Despite the desert landscape surrounding Alice Springs, there’s no shortage of stunning gorges to admire. The streams that run through them create an ideal way to cool off during a day of adventures in the heat of the red centre. The most popular gorges are located in the MacDonnell Ranges, just a few hours’ drive from Alice Springs, and many are close to walking tracks and campsites, making them ideal for day trips or overnight stays.
Image Source: Tourism NT/Bronte Stephens
One of the most regal gorges in the entire Northern Territory is Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park. Nestled beneath striking 100-metre sandstone walls is a dazzling waterhole, surrounded by lush greenery, known as the Garden of Eden. Enjoy the Kings Creek Walk around the base of the canyon, or embark on the Kings Canyon Rim Walk around the edge, before relaxing in the cool waters below.
Glen Helen Gorge
The permanent waterhole at Glen Helen Gorge is fed by the Finke River and provides a sensational place to swim with breathtaking views of the spectacular sandstone walls and surrounding ranges. Look out for birds, fish, reptiles, and black-footed rock-wallabies as you enjoy the glimmering water, and climb the cliffs for a better view of the deep valley and majestic mountains. A resort and campsite are available onsite if you're not ready to say goodbye after one day.
Best known for its gorgeous waterhole and astounding scenery, Ormiston Gorge is one of the most photographed places in the Red Centre. And it’s easy to see why. The dramatic gorge cuts around 300 metres deep through walls of orange and red quartzite, creating an impressive geological masterpiece. This is a wonderful place to spot exotic flora and fauna or enjoy a scenic walk. The trail up to the Ghost Gum Lookout takes around 15 minutes, or keen walkers can tackle the Pound Walk which takes approximately 3-4 hours.
Redbank Gorge is an ideal place to take a floatie and simply drift through the serene waters. The narrow gorge at the base of Mount Sonder is home to a stunning near-permanent waterhole. It takes approximately 20 minutes to reach the swimming hole from the car park, following the 1KM sandy, rocky creek bed. The water can be particularly cold here, however, there are several scenic walking tracks to help you warm up before braving the cool water. Camping is also available.
Located in Trephina Gorge Nature Park, Trephina Gorge is characterised by fantastic views and its sandy creek bed. There are two gorges which intersect the East MacDonnell Ranges, with the other being John Hayes Rock Hole. The Trephina Ridge Top Walk connects the two, and both are pleasant places to swim. The nature park itself is also home to plenty of short walking trails, and an abundance of plants, birds, and other wildlife. It is best to visit in the cooler months, as the summer heat can cause the water to dry up.