West MacDonnell National Park

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.West McDonnell National Park MapSunrise, just out of Alice, on Larapinta Drive.

Just out of Alice

Just out of Alice

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.

View Through Simpsons Gap

View through Simpsons Gap

Simpsons Gap

Simpsons Gap

Eremophila mitchellii (Emu Bush)

Emu Bush (Eremophila mitchellii)

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.

Lutheran Mission Hermannsburg

Lutheran Mission Hermannsburg

Trees & Building Hermannsburg

Trees and building in Hermannsburg

Apricot Grevillea

Apricot Grevillea

Pink Grevillea

Pink Grevillea

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.

Gums at Ellery Big Hole

Gums at Ellery Big Hole

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.

Glen Helen

Glen Helen

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.

View to Mount Sonder

View to Mount Sonder

River and ranges

River and ranges

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.

Ormiston Gorge and Creek

Ormiston Gorge & Creek

Ormiston Ghost Gum

Ormiston Ghost Gum

Ormiston Reflection

Ormiston reflection

We returned to the campground and watched a little grey honeyeater flit about as we packed up to leave.

Grey Honeyeater and Wattle

Grey Honeyeater and Wattle

Grey Honeyeater

Grey Honeyeater in Eucalypt

Then we drove east, toward Alice Springs, and beyond to the East Macdonnell Ranges.

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