Eastern Macdonnell Ranges

infoEastern Macdonnell Ranges Info

Heading south from Alice Springs you will come across a turning for the Ross Highway. If you head along this you will be driving through the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges and can visit a number of small towns along the way, as well as several nature parks.

The first nature parks you will come across are the Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature Parks, which are both important in the Arrente Aboriginal peoples Caterpillar Dreaming Trails. Emily Gap is probably the most important as it is where the caterpillar beings originated. The history of the Arrente people is also told at the Corroboree Rock and N'Dhala Gorge further east along the highway, where you will see plenty of rock carvings.

MacDonnell RangesJust north of the N'Dhala Gorge is the Trephina Gorge Nature Park. There are some fabulous walks around the gorge, amongst the beautiful rocky landscape. The shorter walk takes you along the edge of the gorge, leading down to the bottom before returning, whereas the longer one continues onto the pools of the John Hayes Rockhole. There is a lot of wildlife in the area, as well as plenty of eagles, matching the valley's name of the Valley of the Eagles. You can also camp here

A short distance further east is the Ross River Homestead. There is accommodation here, and it is a popular place to stop as you can go walking, horse riding and even camel riding.

At the far eastern end of the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges you will come across Aritunga, which is the oldest town in central Australia. Aritunga was also a gold mining town, and although mining has now stopped, mining has recommenced a short distance from the town. You can learn about the history of the town at the Visitor Centre, where you can even pan for gold outside. It is also possible to go down into several of the old mine shafts.

From Aritunga you can either take the scenic route back to the Stuart Highway which heads north before heading back west, or continue for 2 more hours east, until you reach Ruby Gap (4WD only). People rushed to Ruby Gap in the 1960-80s, as they sought for rubies, which were later discovered to be Garnets. Although several miners did well from it, the others were left not as rich as they had planned. If you are planning to stay in Ruby Gap then make sure you bring your own water and supplies, and also collect fire wood on your journey into Ruby Gap.




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