West MacDonnell National Park

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West MacDonnell National Park: Our most recommended tours and activities

From Alice Springs: West MacDonnell Ranges Day Trip

1. From Alice Springs: West MacDonnell Ranges Day Trip

Be picked up from your Alice Springs accommodation at 7:45 AM and set off on a day of adventure and exploration! Enjoy the spectacular outback scenery and photo opportunities as you travel along the magnificent West MacDonnell Ranges, stopping at historic sites. Enjoy beautiful walks at Simpsons Gap, a natural rock amphitheater that is home to endangered black-footed rock wallabies. Stop at Standley Chasm for morning tea and a leisurely stroll. At Ochre Pits, discover rock walls covered by natural coloured ochre, used for sacred ceremonies of the local Aboriginal people. Ormiston Gorge is up next: a great place for a swim, or to see the towering walls of the gorge and pound, local plants and wildlife. By now, you will have certainly worked up an appetite for lunch! Next stop is at Glen Helen. The landscape here is spectacular - a towering sandstone wall is the first thing you see as you arrive. The area includes views of Mount Sonder, one of the highest points in Central Australia, which changes colours with the light.  On the way back to Alice Springs, witness the famous and enchanting Ellery Creek Big Hole. This waterhole is one of Central Australia’s most pristine, so don’t forget your swimmers in the warmer months! Visit Flynns Memorial and from October to March, you may decide to partake in an incredible Sunset Camel Ride at the Camel farm (optional, at your own expense). The panoramic landscapes of the West MacDonnell Ranges are extraordinary for their immensity and the spectacular array of sunburnt oranges, maroons and purples on display. These mighty ranges light up in brilliant oranges and reds at sunset on the return trip to Alice Springs. Get dropped off at your accommodation in Alice Springs at approximately 5:30 PM.

Palm Valley Full-Day 4WD Adventure from Alice Springs

2. Palm Valley Full-Day 4WD Adventure from Alice Springs

Expose yourself to authentic Australian culture on a full-day tour to Palm Valley, departing from Alice Springs. Drive along the ochre colored roads of the West MacDonnells along the way. Follow the designated state route of Larapinta Drive, traveling into the Aboriginal homelands of the Arrernte people. Immerse yourself in true outback country as you head into the Finke Gorge National Park. Upon arrival, a 4WD coach will drive you along the dry bed of the Finke River, traveling to the strange, semi-tropical oasis of Palm Valley in the Red Center. Go for a bushwalk through groves of livistona palm trees, and enjoy the remoteness of the landscape. Next, stop off at the 19th-century Lutheran mission of Hermannsburg to learn more about the aboriginal history, art and culture of the region.

From Alice Springs: West MacDonnell Ranges Half Day Trip

3. From Alice Springs: West MacDonnell Ranges Half Day Trip

The panoramic landscapes of the West MacDonnell Ranges are extraordinary with their immensity and array of sunburnt oranges, maroons and purples. View spectacular outback scenery and take photos as you travel along through magnificent Outback Country, making stops at the many historic locations. Depart Alice Springs to explore The West Macs, stopping at the historical Flynn’s Grave Memorial, resting place of Reverend Flynn, founder of The Royal Flying Doctor Service. Next up, travel to Simpsons Gap, featuring towering cliffs and a permanent waterhole. The site is significant to the Arrernte people as the home of giant goanna ancestors. Take a walk to sport black-footed rock wallabies and take magnificent photos. Lastly, you will visit Standley Chasm. Traditionally known as Angkerle Atwatye, this is an important cultural place, sacred to womens’ dreaming in Aboriginal culture. Take a 0.75 mile (1.2km) walk to access the dramatic 262 foot (80 metre) tall rock-face. On the way there or back, note the unusual features of the natural landscape here, the unique micro climate in this valley has created some distinctive features, such as ancient Cycads and a myriad of rock types and pebbles that are thousands of years old, washed down from miles upstream. After your walk enjoy Morning Tea at local cafe. Then make your way back to Alice Springs where you will have the afternoon free to explore.

