Although Wycliffe Well only has a few permanent inhabitants, many travellers can't miss it while driving on the Stuart Highway from or to the Red Centre. In Australia, a small settlement like this is known as a roadhouse, a service stop for petrol, food and accommodation for long drives through the Outback.
But Wycliffe Well is not just another roadhouse — it is the self-proclaimed UFO Capital of Australia. According to its own brochure, "UFO sightings are so common, that if you stayed up all night looking, you would be considered unlucky not to see anything, rather than lucky to see something". It's unbelievably cheesy, but the local restaurant is filled with newspaper clippings and images to persuade sceptical visitors. For its remote location, it is remarkable that it also boasts one of the largest selections of beer in the Northern Territory.
The summers in Wycliffe Well are known for their intense heat. Expect temperatures to be around 35°C at daytime and around 21°C at night time. Fortunately all the rooms have air-conditioning! The winters are easier to comprehend with daytime temperatures around 20°C, but it doesn't cool down much at night with temperatures hovering around 15°C.
There are two ways to get in: either from the north or from the south on the Stuart Highway. From the north you will come from Tennant Creek, while from the south you will come from Alice Springs in the Red Centre.
Greyhound Australia (tel. 1300 473 946, Australian phones only) offers bus services between Wycliffe Well and other places in Australia. Every day the bus from Alice Springs leaves at 7:30PM to arrive about 5 hours later at Wycliffe Well. From Darwin, the coach leaves exactly at noon, passes Katherine at 5:25PM and arrives at Wycliffe Well around 4:45AM.
Walk. The roadhouse area is so small, distances can easily be bridged on foot.
As many previous sightings have 'proved', this is your best bet in Australia to see UFOs. In fact, according to The Sun Herald, it is ranked fifth for top reported UFO activity in the whole world. It all started during World War II, when servicemen who stayed at Wycliffe Well kept records in an old bindered book of nightly-seen unidentified objects. This book used to be on the front counter of the local restaurant for everyone to see, but has been stolen in 1990. Since then a new book is kept which includes possible sightings from the early 1990s. It's quite fun to browse through the logs filled with details of claimed sightings.
If you get tired of all the alien encounters, you might want to appreciate the stunning sunrises and sunsets. The sky of the Northern Territory is known the world over, and Wycliffe Well proves no exception. Get up early or stay up late and you'll be able to make beautiful pictures of the sun. Due to the small amount of lighting at night time, you can see an amazing amount of stars in the sky (but the front lights of the occasional road train might ruin your view).
Another sight is the Wycliffe Well Railway. This sugar cane train originally from the state of Victoria has been relocated to Wycliffe Well in 1998.
It is only a 300 metre walk from the settlement to the nearby Lake Wycliffe. It is a 10-acre man-made recreational lake that holds about 150 million litres of water. As of 2008, the lake is still under construction, but ask the staff that you want to see the project and its construction and they will bring you there.
There's not much for sale in Wycliffe Well beyond walls of UFO-related souvenirs — this settlement basically exists for buying basic amenities. So fill up your car with petrol, water, food and drinks, because you still have a long way to go through the Outback.
The restaurant is quite large compared to the size of the settlement, it has a total of 300 seats for all its visitors. There's some excellent crab and other seafood to be had here, thanks to the lakes nearby. Mains $16-25.
Wycliffe Well's local restaurant boasts some of the largest selections of beer in the Northern Territory — about 300 different labels when fully stocked. Just try some brands you've never had before and have a chat with the locals. The nightlife usually consists of a free country and western sing-along, so you better prepare your singing skills while driving down here...
There is only one accommodation in the settlement, the Wycliffe Well Holiday Park [dead link] (tel. +61 8 8964 1966). They offer basic double rooms from $60 with air-conditioning and linen, and "ensuite" double rooms from $120 onwards that also feature TV and tea/coffee. Camping is allowed, as they have about fifty electricity powered sites for $26 and a virtually unlimited amount of unpowered sites for $25. Barbecue and laundry machines are spread over the campsites. Every room or camping spot has Wi-Fi access.
The settlement is completely covered by Wi-Fi access. The hotspots are hosted by NomadNet, a company that delivers Wi-Fi access to remote settlements in the Outback. You need to buy a NomadNet card in order to use their services, but you're in luck — they can even be bought in convenience stores elsewhere in Australia before you begin your journey through the Outback. $5 per hour.
There are only two ways out: either north or south on the Stuart Highway:
- Alice Springs — surrounded with natural beauty, 380 km south
- Davenport Range National Park — 4WD required to explore this national park, only 25 km north
- Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve — most important sight of the Barkly region, only 30 km north
- Tennant Creek — some nice Outback pubs, 130 km north
|Routes through Wycliffe Well|
|Tennant Creek ←||N S||→ Alice Springs|