Glen Helen (including Ormiston Gorge and Pound
One of the most beautiful gorges in Central Australia
Glen Helen is located 133 km west of Alice Springs
at the end of the sealed section of road known as Namatjira Drive. No one knows who named the region but it was one of the first pastoral leases in Central Australia
. The first owner, Alan Braeden, overlanded stock over 2000 km and built a house, Munga Munga, on the bank of Ormiston Creek
. It is now nothing more than a pile of rubble.
Today the term Glen Helen is applied to the lodge, the gorge near the lodge and the surrounding 368 hectare Nature Park controlled by the Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory
. Glen Helen Lodge offers accommodation, water, fuel, camping and picnic facilities as well as a licensed bar and restaraunt. It is a beautiful place set against the background of a stunning gorge and large waterhole in the Finke River. The lodge itself is an old carefully restored homestead
after fire had destroyed the original buildings. The setting is inspiring, rooms are comfortable and affordable, the hospitality is courteous and warm and the meals are delicious. Camping fees do apply. You can also pick up the required pass to travel on the Mereenie Loop Road
to Wattarka (Kings Canyon
). If you are considering staying here, you can make this Glen Helen the base to explore one of the most spell-binding regions in the Territory.
The Glen Helen Gorge
is formed from quartzite. Sandstone
was deposited in the area some 500 million years ago when it was a huge inland sea. It was subsequently tilted and uplifted. As this uplift was occurring the Finke River slowly eroded its way through the mountain range.
Glen Helen is known to local Aborigines as Yapalpe and the Finke River is Larapinta which means 'serpent'. It was a favourite meeting place for the Aboriginal people from the West and Central MacDonnell Ranges.
The rocky slopes around the gorge are home to a colony of black-footed rock wallabies which sometimes appear in the late afternoon and early evening to feed on grass, herbs, leaves and fruits.
Things to see:
Glen Helen Nature Park
The Glen Helen Nature Park is located on the headwaters of the Finke River and offers visitors spectacular views of the gorge which has been cut by the river. Of particular note is the large waterhole near the Glen Helen Lodge which can have a depth of over 30 metres. It is important to the Aboriginal mythology of the area as it was from this waterhole that some of the creatures of the Dreamtime emerged. Ormiston Gorge and Pound
The park has a number of signposted walks ranging from a short, 100 metre blindfold sensory walk (a unique way of experiencing the desert) near the Information Centre to a three day walk to Mount Giles. Perhaps the most popular, and most practical, walk is the 1-2 hour Ghost Gum Walk (so named because of the single Ghost Gum which stands like a sentinel above the gorge) which traverses the gorge and passes the near-permanent waterhole at the southern end of Ormiston Gorge
Accommodation at the 4655 hectare Ormiston Gorge and Pound
National Park is restricted to a small camping area. For those wanting something a little more sophisticated it is necessary to travel on to the Glen Helen Lodge.
Cloudy's Restaurant., Glen Helen Homestead
Glen Helen NT 0870
Telephone: (08) 8956 7489