Alice Springs: Town Highlights and West MacDonnell Ranges

4. Alice Springs: Town Highlights and West MacDonnell Ranges

Depart Alice Springs to explore The West Macs, stopping at the historical Flynn’s Grave Memorial, the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Next up, travel to Simpsons Gap, featuring towering cliffs and a permanent waterhole. The site is significant to the Arrernte people as being the home of giant goanna ancestors. Following that, take a walk to spot black-footed rock wallabies and take magnificent photos. You'll then visit Standley Chasm. Traditionally known as Angkerle Atwatye, this is an important cultural place which is sacred to women's dreaming in Aboriginal culture. Take a 1.2-kilometer walk to access the dramatic 80-meter-tall rock-face, and on the way there or back, note the unusual features of the natural landscape. The unique micro climate in this valley has created some distinctive features, such as ancient cycads and a myriad of rock types and pebbles that are thousands of years old. After your walk, enjoy morning tea at a local cafe before heading back to Alice Springs for some free time for lunch before setting off again to explore the town. In the afternoon, tour the sights of "The Alice" including the School of the Air. Learn how children who cannot access schools are educated by radio, and you may have the opportunity to listen to and observe actual lessons in progress on air. Stop at the historic Telegraph Station, which marks the original site of the first European settlement in Alice Springs. Visit the Royal Flying Doctors Service, where you will see how medical aid reaches those who live in the remote "outback". You'll also stop at the Alice Springs Reptile Centre, where you can see up close and maybe touch some of the lizards and snakes of Central Australia's semi-arid desert. The tour later concludes with panoramic views of the township of Alice Springs and the MacDonnell Ranges from the top of Anzac Hill.

West MacDonnell Ranges Small Group Tour

5. West MacDonnell Ranges Small Group Tour

Depart your Alice Springs accommodation at approximately at 7.30 AM and visit the 'West Macs'-  a stunning natural wonder. Learn about this prehistoric mountain range - broken by a series of gorges and chasms - from your guide on the drive.  First stop is Simpsons Gap, which offers a short, easy walk to a waterhole (no swimming), rich in native wildlife. Follow the dry creek bed and massive River Red Gums to a dramatic gap in the range, featuring towering cliffs on either side. Keep your eyes out for the famous colony of adorable Black-footed Rock Wallabies! Standley Chasm (Angkerle) is up next, a perfect place to stop for morning tea. This picturesque walk, suitable for all fitness levels, winds through a beautiful oasis, lush with an amazing array of native plants including cycads and ancient pines. The walk finishes with an astonishing view of the sheer quartzite walls rising more than 60m on each side of the narrow chasm. Then, see Ellery Creek Big Hole: the biggest and deepest waterhole in Central Australia. It offers superb swimming (summer months only) and scenery unlike anywhere else, and is only a few minutes’ walk from the car park. Visit the Ochre Pits, where Aboriginal people have been mining ochre for thousands of years and still use ochre today for medicinal, ceremonial, and spiritual purposes. The vivid colours make for excellent photographs so bring your camera. You will also stop at Mt Sonder Lookout, which is a stunning 360 ⁰ vista overlooking one of the most picturesque sections of the Finke River: a favourite spot for photographers and landscape painters. Stop for a gourmet picnic lunch, before visiting Ormiston Gorge’s spectacular scenery. A string of beautiful waterholes emerges from the immense gorge, carved by a once mighty river. The deep, permanent waterhole offers excellent swimming (summer months only) and a stunning lookout to see abundant wildlife. Finally, on your way back to Alice, make a brief stop at the famous John Flynn Memorial before drop off at your accommodation in Alice Springs at around 5:30 pm. 

Other Sightseeing Options in West MacDonnell National Park

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What people are saying about West MacDonnell National Park

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 121 reviews

Karen (our tour guide) was fantastic!! She was very professional but cracked a few jokes along the way to keep us all entertained. Her knowledge of everything related to the area was out of this world, so many fun facts that you don't get on other tours. The scenery was absolutely amazing. It was a long drive out and back, but Karen made the whole day interesting. Lunch was great as well, healthy & light but filled us up. A selection of fresh deli meat and salad wraps to make our own lunch.

Fantastic and very knowledgeable guide ( i think her name was Emma) She was loaded with facts about the area which was impressive as she mentioned she had only been at the job for 3 months. Our 2 children ( 4 & 9 ) enjoyed the day as well and they got to have a swim at Ellery Creek before heading back to our hotel.

Covered all the main tourist spots on one day at a good pace. Walks were relatively easy for all age groups. April was a beautiful time as not too hot. Flies were absent so no fly nets needed. Lunch supplied was healthy and plentiful. Our guide James was excellent due to his knowledge and care for our safety.

Great pace and beautiful scenery! Commentary very good. Swim at Ormiston Gorge the best, but Ellery waterhole also available for a dip but colder and deeper water. Perfect day out and short walks to appreciate.

Great places, the guide was extremely knowledgeable and had a great sense of humour