Trips around Alice – East and West MacDonnell Ranges


After we left Palm Valley we visited Hermannsberg, the first aboriginal mission in NT(Norther Territory), which was established by the Lutherans in 1877.  It is known for being the home of Albert Namatjura, the first famous aboriginal painter, and contained more interesting history of the region.  Back in Alice we got internet, got news, got mail, got groceries, got LPG, got money, voted and saw a doctor about my knee (busy afternoon).  The next day we got our diesel heater fixed and washed the van, which was very dirty!  The time in Alice seemed to go on jobs but we also saw the Beanie exhibition (from the Beanie Festival) and some galleries and the Centre Museum.  Family news-Amy’s Woman’s Masters Ultimate Frisbee team just got Bronze in the World Championships in London (behind USA  & Canada) and Helen and Alex are now in Spain starting their year long European trip.

Leaving Alice we headed for the East MacDonnell Ranges, the lesser known side of the ranges.  Another sunny day and we stopped for a look at  Emily and Jessie Gaps, both special aboriginal places with some rock paintings.  On the way to our camping spot, Trephina Gorge, we saw the largest ghost gum in the country.  Camping at an NT nature park in a beautiful gorge with lovely walks is not too hard to take.  We did the  Panorama walk up to the top of the gorge from 4pm so we got more lovely afternoon light as well as some sprinkles of rain.  Did another lovely walk in the morning around the rim and through the bottom of the gorge.  Then we drove, mostly gravel roads, to Hale River Resort at Old Ambulindum.  It took about 2 hours to do 55k’s.  Fabulous drive and our sense is that in the East MacDonnell Ranges one drives right through them whereas in the West Macs the road is further away from the Ranges.  Hardly anyone in the East Macs also.  Visited Arltunga Historical Reserve, the site of Central Australia’s first town, following the first gold discovery in 1887.  We were the only attendees for a ranger talk about gold mining, given by two gold prospectors, who knew their stuff and talked us through the stages of prospecting and mining gold (a complicated and arduous process).

Did one last visit to the West MacDonnells, camped at Glen Helen Gorge as we hadn’t seen that gorge, and got some lovely end of day photos there.  Got up and did a small walk on part of the Larapinta to the red rock arch, a nice way to end our time there.

Thank you to all who’ve made comments and sent emails in response to our blog.  We appreciate the feedback and its nice to keep in touch.  I have to confess to really, really missing internet/communication when we are in the bush camps.  We’re about to say ‘goodbye’ to the Centre and head north.


In Emily Gap with the aboriginal rock art
Emily Gap


Jesse Gap


The largest ghost gum in Aus


Sign by the ghost gum
Looking down into Trephina gorge
Amazing panoramic views
More gorge views


Trephina Gorge Rim walk
Looking back into Trephina Gorge


Driving in the East MacDonnells


Sun setting on the rocks at Glen Helen Gorge
Looking into Glen Helen Gorge


Red rock arch on the Larapinta trail


The arch in this chain of red rocks


4 thoughts on “Trips around Alice – East and West MacDonnell Ranges

  1. Loving following the progress of our grey nomad friends. Enjoying being drawn in by the colours and vistas. Sending our love , safe travels.

  2. Wow! Great light at Glen Helen Gorge and a master stroke to wear a red jumper for the arch photo – the red really draws your eye to the arch.
    It all sounds fantastic Dick and Pat. Good on you.

  3. looks like you are having the most amazing time and seeing parts of Australia that few people get to see.
    Congratulations and enjoy ….why we are still caught up in the rat-race.

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