What’s happening dudes. When you think of Central Australia, you think of Uluru, Kings Canyon and maybe Kata Tjuta. But the West MacDonnell Ranges are bloody awesome. It should be a must-see on anyone’s list. After all, what’s the point of going into the arse end of nowhere and not seeing everything it has to offer?
The MacDonnell Ranges is a mountain range that is about 400 miles long, running East and West of Alice Springs. From the title I have to assume that you have guessed which part of this mountain range I explored – That’s right, I went west. If you didn’t get that, please get off my blog.
Exploring the West MacDonnell Ranges…
Our first stop wasn’t at a particular geological marvel, but rather a…
Memorial dedicated to ‘Flynn of the Inland’, founder of the Royal Flying Doctor.
It was because of this dude that some level of health care was brought to the most remote areas of Australia. Since this was formed it has helped thousands upon thousands of people in the outback reach a hospital and saved thousands of lives. His ashes are buried beneath this memorial and his remarkable achievements are why I’ve included it within this blog.
The next stop was at:
This is a very important spiritual site to the Arrarnta Aboriginal people, where several dreaming trails and stories cross. It also contains one of the most prominent waterholes in the region which, being in the desert, is pretty damn important. Here are a few pictures.
One of my favourite things about this area is the dry riverbeds. I thought the first picture was pretty funny. Crazy Australia.
The next stop was at:
My immaturity means I find the word chasm amusing. I’m not sure why. It is well worth the walk of just over a kilometre to get to the Chasm, a natural alleyway cut between the quartz rocks (Geology geek).
After a bit of food at Standley Chasm we then travelled the short distance to…
(Editors Note: (1) The first time I went I was on a tour and thus the entrance fee to the chasm was included. The second time I went by myself and therefore it wasn’t. It’s not a lot of money, between $5-10 depending what rate you qualify for. Please pay it – it looks after the track and the fact it’s on Aboriginal land. (2) You can climb on some cool ass shit near here – I’ll upload a photo to instagram soon).
Ellerly Creek Bighole.
As you can guess from the name, it is big. While we were here some guy tried jumping off one of the cliff faces about 30 feet up into the water – something he claims to have been doing for 25 years. Clearly the water levels had changed over the years as he landed with a crash and emerged from the water with a bruised black arm having hit the bottom. Survival of the fittest (and smartest) at it’s most obvious.
From Ellerly Creek Bighole we travelled to…
This was probably my favourite stop of the day. I went for a swim here in the natural waterhole (it was freezing) and a walk round the rugged rocks to see what I can see – A lizard or two, a black footed rock wallaby and some sick views being the answer. This is in the middle of the f**king desert, right? So I was amazed when I saw a bloke wearing an ARSENAL shirt. What a HERO.
Did I also mention that later in the day I went on a helicopter ride over the desert and actually through Ormiston Gorge? I’ll write a blog on that soon. Perhaps.
The final stop of the day was at the…
This particular mine belongs to the Western Arrernte people and the Ochre is used in Aboriginal ceremonies and art. Before European settlement only certain Arrente men could collect the Ochre and the beautiful multi-coloured rocks look sweet as. It is important to respect this area and not removed any of the Ochre. Here are a couple of pictures:
I think that’s enough for now. Pretty sick, isn’t it? The West MacDonnell Ranges are a place not to be missed.
(Editors Note: I’ve since been back to the West MacDonnell Ranges and thus I have TWO bits of advice for you. Nay, THREE.
1. Drive yourself – rent a car from Alice Springs if you don’t have your own. It’ll be about $50 for the rental and $50 maximum for the petrol. If there is 4 of you that’s $25 each for a full-day at your own pace, a tour would normally cost you at least $100. The driving distances aren’t bad and if you only had 4 hours to SEE everything (not to swim, etc), then you could do it – Don’t – spend a WHOLE day and then…
2. CAMP in one of the places – I didn’t do this because of POOR planning, but I honestly believe it’s an opportunity missed. Most of the places offer camping (fees of around $5-7 per person) and some of the places have BBQ’s which are free to use.
3. If you want to swim, go in summer – otherwise you will freeze your balls off.
4. If you want to take in all the natural beauty without a bunch of tourists/locals in your way, go in winter).