Slater’s Skink: Christmas in the Northern Territory’s Desert Gem Finke Gorge National Park

And the spicy journey across the Northern Territory continues, let’s take a look at what the Norther team brought for you today 🔎

🎶On the seventh day of Christmas,

Norther brought to me the elusive Liopholis slateri

And a magical journey through the valley of palms, Finke Gorge National Park!!! 🌴🌴🌴

Slater’s Skink in Finke Gorge National Park

COMMON NAME: Slater’s Skink

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Liopholis slateri 

TYPE: Reptile

DIET: Ants and termites

SIZE: 97mm

The Slater’s Skink is a lizard and lizards are part of the reptile family.  They are smooth- scaled with a deep head and a short snout. Their heads and back are olive grey-brown colour, which grades to a pale salmon-pink on the flanks. The edges of some upper scales form longitudinal stripes. (oooh math!)

Similarly, dark-edged scales on the lateral side of the head form distinct markings. This can be an easy way of identifying individuals. (How cool is that?) Liopholis species grow to a length of 85 mm while the larger lizards may grow up to 97 mm. It takes about two years to reach maturity and they live for more than five years! 

Where does Slater’s Skink Live?

Slater’s Skink (Liopholis slateri) is a rare and endangered lizard that occupies floodplains of the Finke River in Finke Gorge National Park. It is a burrower and creates complex, multi-entrance burrow systems in the mound of soil that builds up around the base of some shrubs and small trees. (Lizard architects!) Be on the lookout for such mounds when you explore Finke Gorge National Park. The Lizards like to live as pairs of lizards and share the workload of burrowing. (Teamwork makes the dreamwork!)

What does Slater’s Skink Eat?

These burrowing specialists use an ambush strategy for foraging. (Foraging is a way to look for food.) They are quick on their feet and wait for their prey at the entrances of their homes (working smarter not harder!). The Liopholis slateri is a dietary generalist which means it consumes a wide range of invertebrate prey, mainly ants and termites. (Yummy????)

Like these loveable lizards? It’s time to colour it in! Share this with your friends and see who can do the most creative design. Wanna feature your creation on our Instagram? Email us [email protected] and we’ll share the most creative creation on our Instagram page

Yours in adventure,

Have a Merry Norther Christmas 

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Christmas – Finke Gorge

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Home to the Palm Valley, Finke Gorge National Park is a dream for the most adventurous explorers! Sounds like you? Get to know more of what Finke has to offer, we promise, you will love it!

Finke Gorge National Park

Finke Gorge National Park is one of the most exciting places to visit in the Northern Territory. It is about 2 hrs west of Alice Springs. Turn south off Larapinta Drive just west of Hermannsburg.  You will need a 4WD high clearance vehicle to explore this bucket list worthy and partially sandy Finke River bed road. Since it is usually affected by heavy rains in the wet season it is best to check if you can access it before embarking on the adventure.

Adventurous? Challenge yourself by doing the Finke River Track. 4WD only. 

When is a good time to visit Finke Gorge National Park (an explorer’s paradise)? 

You are able to visit all year round unless the Finke River is flooded. It is also better to visit from April to September as these are the cooler months. In the warmer months it is harder to explore in the heat.

There are several things to do in the Park. ​​From camping, picnicking and walking this is the place to explore. There is a beautiful campground with gas barbies, showers and toilets. Perfect to bring the kiddos and ideal for a glamping trip too! You can also camp on the Finke River Bed but fires can only be lit in the communal fire pits. (Safety first!)

Finke Gorge National Park: Walks

The walks here are simply gorgeous!!!!! 

You can enjoy panoramic views over a spectacular red rock amphitheatre from the Kalarranga Lookout. It is a 1.5km 45 minute return walk and is considered an easy climb, you will still need comfortable shoes for the hike. You can access this trail from Palm Valley, this is a well signposted trail so you cannot miss it. To make this walk more pleasant you will need to bring plenty of water and sunscreen as there is not much shade on the trail. This is an ideal trail for bird watchers so be sure to bring you binoculars.

The Mpaara Walk is a bit more challenging. It is a 5 km, 2 hours return walk that starts at the Kalarranga. Here you can learn more about the Western Aranda First Nations people.  

On this track you can enjoy groves of Red Cabbage Palms and take in the views of Finke River as you hike along the scenic track. There is camping at the trailhead. Be sure to book in advance if you want to camp here. 

The other beautiful walks in the park are the Arankaia Walk which is (2 km, 1 hour) and the longer Mpulungkinya Walk which is a 5 km, 2 hrs return walk. The path meanders across some rocky surfaces with patches of sandy sections. You will need comfortable shoes for both terrains. Further down the walk you can enjoy sparse groups of Red Cabbage Palms. The path follows along Palm Creek which feeds life to the vegetation in the area. Further down you will meet a wide, amphitheatre-like section and you can enjoy panoramic views over the valley.

Finke Gorge National Park is a treasure you will love. Be sure to bring extra fuel and water for your trip. 

Thanks for journeying with us! We would love your feedback on this page – please comment below if you’ve been to Finke Gorge National Park or seen a Slater’s Skink Lizard.

Norther would like to invite you to explore more about the beauty of Finke Gorge National Park here. And… as always you can get more inspiration for other National Parks & Destinations to visit by following @northerhq or get your Finke Gorge National Park Daily fix @finkegorgenationalpark

*Cover image by @wrightsadventures13 on IG. 

Picture of Norther


NORTHER ® provides encouragement for travellers to value, enjoy and explore the NT in a one-of-kind way so they can honour and respect culture through care and integrity.

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Finke Gorge National Park Tours