MacDonnell Ranges, Northern Territory
The MacDonnell Ranges sprawl for hundreds of kilometres across the Northern Territory, inspiring the ancient mythology of the Arrernte people who believe the slender alignment of the mountains was formed by giant caterpillars. The western portion of the MacDonnell Ranges is within an easy distance of Alice Springs, and the rugged landscape of rocky chasms and sharp cliff-faces is a uniquely Australian sight. Visitors to Simpsons Gap can wander beneath majestic ghost gums lining deep waterholes, and even catch a glimpse of the elusive rock wallaby hopping through the rocky crevices.
It is worth enduring the midday heat for a walk to the steep Standley Chasm, which famously blazes in red tones under the overhead sun. Another highlight is the 20 kilometre-wide crater at Gosse Bluff (or ‘Tnorala’ to the indigenous people) formed by a comet crashing to Earth millions of years ago. If the scorching heat gets too unbearable, a dip in one of the many red-gum lined waterholes across the ranges is a good way to cool off - for instance at Ellery Creek Big Hole, Glen Helen Gorge, Redbank Gorge or Ormiston George.
Though not as famous as the West McDonnell Ranges, the East McDonnell Ranges still offers many unique experiences and sights to visitors, for instance the ghost town of Arltunga – an abandoned settlement from the gold-rush in the 1930’s. Another highlight is the picturesque Trephina Gorge, where you can bushwalk, camp and four-wheel drive.