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Things to Do in the West MacDonnell Ranges

The West MacDonnell Ranges is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in Australia—some of it world-famous and some of it still hidden. Immerse yourself in this ancient land, taking in thousands of years of sacred culture, geology, flora, and fauna. 

 

Walking and Hiking

Larapinta Trail

This is 223 kilometres of stunning trail through the MacDonnell Ranges from Alice Springs to Mt Sonder. You can tackle the whole thing or do smaller sections over the course of a day or a few days.

 

Mt Sonder

Marking one end of the Larapinta, Mt Sonder is one of the tallest mountains in NT, giving you commanding views of the national park.

Emily Gap 2

Mt Sonder Lookout

Ormiston Gorge

Ormiston Pound is a ring of small mountains midway along the West MacDonnell Ranges. Ormiston Gorge is set within the mountains offering beautiful water holes and lookouts to explore using short walks or half-day circuits. 

Standley Chasm

One of the trailheads along the Larapinta, Standley Chasm is a breathtaking sandstone gorge that in some sections narrows to just three metres. A 1.2km walk will take you down into the chasm, which is home to an array of unique flora and fauna.  

Serpentine Gorge

Serpentine Gorge forms another of the trailheads on the Larapinta. It is a hidden gem—a serene sheltered water hole amongst vibrant red rock escarpments.

Bindi Gallery

Ormiston Gorge

Iltja Ntjarra Selma Coulthard painting

Standley Chasm

Swimming

Ellery Creek Big Hole

This is an iconic water hole along the Larapinta with easy walking access and nearby camping sites. It is a large body of water set within the raw beauty of an ancient red rock gorge.

Ormiston Gorge

Set within the heights of Ormiston Pound, Ormiston Gorge is a stunning swimming spot where you can soak up the peaceful beauty of the surrounding rock formations and bush—either floating on the water or lounging on the sandy banks beside it. 

Glen Helen Gorge

Glen Helen Gorge is a large permanent water hole found on the Finke River. While swimming, visitors can often witness wildlife such as birds, lizards, and dingos come and drink from the water throughout the day.

Redbank Gorge

Redbank Gorge is a stunning swimming spot found at the base of Mt Sonder. Swim through narrow chasms of sheer red rock or soak up the sun on a sandy bank. 

Ellery Creek 131816

Ellery Creek Big Hole

glen helen

Glen Helen Gorge

Art and Culture

Standley Chasm

Standley Chasm, or Angkerle Atwatye, is managed by traditional local Arrernte owners, who offer art workshops, bush tucker tours, and language classes. 

Ochre Pits

The Ochre Pits are a site that has been used by traditional Arrernte owners for generations to mine the highly sort-after hues of red, orange, yellow, and white ochre. The ochre is used for rock art, ceremonial body painting, and adornment of tools such as spears. 

Angkerle Atwatye / Standley Chasm - Art and Cultural Tour

Camping

You will find campsites all along the West MacDonnell Ranges and throughout the national park. You can drop into sites for a night along your way or otherwise set up a base camp and explore from there. Make sure you book ahead of time and check what amenities are available at each site, as some sites are not equipped with any facilities. 

Glen Helen, Standley Chasm and Ormiston Gorge are privately owned and must be booked directly with the operators. The other campsites managed by Parks and Wildlife NT can be booked in advance online here, and no longer payable onsite (approximately $4/adult, $2/child per night).

 

West Macs Camping

Camping in the West MacDonnell Ranges

Book Your Adventure

Come and see the raw beauty of this ancient land with all its hidden nooks as well as its stunning panoramas. Book your adventure today!

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