Advice on Alice Springs / Uluru / West Macdonnell Ranges trip late October

We are spending 2 weeks out of Alice in a rented 4x4 camper in late October and would welcome any and all advice as to:
good camping spots (with showers preferably),
best spots to visit,
road & weather conditions
locations & roads to avoid...(remember this is a hire 4x4 with a folding shovel & snatch strap as the recovery gear!)

We are interested to see landmarks as well as indigenous sites (cave painting, ochre pits etc)- also want to do a camel ride, and chopper flight over canyon (?Kings creek station).

All hints and help greatly appreciated


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Reply By: Member - Anthony W Adelaide - Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 00:37

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 00:37
Palm Valley is really nice with good facilities (showers etc) and Finke River NP including boggy hole is nice spot too but no facilities at all.

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Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 07:45

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 07:45
The Larapinta Drive west of Alice runs along the base of Heavitree and Chewing ranges. There are numerous gorges, but you do have to do some walking, you drive to places to start a walk. The Cchre Pits are only a km or so off the Drive
Camp at Ormiston Gorge (they have showers) and do the Ormiston Pound walk. You can also camp at Elery Big Hole but I don't think there are showers.
You can swim at both.
If you are fit there are phenomenal views to be had at Count's look out which is between Serpentine Dam and Chalet. It is a 14km round trip walk, make sure you do it early in the day and take plenty of water (4L per person + water back in vehicle).
Likewise there is a spectacular walk up beyond Stanley Chasm, about 10km return (the chasm part is only a few hundred metres, the back of it is more spectacular to me).
We have stayed at Kings Ck Station over Kings Ck resort. The resort looked fine, but the Station is owned by locals and they tend to have more long term employees who can fill you in on the district better than the Resort. It's normally a 2 night stay, arrive 1 afternoon, walk the Canyon the next day (make sure you look at Kathleen Springs midway between The Canyon and Station).

I have not been to the East Macs, but they tell me there is a worthwhile drive. I researched it a fe wyears ago but as we were hauling a camper trailer decided against it. You end up goping through cattlewater (? or similar name) pass to around Gemtree on the Plenty Highway. Many people say they prefer the East Macs ove rthe West Macs.

Uluru is about 3 days, 1 day at Olgas, 1 day at Uluru, perhaps 1 day of rest and washing. Don't expect to climb it, from Oct with warmer days you will be very lucky to find it open.

Not been into Palm Valley or Boggy Hole, people say it is well worthwhile. Best of luck using that folding shovel, it's one step up from your hands I suppose. IF you are serious you will have a long handled shovel and a snatch strap is useless without another vehicle. Adjust your tyre pressures (have a compressor) otehrwise you will just dig holes in the river bed I'm told, so unless you have them, do your research before going onto Boggy Hole.
AnswerID: 466219

Follow Up By: Marks2912 - Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 08:53

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 08:53
Thanks Mark & Wooly,
your ideas are appreciated.

We are planning to do some walking and are gearing up for the hot weather. I used to live/work across western NSW so I am figuring the heat in October wont be a huge shock (but I have been in Canberra for a few years and that , i am sorry to say, has made me rather soft ...).

Given we are flying in to Alice I doubt I can bring much recovery gear with us. Will stock up with emergency water / food and will have sat phone & epirb..and a pack of cards...

have a great day,

FollowupID: 740298

Follow Up By: BrownyGU - Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 11:51

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 11:51
+1 for Ormiston Gorge, a must see and good camp site with showers and toilets at a great price.

FollowupID: 740309

Follow Up By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 13:39

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 13:39

I've spent 11 days in 2 spells walking most of the Larapinta Trail which runs from Redbank Gorge back into Alice, about 220km all up, I was there last only a month ago.
IF you don't mind walking, when you do The Ormiston Pound walk, take a diversion over to Bowman's Gap in the NW corner of the Pound, there should be a good swimming hole.
Brinkley's bluff from Stanley Chasm is another great view, and a full days walk. Most people will tell you about the walk up Mt Sonder, but Count's, Ormiston Pound and Brinkley's Bluff are spectacular. The geology of the region is amazing.

The main dirt roads are fine, even Meerenie Loop is "doable" in a sedan as long as you take it steady. Sorry I can't help you with the more "extreme" tracks.

PS forgot to mention that Grosse's Bluff an old meteorite impact crater looks spectacular, people say it's well worth going into. Apparently you will need your high clearance to get in there.
FollowupID: 740313

Reply By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 09:20

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 09:20
G'day Mark, I'll leave the camps to others but you may need to note any restrictions on the hire vehicle as to what roads, if any, are off limits. Another point is, you can cover most of the excess insurance much more cheaply by buying travel insurance for
the appointed driver,rather than paying the exhorbitant extra daily rate the hirer will
ask. Easily available on line from Cover1 & others. Or you can punt it & accept the risk.
AnswerID: 466228

Follow Up By: Marks2912 - Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 11:43

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 11:43
thanks oldbaz,
yes, I have taken out travel insurance that include coverage of the ridiculously huge excess. Have looked at the restrictions on roads etc and can work within them - I would have liked to have put the $$ into getting my hilux up to the trip, but only have 2 weeks and dont have time to drive 2,800km each way
FollowupID: 740307

Reply By: Pradobob - Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 11:17

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 11:17
We just returned from nearly 4 months in NT. We stayed in caravan parks with power most nights. (aircon in van!)
Glen Helen Resort is good. Kings Canyon Resort, good, but $42 per night. Both have chopper flights starting at about $55 for 5min! We stayed at Family Parks CP in Alice for a few days. Cultural centre across the road is well worth a look. We also went out to Gemtree for a bit of fossicking.
Bear in mind that it is starting to get very hot up there. Sealed roads are good, unsealed are a bit cut up/corrugated.
Current fuel price in these remote places is $2.20 litre. Food/grog is also expensive, so stock up in Alice.
Some places recommend boiling the water before drinking.
Hope this helps.. enjoy your trip
AnswerID: 466236

Follow Up By: Marks2912 - Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 11:47

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 11:47
Thanks Bob,
I wonder if the pounding from the corrugated roads will be worse than the pounding my credit card is going to get?
Time will tell!
Thanks for the good straight, practical advice
FollowupID: 740308

Reply By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 12:34

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 12:34
Hi Mark

It will be getting hot. Walks such as the very worthwhile Kings Canyon Rim walk are closed when the temperature reached 36º. This walk starts with a steep climb and needs to be started early in the day to avoid the heat.

Check out my blogs (my blog section here) for 2008 blogs of our five weeks around Alice Springs. Covers it all except Kings Creek Station, camel rides and chopper flight.



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AnswerID: 466242

Reply By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 19:43

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 19:43
Mark, an option for camel rides is from Jim's Place / Stuart's Well Roadhouse. This is 90 kilometres south of Alice Springs on the Stuart Highway, and not far from the turnoff to the lovely Rainbow Valley. Jim Cotterill is part of the history of Kings Canyon.Camel Rides Jim's Place


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Follow Up By: Marks2912 - Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 22:06

Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011 at 22:06
Thanks Motherhen,
I will pull together a folder of bits and pieces and a rough itinerary to stick on the dash and then see where we end up...
FollowupID: 740387

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