Trephina Gorge & Panorama Walk

Trephina Gorge is as scenic as any in the MacDonnell Ranges and a must-see destination close to Alice Springs, best appreciated by spending a night or two in one of its well-sited campgrounds and exploring on foot. This double-loop walk immerses you in gorge scenery at creek level and showcases the gorge from both rims. Try to start early for the play of dawn light on the gorge’s purple and red quartzite rock.


Grade: Moderate | Time: 2.5 hours | Distance: 5.7km figure-8 loop


Walk directions

Step 1

After taking in the views of Trephina Bluff, head for a sign just beyond the eastern edge of the Bluff campground. Walk upstream on the Gorge Stroll between road and creek bed. The gorge walls start to rise straight away, coloured deep red in the upper layers, purple in the lower. Pass through the Gorge campground, descending towards the creek and a 3-way path junction.


Views over Trephina Gorge


Step 2

Join the creek bed and follow orange arrows upstream, hugging cliffs to the left. Here Trephina Creek has cut a deep, swathe through the landscape, forming sheer quartzite cliffs on both sides. River red gums line the sandy creek bed and ghost gums grow precariously on the rocky ledges above a semi-permanent waterhole. Look around for black-footed rock wallabies that frequent the area. Depending on water levels, bird life can also be prolific here: Pacific herons, black-fronted plovers and fairy martins may be seen. The creek swings right and you reach a sign marking the end of the walk’s gorge section.


Down in the Gorge


Step 3

At this sign, follow orange triangles to ascend the rock above the creek bed. Once on top, flat rock provides a great vantage point over the sandy creek bend. Follow the orange markers down stone steps and cross a gully to soon return to the escarpment. Detour to a lookout rock directly above the waterhole for more great gorge views, but take care near the cliff edges.


Step 4

Return to the path and look for a small post marking the Ridgetop Walk diversion to Turners Lookout which branches off sharply right (see Walk variation). Continue straight ahead. The path remains on rock close to the gorge rim until it descends steeply to regain the creek bed at the signed junction. Now follow red arrows across the broad, sandy creek bed to start the Panorama Walk, which has an uphill stretch more taxing than that on the Gorge Walk.


Step 5

At a second track junction, head left uphill, winding northwest among eremophila (native fuschias) to reach a viewpoint across to Trephina Gorge’s western headland. After continuing uphill beside a cliff line, the path swings around right, generally heading southeast. Now the views are of Trephina Bluff to the south and they improve as you gain height.


Views over Trephina Gorge


Step 6

The main lookout and Panorama Walk highpoint are atop a conical hill from where the vista is indeed panoramic. The path now follows the ridgetop through a sparse forest of corkwoods and mallee before dropping down towards the head of a side valley near an old gate close to the park boundary.


Step 7

The views down valley are lovely and the greenery surprisingly lush. The path swings around right (to the west) as you descend to a side creek then follows close by this to bring you to the bed of Trephina Creek and the end of the loop.


Trephina Bluff


Step 8

Now, for variety, return to Bluff Campground by following the creek bed downstream.


Getting there: Drive south from Alice Springs on the Stuart Highway and turn left on the Ross Highway. Follow this for 66km then turn left for Trephina Gorge Nature Park. Continue for 9km to reach a right turn for Bluff Campground where parking is available. 


Walks book cover 

Text, images and maps taken from the guide book, Best Walks of the Red Centre, courtesy and copyright © Woodslane Press, John & Gillian Souter. For 15% off your copy (and other great Red Centre books) visit here.


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