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The Ultimate 4-Day West MacDonnell Ranges Family Itinerary

Did you know that in the heart of the Northern Territory is a place like no other, one where you can escape and surround yourself with incredible landscapes? Exploring the West MacDonnell Ranges will leave you wanting more as you fall in love with this region and its fantastic rock formations, canyons, and creeks.

Read on as we detail our 4-day adventure in the West MacDonnell Ranges, highlighting the top sights and attractions along the way.

Photo of Mereenie Road with a 4WD towing a caravan
Photo by @travelling_with_five on IG

Family Adventures in the West MacDonnell Ranges

We are a travelling family with three kids, and together, we decided we wanted to get off the highway and give the kids a back-to-nature experience.

We started Day 1 by ensuring we had our permits and enough food and water for the next few days. As we left Kings Canyon and headed out to drive the 150km of dirt on the Mereenie Road, we got our first taste of the ranges and were not disappointed. The road conditions were reasonable, and by taking precautions and driving to the conditions, we had no problems at all.

Day 1: Redbank Gorge

Our first stop was the Woodlands Campground at Redbank Gorge. This is a quiet campground with clean toilets and BBQs ready for use.

If you arrive early enough in the day, we recommend heading up to Redbank Gorge and making the 20-minute walk out to the water hole. This is an easy walk through the dry creek bed with some rocks to navigate over as you reach the end. The water is perfect for swimming, and this makes a great spot to create an adventure.

Follow the gorge and explore all the way through until you find the small beach toward the end. We spent about 2.5 hours here before returning to camp to enjoy dinner around the fire while watching the sunset.

 

Picture of Ormiston Gorge
Ormiston Gorge photo by @travelling_with_five on IG
Picture of Father and Son all smiles with a floatie while swimming in Ellery Creek Big Hole, West MacDonnell National Park
@travelling_with_five on IG swimming in Ellery Creek Big Hole

Day 2: Ormiston Gorge

On day two, we headed towards our next campground at Ellery Creek Big Hole, but only after making some stops to enjoy the day. We arrived at Ormiston Gorge and ate lunch before visiting the kiosk to treat ourselves to well-deserved ice cream. It was time to grab the towels and pool noodles and head for the swimming hole. This was by far one of our favourite spots. The kids loved the large beach area to play, and the water was so clear we could see the bottom; they even found a few rocks to jump off.

This is the type of place you could easily sit all day, surrounded by stunning red cliffs, green trees and beautiful clear waters. There is much to do here, with hikes and camping also available on-site. As 3 pm rolled around, we made the call to continue on our camp for the evening. A short drive to Ellery Creek, we were all set up and able to walk down to the big hole to enjoy watching the sunset over the water as we listened to the birds.

This was the perfect campsite, with excellent facilities, including clean flushing toilets, BBQs, and communal fire pits where you could meet your neighbours and share stories. It was here that the kids played with new friends from Denmark, and we chatted with fellow travellers from across Australia. 

 

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Day 3: Standley Chasm and Ellery Creek Big Hole

We were excited to head out for a day trip to Standley Chasm on day three. The wonderful staff at the café were great to chat with and were happy to share their knowledge of the area.

We purchased our tickets and completed the easy 15-minute walk out to the Chasm. What a sight to be seen! It is a place you need to stand in and experience the beauty of how these rock formations surround you. That afternoon was spent exploring the Ellery Creek Big Hole back at camp. We swam to the other side and explored the surrounding area before spending our last afternoon having a picnic afternoon tea and playing with the kids.

 It was here that the kids were able to spend three days without reception. They were never bored, as they got to explore, climb, swim, and hike through some of the most stunning places we have ever been.

Picture of Ellery Creek Big Hole
Ellery Creek Big Hole photo by @travelling_with_five on IG
 
Picture of a family. Mom, Dad, two girls and a boy all smiles.
@travelling_with_five on IG

Day 4: End of the West MacDonnell Adventure

Day four saw the end of our West MacDonnell Ranges adventure. As we headed towards Alice Springs, we stared out the window, admiring the world around us. We all commented that our favourite memories were the past few days.

We have undoubtedly yet to see it all but instead have gotten an incredible taste of what the ranges can offer. It is a place to unplug, be with family and friends, make new friends, and experience nature how it is meant to be seen. We will be back.

 

Remember to pack your sense of adventure, respect for nature, and an open mind as you set out to discover the West MacDonnell Ranges. Leave only footprints behind as you traverse the trails and immerse yourself in the pristine wilderness of the National Park! We would love your feedback – we encourage you to share your experiences, questions, and suggestions in the comments below. 

You can always get more inspiration for other National Parks to visit by following @northerhq or get your West MacDonnell National Park daily fix @westmacdonnellnationalpark

*Cover image is by @travelling_with_five on IG.

Picture of Emma Jolly

Emma Jolly

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