Owen Springs Reserve

Owen Springs Reserve protects 1,570 square kilometres and was formerly Owen Springs cattle station.

It offers visitors an outback four-wheel drive (4WD) experience, a quiet setting for bush camping and ideal picnicking and birdwatching.

This picturesque reserve is dissected by the Hugh River, its broad, sandy banks lined by shady river red gums.

Rocky gorges and red sand country add to its scenic appeal and in several places waterholes stay for a period after rain, attracting a variety of wildlife.

The area protected in Owen Springs Reserve is rich in Territory history.

The main access road through the reserve closely follows explorer John McDouall Stuart's route through Central Australia during his early 1860s expeditions.

One of the major results from Stuart's explorations was the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line that originally followed his track through Lawrence Gorge in the Waterhouse Range.

Australia's early pastoral history is also featured at the old Owen Springs Homestead ruins, which is the site of the first station homestead built in Central Australia.

Get the Owen Springs Reserve fact sheet and map (616.5 kb).

Get the Owen Springs Reserve self drive information sheet (1.9 mb).

Owen Springs Reserve rock formation Owen Springs Reserve waterway Old Owen Springs homestead

What to see and do

You can see and do all of the following in the reserve:

  • bushwalking
  • wildlife spotting
  • four-wheel driving
  • birdwatching
  • ranger guided activities
  • historical ruins and stockyards
  • camping.

You can only camp near Redbank Waterhole and in areas between the signposts within Lawrence Gorge. There are no facilities. Camping fees apply and are payable on-site.

Redbank Waterhole is not permanent, so if it hasn't rained in a long time, the waterhole may have dried up.

How to get there

The park is only accessible with a high clearance 4WD vehicle.

There are two entrances to the reserve including either:

  • via Larapinta Drive, 50km west of Alice Springs
  • or along the Stuart Highway, 66km south of Alice Springs.

Check if this park is open

Find out if the Owen Springs Reserve is open.

Opening hours

All year round. The best time to visit is during the cooler months from April to September.

Roads may be impassable and closed after heavy rains.

Contact

Owen Springs Ranger Station phone: (08) 8956 7300

Contact Parks and Wildlife Alice Springs for more tourist information.

Facilities

Owen Springs Reserve has all of the following facilities:

  • information signs
  • ranger station – for emergency contact only
  • 4WD roads
  • bush campsites
  • wildlife
  • historical ruins and stockyards.

Please remember

When visiting the park remember all of the following:

  • stay on designated roads and tracks
  • historic, cultural items and wildlife are protected
  • dead fallen wood may be collected from the riverbanks as firewood in the reserve
  • used fallen wood sparingly for small fires in camping areas only
  • you must not take wood out of the reserve - help protect habitat for wildlife
  • bins are not provided, so take your rubbish with you
  • dogs are only permitted south of the Waterhouse Range and they must be kept under control.

Safety

You can have a safe and comfortable trip to Owen Springs Reserve by doing all of the following:

  • observe park safety signs
  • carry and drink plenty of water
  • wear a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, suitable clothing and footwear
  • avoid strenuous activity during the heat of the day
  • think about your health and fitness when choosing a walk.

Last updated: 13 October 2017