Glen Helen Gorge

After heading west out of Alice Springs along the MacDonnell Ranges for 132 km, the fourth highest mountain in the Northern Territory came into view to our north…

Image: Mt Sonder

Mount Sonder (1380m)

… Mount Sonder, which stands 1,380 meters above sea level (4,528 feet)

Mount Sonder is the end ‘marker’ of the famed Larapinta walking trail that traverses across country 223 kilometres (139 miles) from Alice Springs. The walk is broken down into 12 stages so sections can be enjoyed for those without the time (or inclination) to attempt the entire 14 day hike.

Having been travelling Namatjira Drive for 85 km, below is a painting by the road’s namesake, artist Albert Namatjira – A watercolour painted circa 1958 of Mt Sonder, which is held by the National Gallery of Australia.

Image: Albert Namatjira painting Mt Sonder

Albert Namatjira (1902 – 1959) was an aboriginal artist who painted in an adapted western style using watercolours – He was the first aboriginal to be granted Australian citizenship.

To the south of Namatjira Drive is Glen Helen Gorge ~ Our destination for an overnight stay with hosts Shelagh and Colin.

Image: Glen Helen

Glen Helen Resort is situated on the banks of the Finke River.

The Finke River is one of Central Australia’s largest river systems yet has only nine permanent waterholes along its course ~ Glen Helen is situated on one of those permanent waterholes.

Image: Glen Helen Gorge Waterhole

When we arrived (mid November), we were informed this waterhole had just started flowing again :)

Image: Glen Helen Gorge

After a quick look in the Glen Helen reception shop, where we spotted some Journey Jottings Mail-It Maps in amongst the postcards…

Glen Helen souvenir memento

It was time for a delicious barbeque of kebab’d vegetables, which we devoured under the twinkling starry outback sky down by the water’s edge overlooking the Finke River, to the escarpment on the far side.

Image: Glen Helen Gorge

I wish I had photographs to share of that night sky – An outback night sky is so…. expansive… uninterrupted… infinite :)

However, I do have photographs of the sunrise, which we were up at the crack of dawn, the next day, to capture.

Image: sunrise at Glen Helen

Image: Sunrise at Glen Helen

Image: Sunrise at Glen Helen

The West MacDonnell Ranges are a stunning area to visit – There is so much variety of landscape and things to see and do –

In the 130 km from Alice Springs to Glen Helen we stopped off at Standley Chasm, the Ochre Pits and Ormiston Gorge and loved each and every one of them, so do check out the blog post links there to read more :)

Image: Central Australia pictorial map

 This was as far west as we could go in our Maui motorhome as beyond Glen Helen the road reverts to dirt, so only 4WD hire vehicles can go on to Redbank Gorge and round the Mereenie Loop Road to Kings Canyon (Watarrka National Park).

Image: Glen Helen Gorge

So it was farewell to the West MacDonnells for us and back to Alice Springs, where we were going to head north for 400km to our next stop ~ the Devil’s Marbles.

Have you visited the West MacDonnell Ranges?

What was your favourite spot?

Do share in the commets below :)

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6 thoughts on “Glen Helen Gorge

    • Is it because we’re a devilish lot?
      Or maybe those early settlers had a wicked sense of humour?

      Although to be fair, to get the odd shaped rocks to roll would take some devilish doings ;)

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