With its soaring red walls and impressive pound formation, the very photogenic Ormiston Gorge is a highlight of the West MacDonnell National Park. It’s a perfect spot to explore the amazing quartzite formations of the West MacDonnell Range. As it’s only 135km along a sealed road from Alice Springs, the gorge is still very popular with day-trippers, although it’s not usually as crowded as some of the park’s other gorges.
Probably the most well known of the gorge’s attractions is the waterhole, which is a very popular spot to enjoy a swim. It’s just a five minute walk to the waterhole from the visitor centre, and even on the hottest days the cold water is likely to take your breath away.
To explore a little further, take the popular 20 minute Ghost Gum Lookout Walk for amazing views through the gorge.
More serious hikers may like to consider the Ormiston Pound Walk, which is a three to four hour circuit over rocky terrain through this natural amphitheatre. However, anyone wanting to tackle this walk should plan to start out early to avoid the midday heat. The end of this trail loops back across the waterhole, which makes for a refreshing wade after your exertions.
As the gorge is the trackhead for sections 9 and 10 of the Larapinta Trail, it’s also possible to sample just a bit of this multi-day hike from Alice Springs to Mt Sonder. If you don’t have the setup or stamina to tackle the whole thing, then the walk from Ormiston Gorge to Glen Helen Gorge is actually one of the easier bits to try.
If you want to spend a little more time just relaxing around the gorge then there’s also a campground with toilets, hot showers and barbecues. Fees do apply, and just be warned that it’s generally very busy in the cooler months. So, if you’re visiting in the winter months and wish to camp, make sure you get in early. If you do decide to camp, don’t miss the opportunity to see some early morning birdlife around the campsite too.