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A Guide to Simpsons Gap

The West MacDonnell Ranges / Tjoritja has several scenic gaps, and one of the most prominent ones is Simpsons Gap. The gap has been carved out of the ranges by Roe creek, and here water flows through the small gap in the MacDonnell Ranges. Located just 18 kilometres from Alice Springs, this permanent waterhole is home to resident plants and wildlife, including the black-footed-rock wallaby.

Simpsons Gap is a spiritual place for the local Arrente aboriginal people, calling it Rungutjirpa. A lot of dreaming stories and trails cross this site.

The gap also lies on the Larapinta Trail and is a major attraction for tourists interested in hiking, and short tours. You can enjoy many short walks that pass through native plants like ghost gums and enjoy the spectacular view of the range.

Simpsons Gap aerial

Facilities

The Northern Territory Government and traditional Aboriginal owners manage the Simpsons Gap area to provide the best facilities to make your tours and trips memorable. Some of the facilities you can enjoy here include:

  • Picnic tables: There are shady picnic areas near Simpsons Gap and the ranger station
  • BBQs: You can take advantage of free gas barbeques and cook your lunch or dinner
  • Clean, flushing toilets behind the carpark
  • Drinking water and handwashing facilities
  • Parking for coaches and cars

For a map of the park, click here. Use the Avenza Maps App to track your walk on the interactive park map.

 

Cycling

Simpsons Gap is just 20 minutes drive from Alice Springs, along sealed road. However, if you want to enjoy cycling, there is a sealed 17kms one-way bicycle path that begins opposite Flynn's Grave. The Grave is 7kms from Alice Springs CBD along Larapinta Drive. If you and your family members are confident bike riders, this can be a pleasant ride for the whole family.

Don't forget to take your helmet, plenty of water, and snacks. Be sun smart, use sun protection, and choose the coolest part of the day for this ride.

Simpsons Gap

Walks

There are several walking opportunities within the Simpsons Gap area. All these walking paths have well-marked directions signs. The prominent walks are:

Ghost Gum Walk

Ghost Gum walk is less than a kilometre walk behind the ranger station. It's an easy walk of about 15 minutes. This nature trail introduces you to the flora, fauna, and geology of the surrounding area, including ancient Ghost Gum or Corymbia aparrerinja.

Cassa Hill Walk

The Cassa Hill Walk is a 1.5km short and steady loop walk, and it takes about one hour to finish this walk. After following creek beds, you will reach the top of a small hill where you can enjoy unparalleled vistas of the MacDonnell Ranges and the Simpsons Gap area.

Woodland Trail 

In this 17km easy walk, you will reach some lesser-visited sections of Simpsons Gap. You walk out to the Bond Gap on the Woodland Trail and return through section 2 of the Larapinta Trail. After another few kilometres, you will reach the Gap itself. The Gap has a narrow cleft with ice-cold water. You may spot small black-footed rock wallabies here on the rocky slopes. Though they blend with the rocks, you may be lucky to see the gorgeous small creature if you keep your eyes open. This Simpsons Gap walk also displays different examples of Mulga woodland.

 

Simpsons Gap couple

Larapinta Trail

The Larapinta Trail is an adventurous 223km long hiking track through the West MacDonnell Ranges. This walking track has 12 sections, and Simpsons Gap is part of sections 1 and 2. If you want to complete the whole track, you need 1/2 days to complete each section. 

Section 1 and 2 are moderate-to-difficult in walking as they have some steep ascents. Section 1 starts from Alice Springs Telegraph Station ending at Simpsons Gap and is a 24.7km walk. Trekking on this path can give you views of Alice Springs and good birdwatching opportunities. Section 2 is a 26.2km walk that starts with Simpsons Gap and ends at Jay Creek. You can enjoy walking through the home of brushtail possum colonies. Also, don't forget to explore and enjoy the rock outcrop landscape here, which is around 2 billion years old.

Camping at Simpsons Gap is reserved for Larapinta Trail hikers only.

 

Simpsons Gap ranger talk

Simpsons Gap FAQ

Simpsons Gap is known as 'Rungutjirpa' to the Arrernte Aboriginal people. They believe it was the mythological home of a group of giant goanna ancestors.
Swimming is not permitted at Simpsons Gap.
Yes. You can access Simpsons Gap with any vehicle.
Simpsons Gap is located 24 kilometres west of Alice Springs. You can travel west along Larapinta Drive for 17kms then turn right at the sign onto Darken Drive towards Simpsons Gap carpark.

Alternatively, you can ride a bike to Simpsons Gap along the cycle path (17km one way).
Walking
Cycling
Birdwatching
Picnicking
Have a BBQ
Wildlife observing
Ranger guided information sessions

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