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MacDonnell Ranges

image 1Tour Guides

Travel NT: The East and West MacDonnell Ranges stretch out for hundreds of kilometres on both sides of Alice Springs.

The traditional owners of the Alice Springs area, the Arrernte people, believe giant caterpillars called the Yeperenye became the Ranges - they entered this world through one of the dramatic gaps in the escarpments of the area.

The panoramic landscapes of the West MacDonnell Ranges are easily accessed from Alice Springs. Each of the West MacDonnell's chasms and gorges has its own unique character and scenery. Simpsons Gap sports a permanent pool and rock wallabies live in the gap's rocky ridges. Standley Chasm lights up in fiery colours reflected by the overhead sun at midday. Picturesque swimming holes such as Ellery Creek Big Hole, Ormiston Gorge, Glen Helen Gorge and Redbank Gorge offer refreshing relief on a scorching day. It is also possible to visit the Ochre Pits that desert Aboriginal people once used as a quarry for ochre pigments.

The East MacDonnell Ranges, while not as well known as the West MacDonnells, do provide beautiful scenery for bush walking, camping and four-wheel-driving. Visit Arltunga, a ghost town that was the site of a gold rush in the 1930's. Other places of spectacular natural beauty like Trephina Gorge, make a trip to the East MacDonnells more than worthwhile.

Australian Explorer: Heading west from Alice Springs you can drive through the magnificent Western MacDonnell Ranges. There are two routes that you can take. Starting from Larapinta Drive you can either follow this along through Hermannsburg until you reach the Mereenie Loop Road, or turn off onto Namatjira Drive which eventually joins the Mereenie Loop Road. This then leads to Kings Canyon and the Watarrka National Park.

The first place you will come across along Larapinta Drive is the Desert Wildlife Park and Botanical Gardens, shortly followed by Simpsons Gap, where the river cut through solid rock now forming a pleasant home for rock wallabies. 50km further west is another amazing land formation at Standley Chasm. The huge rock walls almost touch allowing the sun to reach the base of the gap for only 15 minutes a day. The small fee to enter the Aboriginal land is definitely worth it to see Standley Chasm.

Continuing along Larapinta Drive, there is little other than landscape to see, before you reach Hermannsburg. One thing you will pass is the Wallace Rockhole, where you can camp and take a tour around the Aboriginal rock art. Just before you reach Hermannsburg is the Namatjira Monument, for the painter Albert Namatjira who was the first Aboriginal person to be granted Australian citizenship. Once at Hermannsburg you can visit the mission with its old pretty buildings, as well as the tearooms and store. It is in the tearooms where you can buy a permit for the Mereenie Loop Road, and unfortunately the rest of town is out of bounds as it is Aboriginal land.

 

The Small Guide to a Big Country: The telegraph line followed the route of explorer John MacDouall Stuart. Permanent waterholes, named Alice Springs (after the wife of South Australia's Postmaster General), were the reason for the Overland Telegraph Station’s location in the 1870s. It was the seed of a township originally called Stuart, named after the explorer. In 1933, when it was renamed Alice Springs, there were just 400 residents. The Telegraph Station is now the centre of a historical reserve at the north end of town.

West of Alice, and only a short drive from town, is Simpsons Gap, gouged by millions of years of floods from Roe Creek and, at dawn and dusk, black-footed rock-wallabies turn up for a drink at the waterhole. Standley Chasm is best visited (but most crowded) at midday, when the sun passes overhead to penetrate the chasm (80 metres high and only 8 metres wide at its narrowest point). It was named after Ida Standley, the Alice’s first schoolteacher. On the way, on Larapinta Drive, is the grave of John Flynn, founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Wikipedia: The MacDonnell Ranges of the Northern Territory, are a 644 km (400 mile) long mountain range located in the centre of Australia (23°42'S 132°30'E), and consist of parallel ridges running to the east and west of Alice Springs. The range is composed of red sandstone peaks and gorges with the highest peaks being Mount Liebig (1,524m AHD/ 5,000 ft) and Mount Zeil (1,510 m / 4,955 ft). The mountain range was named after Sir Richard MacDonnell (the Governor of South Australia at the time) by John McDouall Stuart, whose 1860 expedition reached them in April of that year.

Tiscali Reference: Mountain range in Northern Territory, central Australia, running east to west in parallel ridges for 644 km/400 mi. The highest peaks are Mount Liebig (1,524m/5,000 ft) and Mount Zeil (1,510 m/4,955 ft). The town of Alice Springs is situated in the middle of the Macdonnell Ranges. The spectacular scenery, with its deep gorges and red rocks, attracts many tourists.

