Everyone travels to the West MacDonnells when visiting Alice Springs but a lot fewer travel to the East and that’s a shame because we found our stay at Trephina Gorge to be a real highlight of the trip. We began by driving out with stops at Emily and Jessie Gaps and Corroboree Rock but they were just the tasters of what was to come.
As you drive into Trephina Gorge the dominant rock formation is the hulking red rock of The Bluff which overlooks the first campsite. We elected to stay at the last campsite but they are all very close together. We firstly took the short circuit of Trephina Gorge, climbing along the rocks for the view from above and then returning through the dry gorge.
The next walk took us up higher for a sweeping view down the valley and on to the surrounding countryside. The rocks glowed red at sunrise and sunset as well as the bonus of the full moon rising.
The next day’s walk was at the end of a 4WD track which had one hump we didn’t want to chance our vehicle on giving us an extra 6 km of easy walking. The Chain of Ponds walk saw us viewing the gorge from above and then walking over the hills to the top end and walking down the glorious rock slabs of the canyon till we were stopped by the sheer drop to the rockhole. It was a very scenic walk for not much effort. We finished by visiting the rock hole in it’s own little enclosure.
One 300 year old ghost gum was very impressive as we usually see skinny ones clinging to the sides of gorges. We headed up the hill to enjoy the sunset.
Our last day was spent at Arltunga, the first gold mining area in the Northern Territory which didn’t produce a lot of gold but did get the Centre started. The area has been well preserved and there were walks with detailed brochures at all the points of interest. We particularly enjoyed being invited to go into the mines and explore, even being provided with ladders to descend into one. The local birds make use of an abandoned shaft that is filled with water and covered with mesh so people don’t fall in. It doesn’t stop thirsty birds.