Well reconstruction gives insight into 19th century Central Australia


The Northern Territory Government has funded the reconstruction of an old 19th century well at a popular Stuart Highway rest stop, Ryan Well, 129 kilometres north of Alice Springs.

Ryan Well is one of a series of wells associated with the movement of travellers and livestock along the Overland Telegraph Line.

Water was drawn from the well using an elaborate ‘whip’ system driven by camels, offering a unique insight into Central Australian life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Taking its name from stonemason, Ned Ryan, who along with his team, hand dug the well in 1889, the well has long been a popular stop for motorists along the Stuart Highway.

The restoration was instigated by Territory Families, Housing and Communities’ Heritage Branch, and funded through the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics’ Minor New Works Program on a reserve managed by the Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security.

Materials used in the restoration replicate the site’s historic significance and reflect the well’s original design.

Accompanying the whip system is a new timber head structure, troughs and metal camel sculpture. The existing water tank stand has also been restored.

Travellers on the Stuart Highway can now enjoy the historical significance of the well and get their very own selfie with the camel.

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