The first documented explorers to reach the area were Edward John Eyre in 1840 and Charles Sturt in 1845. 

Both were singularly unimpressed by the barren countryside and dry watercourses. The names they gave Mt Deception and Mt Hopeless, reflect their disappointment. Other explorers followed in their wake – the most well known of these was John McDouall Stuart, who explored the area in the 1850s on behalf of the Chambers brothers. The town and Beltana homestead were for some time, the starting points of many central Australian expeditions and explorations including those by Ernest Giles in 1872, Peter Warburton in 1873, Ross in 1874, Lewis in 1874 -1875, and Lawrence Wells in 1883.