West McDonell Ranges Adventure

West McDonell Ranges, NT
Joe Mortelliti

A dirt circuit drive just west of Alice Springs, will have you discovering the West McDonall Ranges.
Image: Mt Sonder

Traveling on Namatjira Drive and Larapinta Drive this dirt loop covers around 400km and can be done in a car except for Palm Valley that requires high clearance 4wd.

Camping is available at numerous National Park facilities on route.
Image: Ormiston Gorge, a great camp spot.

Resort locations such as Glen Helen provide campers with facilities such as restaurant, bar, beer garden, gallery, pool, BBQ, laundry, ironing so this is camping with style.

Tents and caravans are catered for along with free nightly entertainment which we found was a feature of many caravan parks in the Alice Springs area.
Image: The Glen Helen landscape, a unique camping experience

At Standly Chasm we enjoyed a meal in the outdoor indoor restaurant, browsed the gift shop, and viewed the photo gallery. Then the 20minute walk through the spectacular chasm. This location is a private fauna and flora reserve
Image:Standly Chasm.

You can easily spend a couple of weeks here and being so close to Alice Springs multiple day trips to and from the area are also easily achieved, so allow yourself time to explore.
Also there are lots more places of interest in this loop than the ten I have featured here.
The numerous destinations of gorges, water holes, chasms and valleys are great places to camp…how you can ignore the chance of exploring a place with the name of Boggey Hole.

The 223km long Larapinta walking Trail is available for those who want some serious bush walking, it runs along the backbone of the range.

The Hermannsburg area is Albert Nimajira home turf, it’s where he grew up and his very tiny child hood home can be seen as part of this self drive tour. The landscape here has an unusual light with the mauve, purple tones and hues in the sky. This unusual coloring can readily be seen in Albert Namatjira paintings that are widely collected.

Palm Valley is the location of Australia’s rarest palms and the Finke River we have learnt, is considered one of oldest Rivers in the world, flowing through this area.
Image: Finke River, Palm Valley

Image: The Red Cabbage Palms

Image: Palm Valley

Known as the Red Cabbage Palms, Livistona Mariae . This ancient valley floor with it’s ancient river and overhead Red Cabbage Palms give you a glimpse of when central Australia was a tropical environment.

Image:Ellery Creek Big Hole is a popular swimming spot

Image: The Ochre Pits feature

Image:Gosse Bluff

Marion and I think the drive around this loop is one of the best travel adventures available in Oz and simply loved the whole experience of the Red Centre

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