Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

West MacDonnell Ranges – End of Sept 2011

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on October 13, 2011

Ormiston Gorge panorama

Caravan at Ormiston Gorge

Big slope needed extra chocks

View from our site

Hi Everyone,

We packed up and headed out to the far western end of the MacDonnell Ranges.  The road is bitumen all the way out here and the views of the West MacDonnell Ranges are awesome.  You basically drive out the road along the range. We drove into Ormiston Gorge and checked out the camping area as we aren’t sure if we will fit into the camping bays.  The road into Ormiston Gorge is all bitumen and luckily for us it was only 11 o’clock in the morning so

Tyler's Lookout

Smoke and dust storm makes it hazy

Gosse Bluff

we had our pick of the sites.  All of the sites are on some sort of slope so we tried for a big site with the least amount of slope for our 25ft van. After a bit of manoeuvring and using some rocks to help chock the wheels:) we had finished setting up and were reasonably level!  Camping here costs $25 for a family per night, (2A and up to 4C) or $10 per A and $5 per child.  We thought it was pretty cheap considering they had flushing toilets, hot showers and gas BBQs for cooking! We had a bit of lunch then drove out to see Gosse Bluff.  We stopped at Tyler’s

Redbank Gorge

Different colours in the rocks

Not a real defined path here

Lookout in middle of Gosse Bluff

Lookout which gives a great view of the actual bluff. Unfortunately there is a lot of smoke and haze around and it’s hard to see it!  It’s as windy as all hell up here too so hopefully it will work to whisk away the smoke and not start anymore fires!.

We stopped at the turnoff to Gosse Bluff and let down the tyres as it is a 4WD track in.  It’s

Long, hot walk in

about 5km of rough road and then we were right in the centre of the bluff.  Gosse Bluff (Tnorala) is believed to have been formed 142.5 million years ago, when a 600m wide comet crashed to earth, blasting a crater some 20km across.  Today it is 2km lower than the original impact surface and the bluff is only about 5km is

Track to lookout

Ormiston Pound walk start

diameter. We parked up and took a walk up to one of the lookouts, only about 600m return, which gave us brilliant views of the crater and surrounding area.  It was just beautiful.  A few snacks and drinks then we headed back towards camp and stopped in to have a look at Redbank Gorge.  It is a 2.4km walk from the car park, alongside the creek bed to Redbank Gorge and return.  It is a bit later in the afternoon and there are a lot of shadows which makes

Very pretty hike

the walk a bit nicer and not too hot.  The track is a bit of a goat track then goes down into the creek bed for the last part of it. There is a permanent waterhole here and you can walk through the water and up through the upper parts of the gorge if you so wish.  They recommend if you wish to visit the upper gorges, to take a tyre tube or some inflatable device so you can float on the water as it is so cold.  The water is pretty cold and there’s heaps of algae so we pass on the swim.  It’s still quite pretty and the colours are lovely too. Wade has a sore ankle and is not a happy chappie to be doing this walk which is really unlike him.  As we returned along the track I slipped on a loose rock and broke my fall

Our goat track on RHS

Halfway roughly

by putting out my hands – straight into a bloody Spinifex bush-oucheyowa!  I got most of the splinters out but will have to wait for a couple to

Morning tea stop

fester to get them out! We drove back to camp and noticed that the campground has filled up a lot while we were gone. After dinner we listened to a Ranger talk, mostly about Park Management which sounds a bit boring but we talked a lot about the fires at the moment and we got a lot of info about Kings Canyon and Ayres Rock as that’s where we are heading later on.  There are fires everywhere and there just isn’t

Follow the markers boys

Are we there yet

enough man-power to deal with all the fires in the area.  Such a shame but they think they are getting them under control.   Worse part is that most of

Still going - so beautiful

them, they believe, have been deliberately lit. Honestly what are these people thinking; surely they must have better things to do!

