In 1862 John McDouall Stuart (of Stuart Highway fame) blazed a trail from the south to the north of Australia across country that had never before be seen by a white man. Daly Waters is a series of natural springs and the discovery of this vital watering hole aided the drovers crossing the Murranji Stock Route - one of the Northern Territory's toughest stock tracks. Stuart named the place in honour of Sir Dominic Daly, Governor of South Australia.
The Overland Telegraph Line was a crucial link in outback communications and it reached Daly Waters in 1872. The historic 'Daly Waters Hotel' is an icon of the outback and was established in 1893 to service travellers and pastoralists. Eventually the place was granted a liquor license and became a vital refuelling stop for planes and passengers bound for England. Like many northern airstrips the Daly Waters aerodrome was taken over by the RAAF and American airforces during World War 2 and served as a launching pad for bombing runs into Japanese occupied Asia.
The pub is the centre piece of Daly Waters although there is some history to be found in the outlying grounds. Don't expect lavish service or turn of the century decor. It's strictly functional and a no-frills environment. The interior is decorated by the people who have passed through - expect foreign bank notes, photos and football jerseys pinned to the wall and 'G' Strings, Bra's and Jocks hanging from the ceiling.
Dinner is renowned for being - 'you get what's available' although you'll always find a steak or some barramundi for the barbecue. Don't think that this casual attitude equates to poor service, it's just the opposite. In fact the place is so relaxed and informal it keeps winning tourism awards.
Daly Waters is almost a compulsory stopover for travellers wanting to visit a 'real' outback pub and there's probably not a better example in the Northern Territory.
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