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Daly Waters Northern Territory: The Famous Daly Waters Pub & Sights to See in Town

Arriving in the town of Daly Waters is like stepping back in time… you’re just not exactly sure what time you’ve arrived in. Luckily, Daly Waters has a sign to let you know it’s exactly 7 years and 15 minutes.

Daly Waters is located some 620 kilometres south of the territory capital Darwin, 916 kilometres north of Alice Springs, and 307 kilometres south of Katherine. It got its name from John McDouall Stuart when he attempted to cross Australia from the south to the north on his third journey. He named the series of natural springs here after Sir Dominick Daly, the Governor of South Australia from 1861 to 1862. 

There are many amazing things to see and do in this part of the Northern Territory. However, what’s most interesting about Daly Waters is that it was made famous by a pub!

In a random conversation with a seasoned traveller when I was on the Spirit of Tasmania, I was instructed that the Daly Waters pub is a must-add to any NT travel to-do list.

So when I saw the sign for the turn-off to Daly Waters on route to Darwin, I took it. I promised the traveller I’m met on the Spirit that I’d have a beer for him at the pub. Although it turned out to be a lemonade (don’t drink and drive!) the sentiment was there!

As I drove into the main street, I got a sense that disregarded movie props from an outback adventure x Mad Max film had collectively decided to call the town their home. Random machine carcases line the main street, including an aeroplane with the original seats swapped out for toilets!

More About the Daly Waters Pub

The Daly Waters Pub is located on Stuart Street. If you’re coming from Darwin, make a right turn on Stuart Highway, and you’ll be 3 kilometres away from the pub. From Alice Springs, make a left on the same highway. 

It was in 1930 when Bill and Henrietta Pierce built the Daly Waters Pub. And during its beginnings, the place regularly witnessed brawls, shootouts, and even cattle stampedes. 

But today, these have been replaced by its Happy Hour and happy customers who enjoy not just good food and drinks but also its unique interior, decorated with memorabilia left behind by visitors and travellers.

People Leave Their Mark On the Daly Waters Pub

Speaking of its unique interior and memorabilia left behind by visitors, it’s interesting to note how people like to leave their mark when they visit. 

Local mythology is that this funny tradition started sometime in the 80s with a coach driver who made a bet with his female passengers. If they couldn’t finish x bottles of beer, they’d have to leave their bra behind. It kind of stuck and people still do this to this day. While some do it more discreetly, there are some others who leave their bras right at the bar! 

How to Enjoy the Daly Waters Pub

With its outback hospitality, you can just sit back and relax here, drink a glass of your favourite beer, and just forget the hustle and bustle of city life. 

Choose from the 6 Amber Nectar varieties on tap, and drink it very cold. Otherwise, you can choose from their extensive collection of Australian wines.

Don’t miss their pub food, which has won numerous awards and covers all types of budgets. Aside from their famous fresh salads, and excellent menu, you might want to try their damper bread, which is made from scratch. For those of you of the non-vegetarian persuasion, there’s the kangaroo loin, chicken schnitzels, and crocodile slider. 

And if you come with your family or company and want to stay the night in the area, the Daly Waters Pub also has accommodations like their budget pub rooms, motel rooms, and spacious cabins. It’s also a great place to keep up with your reading of the best #vanlife books during your solo travel. 

Interestingly, since there is no visitor centre in Daly Waters, this historic pub acts as one, giving tourists and travellers the information they need whenever and wherever possible. 

Places and Things to Do in Daly Waters

Aside from experiencing the Daly Waters Pub, here are more places and things to do in the town:

Discover Its Aboriginal Arts Centre

Daly Waters centres on the Aboriginal community of Nauiyu, and the area’s traditional owners are the Malak Malak people. Here in Nauiyu, you can find the Merrepen Arts Centre, which is composed of 130 member artists who work on different mediums, both traditional and contemporary. 

You’ll be delighted to see their works, which include batik fabric designs, hand-printed linocut fabric, and screen prints. Don’t just enjoy watching the artists as they show off their crafts but also purchase their creations for your souvenir. 

Visit Tim’s Junk Yard Daly Waters

With a $3 ‘trust base’ entry fee, Tim’s Junk Yard is worth every dollar.

I overlooked the sign for the entry fee on the way in, but when I saw it on the way out I hurried back to my van to retrieve some coins and hurried on back before Tim noticed my error. The penalty for non-payment seemed a little extreme as the pic below illustrates.

The floors, walls, and even the roof are full of history and definitely a dash of humour. I’m not sure who Tim is, but by the numerous signs around the space, he doesn’t appear to be a big fan of children – a theme that persists across much of the signage in town.

Learn About the Significance of the Daly Waters Aviation Complex

The aviation complex has a special significance to the aviation heritage of the Northern Territory as it serves as a vital link to its postal communications. It served as the distribution point for the different mail services between Australia’s north end and its remainder cities and towns. 

One of many planes in Daly Waters

Aside from this, the complex houses the Northern Territory’s oldest hangar, which the Sidney Williams Company brought to the town in 1930. Additional elements that were built in the succeeding years turned the place into an international aerodrome, allowing prominent people at that time to visit as well as numerous aircraft to refuel.

