Home of the Western Arrernte people
Tjoritja West MacDonnell National Park stretches 161km west of Alice Springs and will draw you in with its majestic beauty.
Known as Tjoritja by the Traditional Owners, the continuation of cultural practices and a connection to the land is highly significant for local Aranda Aboriginal culture.
Cool scenic gorges are important refuges for plants and animals, many are found only here and some are relicts of a bygone era of tropical forests.
Some of the sites you shouldn't miss on a journey here include Simpsons Gap, Ochre Pits, Standley Chasm (privately operated) and the permanent waterholes at Ellery Creek Big Hole, Ormiston Gorge and Glen Helen Gorge.
Avid and experienced walkers can trek the West MacDonell Ranges on the Larapinta Trail. The trail is broken into 12 sections and can be completed in stages or all at once.
Just 12 kilometres from Glen Helen Lodge, Ormiston Gorge is the best known gorge in the West MacDonnell Ranges. It is accessible by sealed roads and is the trailhead for sections 9 and 10 of the Larapinta Trail.
It is a great place for a swim year round, or to see the towering walls of the gorge and pound, local plants and wildlife. Most popular with visitors are the five minute Waterhole Walk (which has wheelchair access to the end of the paved path) and the 20 minute one way Ghost Gum Lookout Walk.
Another way to explore the area is by walking the Ormiston Pound Walk, which is a three to four hour circuit that follows the rocky slope into the flat expanse of the pound and back along the gorge by the main waterhole.
Get the Ormiston Gorge fact sheet and map .
The Ormiston Gorge Kiosk is open 10-4 daily from 1 March to 31 October and offers coffee, cold drinks, icecreams and lunches.
Simpsons Gap is one of the most prominent gaps in the West MacDonnell Ranges. After a stop at the visitor centre, try some wildlife spotting on the 1.5 kilometre Cassia Hill Walk. At dawn or dusk you may spot a black-footed rock wallaby along the walking track or near the permanent waterhole. You cannot swim in the waterhole.
Several dreaming trails and stories cross at this important spiritual site.
There are many short walks that pass the native plants of the area, including ancient ghost gums, and to views of the range.
For those with a little more time to spare enjoy the beautiful sites on the 17 kilometre return Woodland Trail.
Get the Simpsons Gap fact sheet and map .
An important geological site, Ellery Creek Big Hole is a spectacular waterhole in the mighty Ellery Creek which cuts through a gorge in the West MacDonnell Ranges. Thousands of years of massive floods have carved out this beautiful waterhole 5 minutes walk (160m) from the car park.
Access is possible by conventional vehicle, however the last 2 km is unsealed. All roads can be impassable for a short period after heavy rain.
Get the Ellery Creek Big Hole fact sheet and map .
Nestled at the base of Mount Sonder (Rwetyepme, pronounced ‘roo-chip-ma’), this stunning gorge and chasm is a refuge for many threatened plant and animal species. The Gorge has a near-permanent waterhole situated 1km from the carpark.
For visitors travelling on the Red Centre Way, Redbank Gorge also provides a refreshing stop and a chance to stretch your legs on a short walk.
Access is via Larapinta and Namatjira Drives, both sealed roads. The 5 km access road from the Redbank Gorge turn-off to Redbank Gorge is unsealed and a high clearance vehicle is recommended.
Get the Redbank Gorge fact sheet and map