There is plenty to see and do when you come to Alice Springs… with our spectacular ancient escarpments, gorges and waterholes, flora and fauna, endless horizons and the big blue skies above. The magnificent MacDonnell Ranges are a series of mountain ranges extending some 644 km, consisting of parallel ridges running east and west of Alice Springs. Composed of many different rock types, of which the most obvious are the red quartzite, this landmark is home to many creatures, stories and secrets. It is along the ranges that you will discover ancient history and mother nature in her full glory. The ranges were named after Sir Richard Graves MacDonnell, an Anglo-Irish lawyer, judge and colonial governor of South Australia.

The Arrernte people, the traditional owners of the Alice Springs area have stories of their dreamtime telling of the beginning when Altyerrenge, ancestral figures created the landscape, its features and Arrernte Law.

As you head west from Alice Springs, many of the main features are accessible via the sealed roads of Larapinta and Namatjira Drives, which runs west along the valley. One of the dominant features seen in Alice Springs Mount Gillen. Stop off at Flynn’s Grave, which sits in the shadows of Mount Gillen.

Continuing west you will see the signs directing you to Simpsons Gap (being only 26 km west of Alice Springs), where a early or late afternoon walk to the waterhole may provide opportunities to see the local Black-footed Rock Wallabies.

The Arrernte Aboriginal name for Simpsons Gap is Rungutjirpa, being the mythological home of a group of giant goanna ancestors.

Easily accessed, the Simpsons Gap area includes large areas of Mulga, as well as a stronghold for over 40 rare and relic plants. It is also an area that has important spiritual meaning for the Arrernte Aboriginal people, being where several dreaming trails and stories cross.

Simpsons Gap is also a unique gorge that is home to a number of species of arid land frogs. During the right conditions, as seen during the first couple of months in 2010, locals and visitors were thrilled to witness thousands of frogs ranging from the Desert Tree Frog, Spencer’s Burrowing Frog, Main’s Frog (also known as the Sheep Frog) and the Centralian Green Frog. During such unique wildlife activity, the Parks and Wildlife Service of the NT put on special walks and night time tours to take in these events.

There is more to the secrets of Central Australia and Alice Springs to tell… so we hope you will visit and keep coming back…

For more information:

If you are planning to explore West Macdonnell Ranges, check out the NT Government website “Tjoritja / West MacDonnell National Park (The West Macs)” and read about the History, Art, Nature and Culture Stories.

Image © Dorothy Latimer

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