Wilkins Tourist Map: There is much to see east of Alice Springs along the Ross Highway to Ross River homestead and camping area. To see this fascinating area of Central Australia, take the Ross Highway, which turns east from the Stuart Highway just south of Heavitree Gap. After a short drive through the 'Farm Area', you will pass Amoonguna Aboriginal Settlement on your right (permit area only). Amoonguna was established in 1963 to provide accommodation for aboriginals in close proximity to the town. Many of the first residents there lived at the Old Telegraph Station. A few kilometres past here, on the left, is Emily Gap, a popular gap with picnic tables, just 11km. from the Stuart Highway. Another 7 km. further is Jessie Gap, also a popular picnic spot for locals and visitors. Continue along the highway another 25 km., past the Ringwood Station turn-off, on your right, to Corroboree Rock (Antanangantana), mystic and sacred site for Aranda aboriginals who once stored sacred objects there. The small reserve, with a car parking area has limited facilities.

TravelMall: The Scenery of the MacDonnell Ranges is inspiring. With it's magnificently coloured rugged gorges and rocky ridges. Each of the West MacDonnells' chasms and gorges has its own unique character and scenery. At Simpsons Gap you can walk to the permanent pool and possibly catch sight of the rock wallabies that live in the gap's rocky ridges. At midday, stand in Standley Chasm as it lights up in fiery oranges reflected by the overhead sun. Plunge in for a swim at the picturesque waterholes at Ellery Creek Big Hole, Ormiston Gorge and Glen Helen Gorge. Visit the Ochre Pits, which desert Aboriginal people used as a quarry for ochre, a valuable traditional material used for paintings and ceremonial body decorations.

Holiday Company Descriptions

MacDonnell Range Holiday Park: Discover the Red Centre - the majestic natural wonders, the ancient cultures and the breathtaking horizons. The most awarded Holiday Park in the Northern Territory, the famous MacDonnell Range Holiday Park is a Big 4 Park. Situated in the picturesque surroundings of the MacDonnell Ranges, away from the traffic and noise, just 4.5kms south of Alice Springs on Palm Place. Come to our park and enjoy a quiet, relaxing holiday, and experience the spirit of the true outback. You will discover and experience all that the unique Centre of Australia has to offer. Here at MacDonnell Range Holiday Park we offer you year - round accommodation in a friendly atmosphere we guarantee you will enjoy.

Wordtravels: Alice Springs, the vibrant hub of central Australia, grew up around a permanent waterhole that was a key terminal for the Overland Telegraph Station in 1870. It became a tough frontier town serviced by camel trains from the railhead at Oodnadatta, until the railway reached it in 1929 and it became a major terminus centre. Today the city, with a population of 25,000 and stylish shopping and dining facilities, provides a perfect base from which to access all of the surrounding natural wonders, including Uluru (Ayer's Rock), where you can learn more about the local Arrernte Aboriginal tribal group who have inhabited the area for 20,000 years. The city is also the point from which intrepid adventurers strike south to explore the Simpson Desert, or east to visit the ghost towns of the MacDonnell Ranges. Alice Springs has good connections to Australia's capital cities; there are daily flights to and from the capitals and road and rail access from all capital cities is possible.

Journeys of Distinction: This morning we board our coach which will take us along the scenic Desert Oak Drive to Alice Springs where our accommodation is booked at the first class Crowne Plaza Hotel. The rest of your day is left completely at leisure. This morning we shall arrange for those that so wish, an optional hot air balloon ride over Australia's outback. After breakfast enjoy a morning exploring this little town. Visits include the Royal Flying Doctor Base and the Old Telegraph Station, now a museum and site of the old springs from which Alice gets its name. Later in the afternoon we make our way to Alice Springs airport for our flight to Adelaide. Upon arrival we will be transferred to the deluxe Adelaide Hilton in the heart of the city where we spend the next three nights. (Meals: Breakfast, Refreshments).

Freedom Australia: Rise early to view Uluru at sunrise. There is the opportunity to climb to the summit (optional). Tour the caves at the base of Uluru and hear stories of the Aboriginal Dreamtime. Later, visit the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre. This afternoon travel through the desert plains to Kata Tjuta (Olgas). The size and grandeur of these 36 massive domes of conglomerate red rock will amaze you. Take a walk through Walpa Gorge following the natural creek bed between two of the domes. After sunset with sparkling wine, enjoy a delicious Australian barbecue dinner and stargazing.