Visit the Stuart Tree Historic Site

At one look, you wouldn’t expect something special or unique about the Stuart Tree Historic Site. After all, what could be extraordinary about an ordinary dead tree trunk somewhere in Daly Waters’ outskirts? However, fenced by an ageing metal, the tree has been carved with an ‘S’, which is the initial of John McDouall Stuart who gave the town its name. Historians assume that it was Stuart himself who carved it on the tree. 

Today, you can see a plaque or information board on the site, which sheds some light on the significance of the tree trunk. 

Admire the Awesome Birdlife in Daly Waters Northern Territory 

When it comes to birdwatching, the Northern Territory is the place to be and that includes Daly Waters. This is because the area is home to many species of rare birds, including some that are endemic to the Northern Territory such as the Hooded Parrot, Banded Fruit-Dove, White-lined Honeyeater, Chesnut-Quilled Rock Pigeon, and the Helmeted Friarbird. 

Lee and Jenny’s Bushcamp also offers a great place from where you can spot this amazing birdlife thanks to its abundance of nature, characterised by a winding river and bushland. To date, there have already been over 100 species seen in the area, including black cockatoos, kookaburras, egrets, curlew, kites, sea eagles, and kingfishers.

If you don’t make it to the Bushcamp you can still get your fix for a bird or two in town. Chickens, cows, (possibly a donkey or two), and horses roam freely along the main street of Daly Waters.

Take a Side Trip to Tennant Creek

While you’re already exploring Daly Waters, why not take a side trip to the magnificent Tennant Creek, still located on the Stuart Highway and is the Nothern Territory’s seventh-largest town. A hamlet between Darwin and Alice Springs, this place is said to be the real Australia, giving you that pleasant country feeling and letting you experience the Outback with its cattle stations, unique Aboriginal culture, stunning rock formations, and gold mining heritage. 

Stay Overnight in Daly Waters Northern Territory

If you’re looking to stay overnight in Daly Waters, you can definitely do so with its several accommodation options. There’s not a lot of it though, but you can check out this recommendation.

Daly Waters Pub Accommodation 

Daly Waters Pub also offers accommodation for those who want to spend the night in the area, ranging from cabins, budget rooms, motels with ensuites, caravans, and camp spots.

Caravan Park

The caravan park is next door to the pub. They have both powered and unpowered sites, depending on your preferences. 

Powered Site

Their powered site is an area with spots for up to six people. You can directly check-in upon arrival unless you are a big group or ride a coach, which requires booking. The price starts at $16 per night, per person, but kids below 16 years old are free of charge.  Always double-check prices rather than relying on this website, as prices can change 🙂

Unpowered Site

For the unpowered site, the specifics are similar to the powered site; however, the price is cheaper, starting at $10 per night, per person. 

You will love the facilities here, which include a toilet and a pool that make it a great stop for your journey from Darwin. While enjoying your Barra burger, sit back and enjoy the service and sun by the pool or get on with working remotely since there is a good Telstra network in the area. 

The cost to stay in this caravan park is the same as that of the powered and unpowered sites, with kids below 12 years old able to stay for free.  Again, always check prices as they can change.

Lee and Jenny’s Bushcamp

If you want to experience camping, then, Lee and Jenny’s Bushcamp is a great option.

If you prefer their powered site, you will enjoy grassy, shady areas, which can accommodate your campervan and all types of big rigs. Plus, they have modern bathroom amenities, river access, and campfires.

Meanwhile, their unpowered site offers you opportunities to be one with nature thanks to their grassy and shady areas where you can pitch a tent or park your campervan. There are also modern bathroom amenities as well as campfires. The best part is that it is pet-friendly, and the Daly River is just nearby. 

For more inquiries, you may check their website

Best Time to Visit Daly Waters 

Make the most out of your visit by going there between the months of March and October and even November (but it’s getting pretty hot by that time!!). The warmest months are September, October, November, and December, making the place a great escape from the winter in other places. 

While its dry season is from June to August, the rainiest months are January, February, and December. 

Some More Important Information About Daly Waters

Internet Access 

Generally, the internet access in the Northern Territory is ok, but not great. Especially if you’re used to speeds in major cities (e.g. Melbourne and Sydney).  

Public Toilets

Thanks to the National Public Toilet Map, you can now easily find the nearest public toilet to you. In Daly Waters, you can find one at Shell Dunmarra Wayside Inn, located on Stuart Highway. It has restrooms for males and females. 

Petrol Stations

If you need to gas up, there are two petrol stations in Daly Waters. One is in Daly Waters Hi Way Inn, located on Cnr Carpentaria Highway. The other station is Shell on Stuart Highway.

Phone Coverage

Before leaving for Daly Waters, make sure to check if your service provider has phone coverage at your destination through their website:

It’s great news that the most populous areas in the Northern Territory have mobile coverage. However, it’s also important to note that many areas of the Outback have dead spots, which is why I carry Starlink with me when I travel.

Final Thoughts

Daly Waters offers you one of the most unique pub experiences of the Outback. I’m glad I made a promise to stop here on my travels and recommend you do the same 🙂

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