There is a small graveyard in front of the Barrow Creek Telegraph Station. It contains the remains of two telegraph station workers killed in a surprise attack by Aboriginals in 1874. Connecting the Continent gives the details of what happened.
Barrow Creek was chosen as a site for an Overland Telegraph Line repeater station by John Ross in September 1871. The site was chosen due to the presence of surface water and a good chance of water by sinking a well about 10 to 12 feet. Construction began in January 1872 and the station was officially opened on 16 August 1872 by Charles Todd. It was one of 15 such repeater stations. The Barrow Creek Station was part of a single strand of wire ~3000 km long that went from Port Augusta to Port Darwin and connected Central Australia to the rest of the world. In 1935 the Line stopped carrying international traffic when submarine cables were laid across the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
When World War II broke out, Darwin telephone communications became important. Cross arms and new copper wire were added to the old telegraph poles so they could carry trunk line telephone calls. The Barrow Creek Telegraph Station became a telephone linesmen's depot. Over time the Station was also used as a post office, an Aboriginal ration depot, a police station, and a staging camp for army convoys during World War II. In 1941 a storm destroyed the roof of the Telegraph Office and Australian Army personnel replaced the roof with the one it has now. In 1980 the microwave telecommunications link replaced the telephone carrier wave system.
Tom Roberts, the last linesman to live at the Station, came for a week in 1952 but ended up staying until 1986 acting as caretaker. The Barrow Creek Telegraph Station is now one of only four remaining intact telegraph stations along the original Overland Telegraph Line. In 2010 the population of Barrow Creek was 11 people all of whom worked at the roadhouse. There are two nearby Aboriginal communities: the Tara community with ~80 people which is 12 km northeast, and Pmatajunata at Stirling Station which is about 35 km from Barrow Creek and has ~120 people.
The Barrow Creek area is the traditional home of the Kaytetye Aboriginal people and may have been a sacred site. Humans have lived in Australia, and perhaps this area, for at least 40,000 years. John McDouall Stuart passed through the area in 1860. He named a creek near the current town after John Henry Barrow, a preacher, journalist and politician who was born in England in 1817 and migrated to South Australia in 1853. With the arrival of Europeans in the latter part of the 19th century, settlers competed with the Kaytetye for land and resources, especially water. Sadly, cultural misunderstandings on land and property rights resulted in battles and mutual killings. This is why the Telegraph Office was built with gun ports.
The Blacksmith Workshop was first built in 1879 and reconstructed in 1965-66 by Telecom Australia. At the same time, stone fences were built around the Station buildings.
Although the Telegraph Office building was completed in 1872, the Wagon Shed and Blacksmith Workshop were not completed until 1879.