Simpsons Gap

Visitors to the West MacDonnell Ranges usually have their first taste of its spectacular scenery with a visit to Simpsons Gap, as it is the first "stopping point" on the drive to the ranges from Alice Springs. Maybe it is because this is the first Central Australian gap they see, but for many visitors  to the area, it is often the image of its jagged rocks shone shades of orange and red and reflected peacefully in the pool of water below, the red sand and the vividly contrasting green vegetation that they recall when speaking of this starkly beautiful area.

The area is an important spiritual site to the Arrarnta Aboriginal people, where several dreaming trails and stories cross.  At dawn or dusk Simpsons Gap it is renowned as a place to see Black-footed Rock-wallabies along the gap's short walking track beside a permanent waterhole, fed by Roe Creek. Good examples of many of the vegetation communities of the MacDonnell Ranges are found in the Simpsons Gap area, including large stands of Mulga, and the area around the gap is a major stronghold for some of the rare and relict plants of the region. A Visitor Information Centre is just past the entrance gate and offers a good introduction for first time visitors.  The displays highlights points of interest within the park and provides information on the areas natural and cultural history.

The best time to visit is either in the late afternoon or early morning, when the incredible reds and oranges of the sun on the ranges makes for some of the most incredible photographs you’ll ever take.


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Location: 17 km west of Alice Springs off Larapinta Drive in the West MacDonnell National Park. The Gap itself is located at the end of Darken Drive 6 km from the intersection with Larapinta Drive.


There is a short walk behind the ranger station called the Ghost Gum Walk, which is very easy and only takes about 15 minutes. Back on the road, after crossing Roe Creek again, you'll come to carparks marking the trail heads of the Woodland Walk and Cassia Hill Walk.  The Cassia Hill Walk is a short loop walk of about 1.5km. It takes you through a variety of outback habitats onto a small hill, where you can take some fantastic photos of the West MacDonnell Ranges. The Woodland Walk is 17 km return. It’s a very easy walk that takes you into some lesser-visited sections of the Park. The walk takes you out to Bond Gap, and returns via Section 2 of the Larapinta Trail.

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