Day 4 in the West MacDonnells

We had a relaxing day at Glen Helen. Reading, playing cards and games and lazing about.

We did do the short walk to Glen Helen Gorge and it is another spectacular place. The gorge was formed by the Finke River and due to the recent rains the river was running and the huge waterhole at the base of the gorge was very full.

It would have been a perfect spot for a kayak if I’d brought it on this trip. However it was left at home to make way for more wood and we’ve needed that more. It’s been freezing cold at night. A little camp fire has been lovely to sit around.

There are a couple of natural features of Glen Helen Gorge called the Organ Pipes and the Stone Window however to get there involves a swim through the icy waters of the waterhole and a further walk along the river. None of us were too keen to swim!

The traditional owners of the land will not swim in the permanent waterhole at Glen Helen as they believe it is home of an ancient and powerful Rainbow Serpent.

The Finke River starts in the West MacDonnells and travels some 700km across plains and through rugged ranges before it disappears altogether in the desert sands towards Lake Eyre. The permanent waterholes were lifelines for the Arrernte people especially during times of drought. The Finke River was a major trade route for Aboriginal people for thousands of years.

John McDouall Stuart and his party were the first non-Aboriginal people to visit Central Australia and they saw the river in 1860. By the 1870’s the river had become a major trade route for early settlers.

The Finke River is often described as the world’s oldest river. It has been following the same general course for approximately 100 million years and is home to nine species of fish.

We decided to stay one more night at Glen Helen and there was plenty of room in the unpowered section. We had another gorgeous sunset. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the whole of the western skyline glowed red, orange and pink as the sun dipped below the horizon. It was really beautiful.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s