Think you can’t swim in the desert? Think again. The desert country around Alice Springs is surprisingly good for a swim.
Drive through the West MacDonnell Ranges, and within two hours of Alice Springs you can swim in pretty natural waterholes at Ellery Creek Big Hole, Ormiston Gorge, Redbank Gorge and Glen Helen Gorge.
Ellery Creek Big Hole
Take the easy hour’s drive west of Alice Springs to Ellery Creek Big Hole, the incredible outback swimming hole known for its cold, deep water and impressive rocky escarpments.
At only 90 km from Alice, it’s the perfect day trip destination. Pack a picnic or bring your tent and stay overnight in the bush camp site. There’s also free gas barbecues, shade shelters, picnic tables, showers and toilets.
You’ll be mistaken for thinking you’re on the coast and not in the desert when you take the short walk into Ormiston Gorge, 135 km west of Alice Springs.
This near-permanent swimming hole is 155 km west of Alice Springs at the base of Mount Sonder. Take one of the walking tracks to warm you up first—Redbank Gorge is known for its very cold water!
Take a raft or rubber ring to drift through the gorge and take in the serenity.
Glen Helen Gorge
An hour and a half from Alice Springs is Glen Helen Gorge and its shady waterhole. A very short walk from the car park and you’re at the water’s edge, with sheer quartzite cliffs looking above. Keep an eye out for the many birds and animals that live here too.
Back in town
Cool off in your hotel pool or head to the Alice Springs Aquatic and Leisure Centre, which has a heated indoor lap pool, a second pool with disabled ramp access with beach entry, spa, ‘lazy river’ and two water slides.