West MacDonnell National Park lies west of Alice Springs. We decided to spend a day briefly exploring several locations, before spending the night at Glenn Helen or Ormiston Gorge.Sunrise, just out of Alice, on Larapinta Drive.
Our first stop was Simpson’s Gap, a permanent water hole about 21km from Alice Springs. We didn’t stay long because it was bitterly cold as the sun hadn’t yet reached the floor of the gap.
We then headed to Hermannsburg (Ntaria), the birthplace of Albert Namatjira, a Western Arrernte man and artist, who captured the beauty of his country in watercolour paintings. It’s also home to the Hermannsburg Potters. We walked around the historic precinct, enjoyed tea and apple strudel at the Kata Anga Tea Rooms, read a little about the fascinating history of the Lutheran missionaries, and visited the art gallery to view watercolour paintings and pottery.
I would definitely visit Hermannsburg again. We retraced our route along Larapinta Drive and then turned into Namatjira Drive to Ellery Creek Big Hole, the deepest waterhole in the West McDonnell Ranges, where we stopped for a short while.
Then we headed to Glen Helen Gorge, which was quite crowded with campers and visitors at the Homestead Lodge, so we decided not to stay there.
About 5 minutes down the road from Glen Helen Gorge, is the lookout to Mt Sonder, the highest point on the famous Larapinta Trail. With its changing colours, it’s a favourite for painters, including Albert Namatjira.
We attempted to reach Redbank Gorge, but the road conditions require a 4WD vehicle so we headed back toward Ormiston Gorge, and arrived by dark. In the morning, we went down to Ormiston Creek.
We returned to the campground and watched a little grey honeyeater flit about as we packed up to leave.
Then we drove east, toward Alice Springs, and beyond to the East Macdonnell Ranges.