Wycliffe Well is one of several roadhouse/diner/pub/motel/caravan park/store complexes on the Stuart Highway north of Alice Springs.
But Wycliffe Well is unique. Why? Because it is the self-proclaimed UFO capital of Australia – if not the world. As such, it’s worth stopping over to see if those claims are true.
There was once a book in the roadhouse where visitors were encouraged to report their sightings, but it was stolen.
By aliens, perhaps? Although the book is no longer available, the many newspaper clippings inside detail an astonishing array of sightings over the years. In fact, it is claimed that if you scan the skies at night, you are more likely than not to sight a UFO.
But whether or not there’s any connection with the 300+ varieties of beer once stocked at Wycliffe Well during its heyday is unclear.
The aliens standing guard at the roadhouse entrance, and souvenirs like alien imprint caps and stubbie holders inside are the first introduction to Planet Wycliffe Well.
Through the gates, most of the motel and campground complex buildings, walls and other flat surfaces are colourful with UFO and alien abduction murals. Other random artworks adorn building interiors and fences. Bizarre statues of Elvis, the Phantom, the Hulk, a giant spotted pig are randomly scattered throughout the grounds.
Don’t ask me why, but it all contributes to the impression of being in a parallel universe! Which, I guess, is the next best thing to the UFO sighting we never had.
We headed for the ‘Elvis’ campsite right up near the Galaxy Auditorium opposite the train station. The now abandoned train once made a daily trip through the park, past Mount Wycliffe and part way around the lake complex. Then it had to reverse back to the station as there wasn’t enough track of the right gauge to go right around.
The surrounding plains are flat as a pancake. Even so, Wycliffe Well has its own mountain – Mount Wycliffe – built from cleverly painted corrugated iron nailed to the side of the machinery shed. Climbing it via the staircase leading from ground to summit is easy. From the top there are stunning views over the Wycliffe Well realm.
The mountaintop is the best place from which to spot any statues and other ephemera (read: photo opportunities) you’ve missed!
The roadhouse museum is full of random eclectica from around the world, not all of it UFO related. It offers a welcome diversion when you tire of watching botched reverse parking as travelers attempt to back their rigs into the not-quite-standard-sized sites.
The man-made lake fed by an underground aquifer, is large enough for fishing and crabbing. With plenty of trees around, it also makes a nice spot to relax, and if the fish aren’t cooperating, there’s a statue of a large barramundi to show you what you’re missing. The water purity makes this one of the best spots in the Northern Territory to fill up your tanks.
The Galaxy Auditorium once housed a restaurant and that large selection of exotic beers, and the annual UFO convention was held there. It’s now closed, but meals are available at the roadhouse.
And if there’s not enough excitement at the park, the Devil’s Marbles/Karlu Karlu reserver is an easy 20 minute drive north up the highway. It’s perfect for those archetypal outback sunrise/sunset shots over the rocks. The 4WD only lytwelepenty/Davenport Ranges National Park is also nearby, for those who want to venture a little further into the remote Northern Territory.
Someone with a vivid imagination, determination and healthy dose of eccentricity once developed this outback oasis into one of the quirkiest spots in the country. Nowadays it’s still worth a visit, even if just to check if the aliens have actually turned up.
Just as well humans are also welcome …
- Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles
- Davenport Ranges National Park
- Wycliffe Well Scenic Loo
- Devils Marbles Scenic Loo