Owen Springs Reserve of 1780 square kilometres, was formerly Owen Springs cattle station. It was acquired by the Northern Territory Government in 2000 and opened in 2003 for public enjoyment. The area protected within the Owen Springs Reserve is steeped in Territory history. The main access track through the Reserve closely follows John McDouall Stuart's route through the MacDonnell Ranges. His explorations between 1860 and 1862 opened Central Australia to white settlement.
Stuart, William Kekwick and Benjamin Head were the first white men to travel through this country. On 11 April 1860, while making their way northwards along the Hugh River, they discovered a large waterhole that Stuart named Owen Springs.
One of the immediate results of Stuart's explorations was construction of the Overland Telegraph Line that originally followed the Hugh River through Lawrence Gorge in the Waterhouse Range.
Even before the Line was completed in August 1872, cattleman William Gilbert was on his way from South Australia to establish a cattle station here. The Old Owen Springs Homestead was the first station homestead built in Central Australia.