No visit to Central Australia is complete without a visit to Tjoritja/West MacDonnell National Park. Located west of Alice Springs, the park stretches for 161 kilometres and is a collection of natural wonders and breathtaking scenic locations.
Exploring the region on foot along the many walking tracks will reveal an ancient landscape sculpted by the elements. This region is home to rare and wondrous plants and threatened species including the central rock-rat and long-tailed dunnart.
There is so much to see here. Some of the sites you should include on your West MacDonnell Ranges tour are Ellery Creek Big Hole, Ormiston Gorge, Simpsons Gap, Ochre Pits, Standley Chasm, and Glen Helen. Prepare for adventure and awe, and pack your swimsuit for a refreshing dip in one of the many permanent waterholes.
Fly into the heart of the nation for stays in Yulara (Uluru) and Alice Springs. Enjoy sunrise and sunset over the Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), trek with camels through Uluru, take a view from above with breathtaking views and enjoy a once in a lifetime dining experience at Sounds of Silence under the Southern night skies. We then make our way into Kings Canyon where we enjoy cultural experiences, stop at Kings Creek Station before heading into Alice Springs to visit the Royal Flying Doctors Service. Finish off the tour with a bush style true outback style BBQ with a visit to Standley Chasm, driving via West Macdonnell Ranges and heading into Ormiston Gorge before flying home.
The choice is yours when it comes to how long you should spend in the West MacDonnell Ranges. This is so much to see and do here, but even a West MacDonnell Ranges day tour can include a good selection of the best sites.
Simpsons Gap is just 18 kilometres from Alice Springs and is a great place to start your West MacDonnell Ranges adventure. From Alice, travel west along Larapinta Drive and Namatjira Drive. All of the main sites to visit are well signposted along the way. In the furthest reaches of the park, you’ll find Ormiston Gorge, Mt Sonder Lookout and Redbank Gorge. But you don’t need to travel that far for views of the park with its scenic gorges and permanent waterholes.
At each location you’ll find information boards detailing the local natural and cultural environment as well as sheltered picnic areas. The majority of sites in the park have toilet facilities and a few have a kiosk with a range of drinks and snacks.
The West MacDonnell Ranges National Park is known as Tjoritja (pronounced Choor-it-ja) to the local Arrente people. The region is culturally significant, especially the Ochre Pits which have long been a quarry for important ochre pigments used in Aboriginal dot painting.
Get back to nature and explore more of the outback on one of our Northern Territory tours.
If you’re choosing to discover the region by foot, each location offers well sign-posted walking tracks. There are many walking options ranging from leisurely 30-minute strolls to the epic Larapinta Trail which covers the entire national park. This is a challenging 231km journey for experienced walkers only. Make sure to plan ahead and have a supply of water for any walking you undertake. Although most locations have water supplies, this is not guaranteed so come prepared.
You can visit the West MacDonnell Ranges anytime throughout the year. However, you’ll find the cooler months between April and September are the most comfortable and therefore most popular.
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