Next day we were up early to start the Ormiston Pound Walk which is an 8 km hike.  We are taking some extra Gatorade this time as we all got a bit flat after our last big, hike and it’s going to be quite hot

Shoes and sox off to cross water

Contemplating life

again today too! We set off with the boys carrying the backpacks, which was great as the first 2km or so was all uphill and rocky climbs!  We took plenty of

Great spot to relax

rest stops for drinks and snacks and to take some photos of the gorgeous scenery around here.  The walk takes you on a full circuit from the Visitors/ Camping Area, across the slopes and onto the floor of the Pound before returning along the Gorge via the main waterhole.  They have had an unseasonable amount of rain this year and until just recently, to get back to the camping area you had to swim across a section of the gorge to continue.  We all agreed that it would be lovely as even with our big-brimmed hats

Just breathtaking

Waterhole = end of hike

on, it is a very hot walk.  About a third of the way around, we walked up to a lookout where you could see a view of the entire Pound area.  It was pretty awesome too.  We could see where we had walked up:/ and then we were still to go to.  The red rocks of the Pound walls contrasted well with the yellow Spinifex and the green bushes; it was indeed a beautiful, if hot, walk. We came to a section of the Gorge where we had to take of our socks and shoes to get across the water.  It was lovely and cool and very picturesque.  We met a woman here who

Mt Sonder Lookout view

had been watching a black-footed wallaby on the rocks nearby but it had gone into hiding so we couldn’t see it.  We walked the last section of the track back through the creek bed and past the waterhole.  It looked very inviting but we all needed some lunch first.  After lunch we were all a bit knackered so we relaxed for a while reading and snoozing.  We went for a swim in the waterhole and OMG the water was freezing.  Joel and I got in first; I stayed in and thought it was cool but okay, Joel got out and the kids jumped in and out a few times but couldn’t stay in as it was just freezing.  It was a nice way to cool off though and the water was very deep too! We vegged around camp for the rest of the arvo


Roma Gorge entrance

trying to ignore our very noisy neighbours and their 4 kids!

Middle of Roma gorge

Next day we drove up to Mt Sonder Lookout.  The view of the Mountain and rest of the Ranges was pretty lovely.  The Finke River even had quite a bit of water in it and there were even some campers down along the water as well.  We then drove out to Roma Gorge for a look.  The sign has been knocked down by the road construction crew and we found it thanks to the info from the Ranger the other night.  Basically you drive up the dry creek bed for 8.5km of very rough and boggy 4WD tracks until you get to the Gorge.  It took about 45 mins to drive along the track to a parking area and a 200m walk to the gorge.  There are

Not really for swimming

some amazing petroglyphs here and we wandered around having a good look at them.  The kids were great and really respectful of the area and spent a fair bit of time hunting around for some of the petroglyphs too.  The gorge itself is quite beautiful with the rough red rock of the gorge contrasting with the smooth grey of the riverbed rocks and the green trees growing in the gorge too. The drive was a good 4WD track but I would definitely recommend a high clearance 4wd to go in there. The sky is overcast today so we went back for lunch and some schoolwork and blogging.  Daniel made spaghetti Bolognese for tea and it was delicious.  He’s got a bit of the cooking bug at the

Ellery Ck Big Hole panorama

moment and I’m trying to encourage it as it gives me a night off from cooking!

Next day we packed up and headed back towards Alice Springs, stopping in at Ellery Creek Big Hole.

Big Ellery Ck and us

It is a spectacular waterhole in Ellery Creek which cuts through a gorge in the West MacDonnell Ranges.  It is quite magnificent and I hear a great place to swim but we all have jumpers on this morning as it is very cool so I don’t think we’ll be testing that one out!  The rocks here are beautiful and amazing.  They are almost striped or marbled with different colours throughout. It looks like a great place to canoe and swim and there is a camping area here too.  Not sure that we’d fit our van in any of the sites though and even a camper trailer would struggle for a few of them too! There is a short 3km walk here but we decided to head back in to Alice as we need to check a few battery problems out in town.  We stopped just out of Alice at the John Flynn Memorial. He was sent by the Church in 1912 to investigate the needs of bush men and women living in the NT.  “With tremendous energy and enthusiasm he set about implementing his dream of a mantle of safety that would bring medical, social and religious services to isolated outback communities”, eventually becoming the RFDS in NT.  He died in 1951 and was buried here and a rock was taken from The Devils Marbles and placed as a grave

Colourful rocks

John Flynn Memorial

stone.  However the Traditional owners of the Devils Marbles wanted the stone returned and in 1999 the local Arrernte people arranged for another significant rock to replace the stone taken from the Devils Marbles and it was returned.  The Arrernte People acknowledged, by the exchange of the stone that John Flynn’s life’s work was for all people living in Central Australia.  We decided to stay one night in Alice to get more shopping done and get the electrics checked out on the car again! We put on a few loads of washing as the skies are looking grey and hopefully after my washing dries it might even rain.  Sure enough it absolutely poured down overnight; good, hard rain which should help put out most of the fires still burning and smouldering.

It was still raining on and off as we packed up and headed out of Alice for the last time as we are heading towards Kings Canyon.

Till Next time



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