A guide to Yeperenye / Emily and Jessie Gap

The Yeperenye / Emily and Jessie Gaps are probably the first and the most noticeable features of the East MacDonnell Ranges. Labelled a nature park, they provide lovely opportunities to enjoy hiking, cycling, rock painting exploration and exciting meetings with local wildlife.

The two gaps belong to the Heavitree Range and they’ve long been considered key spiritual sights to the Eastern Arrernte Aboriginal people. Various other spots in the region have a similar statute and together, they form a Song Line or a so-called dream trail through the region.

Emily Gap

Entrance to Emily Gap

Jessie Gap

Walking in Jessie Gap

The Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature Park welcomes visitors year-round but the best time to go there is considered from April to September. The park is located about 10 kilometres east of Alice Springs on Ross Highway.

Useful information and comfort are provided through the following facilities within the nature park:

  • A picnic area
  • Fire pits at Jessie Gap
  • Public toilets
  • Information signs throughout the park


Things to see and do

Keep in mind that camping isn’t allowed in the nature park. For a map of the park, click here.

Yeperenye Walking/Cycling Trail 

A new Yeperenye walking/cycling trail was officially opened in the middle of 2021. The trail is the biggest investment in public infrastructure by an Aboriginal group in Central Australia. More than 30 Aboriginal workers put their hands together to set up the 7.2-kilometre trail. What’s impressive is the fact that all the work was done by hand and cultural supervisors were there during every step of the way to protect the important cultural and spiritual sights in the park.

The trail follows the contours of the East MacDonnell Ranges. Interpretive signage is available and so is wheelchair access. Seating is available at rest stops along the way.

Yeperenye Trail

Yeperenye Trail sign

Plants and Wildlife 

Those who want to experience the magnificence of nature would definitely get their heart’s desire at Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature Park. It’s an excellent spot for bird watching and you’ll get to acquaint yourself with some species you wouldn’t find anywhere else (including in different parts of Australia).

Whistling kites, budgies, honeyeaters and brown falcons are just some of the incredible beauties you’ll probably get lucky seeing. And birds aren’t the only magnificent creatures that inhabit the park. Magnificent desert lizards and other reptiles can be spotted across the two gaps.

And if you want more, you’ll see some beautiful desert flowers in bloom (depending on when you visit the park). These will contribute to really spectacular pictures you’ll get to take home as a memento of the incredible experience.

Long nosed Dragon

Long-nosed Dragon

Rock Art

As already mentioned, the nature park proudly displays some outstanding examples of Aboriginal rock art.

Emily Gap is a registered sacred site. It is the home of a large rock painting. The gap is associated with a dreamtime story about the caterpillar beings of Mparntwe / Alice Springs. These caterpillars were the ones that formed the gap, as well as many other topographical features of the region. In the painting, you will get to see the caterpillar sleeping. It’s one of the most popular landmarks in the nature reserve.

Caterpillar dreaming artworks are massive in size. Additionally, they’ve been preserved in excellent condition, giving you something to marvel at and wonder about.

Keep in mind that visitors cannot touch the rock art. Such measures are needed to preserve such culturally-significant pieces and allow future generations to experience their beauty and intricacy.

Rock Art Emily and Jessie Gap

Looking at rock art at Emily Gap

Safety Precautions

A few simple safety considerations will give you an enjoyable and exciting experience at Emily and Jessie Gaps.

In the period from October to March, temperatures in the region can get quite high. In some locations, the heat has been known to go over 40 degrees Celsius. Sunscreen, a hat and enough water to keep yourself hydrated will be essential. It is recommended to walk earlier in the day finishing by 11am to avoid the hottest part of the day, especially if the weather forecast on the day of your visit indicates extreme heat. 

Apart from being aware of the temperature, you’ll need to focus on a couple of additional safety considerations. There are safety signs throughout the park. Pay attention to the information on those in order to avoid some common dangers.

A few of the key safety precautions include:

  • Having insect repellent
  • Not touching plants and animals while hiking through the park
  • Making sure your shoes are supportive and comfortable enough
  • Wearing comfortable clothing
  • Keeping to designated roads and tracks, not straying away
  • Not climbing rocks in the gaps
  • Lighting fires only in the designated firepits (Jessie Gap Only)

Emily and Jessie Gap FAQ

The East MacDonnell Ranges are directly east of Alice Springs. You can access them via the Ross Highway, just south of town past the gap.
Emily Gap is the first stop along Ross Highway roughly 10 kilometres from the Stuart Highway intersection. Jessie Gap is a further 7 kilometres down Ross Highway.
Yes! The Yeperenye Trail opened in June 2021 and connects Emily and Jessie Gaps. The trail is Grade 1-2 and 7.2km end-to-end.
Yeperenye is the Arrente peoples word for Caterpillar, referring to their dreamtime story of how the MacDonnell Ranges was formed, the "Caterpillar dreaming". It is pronounced "ayepe-arenye".


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