7. Explore the West Macs
The West MacDonnell Ranges stretch 160km west of Alice Springs and are famous for their postcard-like scenery, world-class hikes, swimming holes and natural treasures. Join a tour or drive yourself. See black-footed rock wallabies near the permanent waterhole at Simpsons Gap. At noon, watch the walls of Standley Chasm glow bright red. Swim at Ellery Creek Big Hole. Explore Ormiston Gorge, Glen Helen and the Ochre Pits, a sacred site still used by local Aboriginal people.
8. Explore the East Macs
Head east from Alice Springs to explore the East MacDonnell Ranges. See Aboriginal rock art at Emily Gap and have a picnic at nearby Jessie Gap. Take the circular walking track at Corroboree Rock then head for Trephina Gorge, one of the East’s best attractions. Further along in N'Dhala Gorge (four-wheel-drive only from here), see more than 5000 ancient rock carvings then wander around the ruins of Central Australia’s first town at the Arltunga Historical Reserve. Explore beautiful Ruby Gap, where tiny garnets were once found.
9. Camp at Rainbow Valley
Plan for sunset at Rainbow Valley, a colourful sandstone bluff with bands that change from blazing ochre to purple in the dying light. Take the short walk to Mushroom Rock, an unusual sandstone formation with a natural tunnel formed over millennia. Join a day trip from Alice Springs (75km south, four-wheel-drive required) or take your gear and camp. There are toilets, barbecues and picnic tables.
10. Explore Albert Namatjira’s birthplace
Explore the settlement of Hermannsburg (an easy 1.5-hour drive west of Alice Springs), Central Australia’s first town and home of famous Aboriginal watercolour artist, Albert Namatjira. Visit his home and the museum, refresh at the Kata Anga Tea Rooms and wander around the Namatjira Gallery, with original Albert Namatjira paintings and works by the acclaimed Hermannsburg Potters.