinic and dispensary. During the war, it was taken over as a military hospital. In the late 1940’s it was used as a post office and telephone exchange.
The building is now an excellent museum of local history and also houses the library which offers public internet access.
NORTHERN GOLDFIELDS LOOP
This heritage trail takes you from Pine Creek to Adelaide River, through Grove hill which has a heritage museum and where you can stop for a drink and a bite to eat. The route passes long abandoned and modern open cut mines that follow the Pine Creek Geosynclines’, a giant intrusions of mineral rich ore seams, the erosions of which has resulted in the alluvial gold in this region.
This interesting corrugated iron building was originally built at Mt Diamond around 1908 by Jimmy Ah Toy’s father, who used it as a butcher shop. It was dismantled and re-erected on its present site in 1915. The ant bed oven dates from 1922. It operated as a bakery until WW2
RAILWAY STATION MUSEUM AND STEAM LOCOMOTIVE
The museum is located in the original railway station building which was built in 1888 and served as a communications centre until 1976. On display are historic photos’ maps and memorabilia depicting the North Australian Railway. Check locally for opening times, gold coin donation for entry.
Next to the station is the 1877 Beyer Peacock locomotive which is restored as a “Centenary of Federation” project by the Pine Creek Community Government Council, believed to be the oldest restored locomotive in Australia. It operated between Darwin and Pine Creek from 1915 until it was decommissioned in 1945.
This gorge is located 22km south west of Pine Creek, further along from Lake Copperfield. It features swimming holes with sandy beaches sheltered by the steep red gorge walls. The first group of deep swimming pools is about 15 minute walk from the car park. Magnificent cliff-top views and secluded waterholes will reward the adventurous, with the local bushland abounding with wildlife. Camping and toilet facilities are available, road access during the wet season may be restricted. For more information on Umbrawarra Gorge click here to go to the National Parks Website.
WALK THROUGH TIME FOOTPATH
Heading south from the railway station and locomotive is the historic “Walk through Time” footpath, which is made up of nine bays of tiles painted by local artists. The tiles from a time line along the footpath, commemorating people who have made a contribution to Pine Creek, from the Aboriginal people to the miners and pastoralists of the 1960’s. More tile bays will be added in the future.
When the railway lines closed in1976, the disused cutting became the Water Gardens, this tropical garden is situated in the centre of town and has shaded picnic tables overlooking lily covered ponds.