 

 

Viator: This morning travel along Namatjira Drive to the beautiful West MacDonnell Ranges. Explore Simpsons Gap and Angkerle (Standley Chasm), a spectacular nine meter break in the range. When the sun strikes the floor in the chasm its walls blaze red. Visit the Desert Park and see different Australian desert habitats, their plants and wildlife, through a variety of interactive displays. The remainder of the day at leisure to explore the town and perhaps purchase genuine Aboriginal artwork. Overnight Accommodation: Alice Springs Resort or Crowne Plaza Alice Springs

The Backpacker: Take a Camel to Dinner Tour - No trip to Alice Springs is complete without a ride on a camel. You are collected from your Alice Springs hotel and transferred to the Date Gardens, where you meet your 'ship of the desert' under the shady palms. Get to know your camel on a leisurely one hour ride along the sandy course of the Todd River bed, past magnificent river red gums, on your way to dinner. On arrival at the Frontier Camel Farm, enjoy a visit of the Camel Display and the Camel Shop before pre-dinner drinks and bush-tucker tasting. Then sit down to a delicious home-cooked dinner, including nibbles of nutritious native foods and home made bread, a choice of baked fillet of Barramundi (Fish) or Prime Beef with fresh salads, warm sticky date pudding, Australian wine or beer, tea or coffee and fresh local dates. After dinner, you are transferred back to your Alice Springs hotel.

Central Oz Motorcycle Tours: Established in 1992, The award winning Alice Springs 'Central Oz Motorcycle Adventures' provide self-ride & passenger tours on Harley-Davidson motorcycles. We tour Alice Springs & the rest of the Outback Northern Territory. Tours range from 1 hour to 7 days including Ayers Rock/Uluru, MacDonnell Ranges & extended tours to Darwin. We provide what the motorcycling enthusiast is looking for.

Total Travel: At the very heart of Australia lies the historic town of Alice Springs - situated 462kms from Ayers Rock/Uluru and positioned between the East and West MacDonnell Ranges, Alice Springs makes both a great touring base and a great holiday destination. You can see the original Alice Spring which is still there - the permanent waterhole that clinched the location of the Overland Telegraph Station in the 1870s. The surrounding MacDonnell Ranges are not as well-known as Uluru, 462km to the west, but they are a haven of rockholes, gorges and parks with hundreds of camping, walking, swimming and picnic spots. A major tourist town, Alice Springs makes a great touring base and a diverse and fascinating destination on its own.

Travelonline: Backed by the rugged MacDonnell Ranges, Alice Springs sits in the centre of Australia, a melting pot of cultures and traditions. Alice Springs has a variety of things to do and see. It also serves as a good starting point for exploring the surrounding attractions of Central Australia including the MacDonnell Ranges, Kings Canyon and Uluru (Ayers Rock). More than just an overnight stop, Alice Springs has many attractions to visit. Make sure that Alice Springs is part of your Outback itinerary.

Australia 4 Tours: A 11 Day tour visiting Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (Olgas), Aboriginal Culture, Kings Canyon, Palm Valley, Mereenie Track, Gosse Bluff, Western MacDonnell Ranges, devils Marbles, Mataranka Thermal Springs, Katherine Gorge, Darwin, Litchfield NP, Kakadu National Park, Mary River Wetlands, Wildlife/Crocodile Cruise, Ubirr Rock, Aboriginal Rock Art, Jim Jim & Twin Falls.

Adventures Abroad: Early this morning we fly across the vast desert known as the "Red Centre" to Uluru, commonly called Ayers Rock, located in the centre of the continent. Uluru is an incredibly impressive monolith 5 km (3 miles) in length and over 300m (1,000 ft) high! Towering 343m (1,143 ft) above the plain and measuring 9 km (5A½ miles) in circumference, the rock is twice the size of central London! The rock is honeycombed with caves, some of which are used for tribal ceremonies and burial chambers. We enjoy the sunset which creates a series of changing colours on the rock.

Uluru is a remnant of ancient mountains which long ago weathered away, leaving the sandstone monolith standing alone in the desert. In 1989 scientists found evidence that Uluru, the Macdonnell Ranges, and a cluster of huge rock domes named Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) were part of a single plateau. The plateau was formed about 300 million years ago and has steadily been eroded ever since. At one stage during this erosion process, according to the scientists, there would probably have been vast gorges here of Grand Canyon dimensions.

