Glen Helen Gorge, West MacDonnell National Park. Pic: hemamaps.com

The West Macs are a touch far afield for metro Darwinians but perfect daytrip fodder for Alice Springs residents or visitors to the area.

There’s no shortage of stunning distractions on offer for sightseers, with dramatic gorges, ancient Aboriginal sites, sublime lookouts and hiking trails all part of a day’s adventure.

The West MacDonnell Range is the primary feature of the landscape and has looked out over the red plains west of Alice Springs for some 300 million years.

The rock features of the park such as the Standley Chasm are must-see attractions, while the Ellery Creek Big Hole is the deepest waterhole in the ranges and the perfect spot to cool off on a hot day.


4WDING isn’t a major feature of the park, but due to the relatively remote nature of travel in the region, a reliable well-equipped 4WD vehicle should be standard.

STANDLEY GORGE is located 50km west of Alice Springs and is one of the most striking rock features in the West Macs. The gorge is privately owned, so visitors are required to pay an access fee for entry to the site.

ELLERY CREEK BIG HOLE is the best and most popular waterhole in the ranges. The surrounding rock walls shade the water from the sun’s heat and its waters are surprisingly chilly, even when the mercury spikes on hot summer days.


LOCATION: The national park is located on the outskirts of Alice Springs, just 10km from the fringes of town. Darwin residents are looking at a 1500km drive south via National Highways 1 and 87.

CAMPING is available at the campground at Ellery Creek Big Hole with basic facilities including toilets, barbeques and picnic tables provided.

FUEL is available at Alice Springs.

MORE INFO is available at www.macdonnellranges.com

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