The next stop was Ormiston Gorge which is 135 kms from Alice Springs & is about 8 kms further on from the turn off from Namatjira Drive. This stunning gorge is the trailhead for sections 9 and 10 of the Larapinta Trail walk. There is a near-permanent waterhole that is ideal for swimming, especially in the warmer months. Just 500 metres from the visitor centre, it is estimated to be up to 14 metres deep at its southern end. Explore the area via the Ormiston Pound Walk - a three to four hour circuit that leaves from the visitor centre to cross the rocky slopes and the flat floor of the pound and back along the gorge via the main waterhole. The area contains an interesting variety of native fauna and flora including several relict plant species from Central Australia's tropical past. The park is also an important fauna refuge, with the rediscovery of the Long-tailed Dunnart and the Central Rock Rat here in 1997. One can pitch a tent in a designated camping site (fees apply).
Our final stop was at Glen Helen Gorge which is located 132 kilometres from Alice Springs, in the western reaches of the West MacDonnell Ranges, and is a popular overnight stop for drivers embarking on the Red Centre Way from Alice Springs.
The landscape around Glen Helen 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.
At Glen Helen Gorge, the ranges part to make way for the Finke River. This permanent waterhole is an important refuge in the hot summer months, for all nine species of fish recorded for the Finke, as well as migrating waterbirds. From here the Finke River makes its way on to the Simpson Desert.
The medium grade one-day Section 10 of the 223 Larapinta Trail walk ends at Glenn Helen Junction. Camping fees apply and overnight visitors should bring their own water supplies. Commercial facilities are available at Glen Helen Resort.
Note that as of 13th Sept 2020 the Glen Helen Gorge area is CLOSED until further notice The Glen Helen Lodge remains closed due to COVID-19 impact on the local tourism industry and a significant decrease in patronage.
Access to Glen Helen Gorge is also closed, so there is no access to the swimming spot and there is no firm date on re-opening. It is interesting to note however the area's traditional owners believe that this inviting swimming spot is the home of the ancient and powerful Rainbow Serpent and therefore regard it as off limits.
Once back at the campground at Alice, a group of vintage cars towing camper trailers rolled in for a few nights stop whilst taking part in the Vintage Drivers Club Gunbarrel Highway Rally/Outback Australia Challenge.
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