Groves of rare red cabbage palms reaching tall towards the sun from the shady protection of the Finke Gorge’s red sandstone cliffs are a sight to be remembered from any visit to Palm Valley in the little-known Finke Gorge National Park. An advantage of visiting this park is that you’re more likely to be able to soak up the amazing landscape in relative peace and quiet, as it isn’t as popular with tourists as some of the neighbouring areas, like Kings Canyon and the West MacDonnell Ranges. So, make the most of the solitude before word gets out about this gem of geological and flora wonders.
To really experience this remarkable park you’ll need to pull on the walking shoes and head off on some of the hikes. Before you reach the main Palm Valley area, take the 45 minute return walk to Kalarranga Lookout for breathtaking views over the amphitheatre. If you have more energy and time, the two hour Mpaara Walk also starts at the Kalarranga car park.
In Palm Valley there are two options to see the amazing palms up close. These tall, distinctive palms are unique to Palm Valley and the only palms found in Central Australia. The one hour Arankaia Walk heads into the main palm groves, but to see even more of the plateau you should tackle the two hour return Mpulungkinya Walk.
A shady campsite with showers, toilets and barbecues is provided in the Palm Valley section of the park. If you’re just doing a day trip, then pop in to the day use area for your lunch break.
Finke Gorge is about two hours drive from Alice Springs and only the last 16km requires 4WD. If you don’t have a 4WD you can visit with a tour from Alice Springs. Experienced four-wheel drivers can explore further beyond the Palm Valley section down the ancient Finke River. The cooler months are the best time to visit because of the searing summertime temperatures. The access roads are closed after rain so always check the latest conditions with rangers before you head out.