ATT Kings: Tour the sights of 'The Alice' including the historic Telegraph Station and the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Visit the School of the Air where sometimes we are able to listen to the children take lessons on air. Stop at the Alice Springs Reptile Centre where you will see unique Central Australian reptiles such as the Perentie and Thorny Devil. Conclude with a panoramic view of Alice Springs and the surrounding ranges from the top of Anzac Hill.

Desert Explorer: Today we give you a chance to enjoy sunrise in a truly unique and beautiful setting. After breakfast we pause at the WA / NT border near the Aboriginal settlement of Docker River. Crossing the Docker River (there are no bridges out here) the Great Central Road passes through the magnificent Petermann Ranges and with only six more rivers to cross and a visit to Lasseters Cave, then the majestic Olgas will soon appear pink/purple on the horizon. After a breathtaking walk into the Olgas (Kata Tjuta) and distant views of Ayres Rock (Uluru) it is a short drive to the cultural centre for a close look at the Anangu way of life. Sunset will find us watching the setting sun change the colours of the worlds most famous rock.

Intrepid: Experience the outback the authentic way - get off the bitumen and on to dirt roads. This 4WD adventure allows you to get right off the beaten track through cattle stations to outback icons such as Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Watarrka in a small group, allowing the freedom to explore some remote areas. By night, settle down in your bush camp, cook over a campfire and sleep under the vast, starry sky.

Thomas Cook: A chance to get right into the outback today with a visit to the Western MacDonnell mountain ranges. You'll have views of Simpson's Gap, Ellery Creek Gorge and Standley Chasm.

 

 


Holiday Accommodation

Alice Springs Resort: What many refer to as the best accommodation in town, Alice Springs Resort combines efficient and friendly outback service with modern, comfortable facilities. Low rise architecture and lush green lawns contribute to the relaxed atmosphere of our award-winning resort, situated on the banks of the famous Todd River with its magnificent river red gums.

You could be riding a camel down a dry river bed or watching the old Ghan steam into the station; maybe you're sailing above the mighty MacDonnell Ranges in a hot air balloon or enjoying bush tucker under the stars: no matter what you do in and around Alice Springs, you'll discover that the romance of outback Australia is alive and well.

The early days of European settlement are well preserved here with buildings like the old jail and original Telegraph Station still standing. Yet you'll also find Aboriginal culture extremely well presented in the Alice. It is a truly unique place. The location of Alice Springs Resort puts you in a perfect position to explore both the town and surrounding areas.

Best Western Elkira Motel: Centrally located in the heart of the Alice Springs CBD, Best Western Elkira Motel, with its tranquil gardens and friendly staff offers a warm welcome. Only a five-minute walk to the post office or local tourist attractions such as Panorama Guth and the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the Elkira Motel is ideally positioned for both business and leisure.

The Elkira Motel offers three styles of comfortable rooms that have views of the magnificent McDonnell Ranges, lush gardens or the beautiful in-ground pool. The fully licensed Terrace Restaurant is known for great value home style cooking, offering a number of quality Australian wines and beers.

Lasseters Hotel Casino: Set against the McDonnell Ranges and adjoining one of the world’s best dessert golf courses, the Lasseters Hotel Casino Alice Springs offers accommodation of high standards comprising of 127 spacious guestrooms and 13 elegantly appointed suites each fitted with stylish and comfortable furnishings. All rooms and suites boast a private balcony or courtyard with magnificent views of the MacDonnell Ranges, pool, golf course or famous Todd River.

The Samphire Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in a comfortable atmosphere with a variety of choices for all tastes. Overlooking the gaming floor in the casino, the Reef Bar offers the perfect place to meet for a drink and dine casually from the All Day Dining Menu. While at the hotel, you can relax by the pool, play a game of tennis, or use one of the bicycles to follow the trails and visit the nearby attractions

Crowne Plaza Hotel: Crowne Plaza Alice Springs combines luxury, elegance and resort style facilities. The hotel offers a wide range of services for the leisure and business traveller in a relaxed and stylish environment.

Novotel Outback Hotel: Located in the foothills of the MacDonnell Ranges, Novotel Outback Alice Springs is close to many tourist attractions of the city such as West MacDonnell, Anzac hill, Desert Park, Botanical gardens and racecourse.

Heavitree Gap Outback Lodge Alice Springs: This property is located 4.5 kms south of Alice Springs, in a stunning outback setting. The hotel's courtesy bus takes guests to Alice Springs and back. Next door is a Caravan Park and 3 acres of tent sites. Great spot for lovers of scenic walks.

 

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