Central Australian Expedition
- Mac Clark Conservation Reserve is one of the only places on earth where you will find the rare Acacia peuce; this tree is only found in three locations worldwide
- Dalhousie Springs is the perfect spot for a swim; this natural hot spring is large (with steps to get in and out) and the temperature ranges from 38 to 43 degrees celsius
- Finke Gorge National Park covers 46,000 hectares and is home to ancient landscapes and the Finke River (thought to be one of the oldest rivers in the world)
- Palm Valley has a diverse range of unique flora, including the rare Red Cabbage palm which is a botanic remnant from a time when Central Australia was dominated by tropical forests
- West MacDonnell Ranges National Park, known for its beauty and scenic gorges; the ranges also provide refuge for many plants and wildlife in the area
- Glen Helen is surrounded by mesmerising landscapes and is a great location to view the West MacDonnell Ranges. It is also perfect for a refreshing dip and provides refuge for the local wildlife.
Join us as we explore many Northern Territory and South Australian desert highlights and gorges.
The trip is a mixture of desert highlights including the Mac Clark (Acacia Puce – Wadi trees) Conservation Reserve, Old Andado and Dalhousie Springs. We also explore Finke Gorge National Park, where the valley floor is home to around 12,000 cabbage palms, which are unique to Central Australia. The West Macdonnell Ranges give us the opportunity to explore a number of different gorges filled with birdlife, botany, geology and spectacular scenery. There are a number of walks that we will undertake during our time in the ranges.
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Extended Trip Details
|Day 1||Alice Springs - Santa Teresa - Mac Clark Conservation Reserve - Old Andado||Leaving early this morning we head to the small community of Santa Teresa and the Aboriginal Art Centre. We then move on to the Mac Clark Conservation Reserve which protects rare Acacia Peuce trees. These trees are only found in three locations in the world; here, Birdsville and Boulia in Queensland. We then head down the Old Andado Track traversing through mountain ranges, rocky gibber plains, desert sand dunes and floodplains, before arriving at our first bush camp in the late afternoon. Accommodation: Bush Camp LD|
|Day 2||Old Andado – Finke River Crossing – Mount Dare – Dalhousie Springs||This morning we head south, crossing the Fink River and the South Australia - Northern Territory border into the Witjira National Park, home to over 120 freshwater mound springs. We will spend three nights at the National Heritage-listed Dalhousie Springs campsite, where you can swim in the main spring’s warm waters. This area is also home to some unique species of fish such as the Dalhousie hardyhead and other rare aquatic life found nowhere else in the world. Accommodation: Campsite Dalhousie Springs BLD|
|Days 3 & 4||Witjira National Park||We will spend two days in the park looking at some of the red mulga, gidgee, coolibah and whitewood trees along the creeks. Rare bird species like the Australian bustard, flock bronzewing and the plains wanderer, as well as dingoes, the central bearded dragon, Gould’s sand goanna and red kangaroos can be found in the park. Accommodation: Campsite Dalhousie Springs BLD|
|Day 5||Dalhousie Springs – Oodnadatta – Marla||This morning we will head south, passing through the ruins of Pedirka on the Old Ghan Railway. Then it’s onto Oodnadatta where we will again meet up with the Old Ghan and follow the Oodnadatta Track to Marla. Accommodation: Campsite Marla BLD|
|Day 6||Marla – Henbury Meteorites Cons Reserve – Running Waters Area||After breakfast we depart Marla and start our journey north towards Henry Meteorites Conservation Reserve. The reserve contains 12 craters formed by a meteor that hit the earth roughly 4,700 years ago. We observe the craters and explore their surroundings before continuing onto our bush camp. Accommodation: Bush Camp Running Waters area BLD|
|Day 7||Running Waters Area to Finke Gorge National Park (Palm Valley campsite)||This morning we will explore Running Waters. It is one of the few permanent waterholes providing a remote haven for plants, fish, birds and animals before we make our way to Finke Gorge National Park. There will be time to stop and look for plants and wildlife along the way. Our camp for the next two nights is in the Palm Valley. Accommodation: National Park Campsite Palm Valley BLD|
|Day 8||Palm Valley||We will spend the day exploring Palm Valley, home to a diverse range of plants and wildlife that are unique to the area including the Red Cabbage Palm which the valley is named after. We will enjoy some of the bushwalking trails that run alongside the slender palms, as well as the various sandstone amphitheatres, pinnacles and gorges scattered throughout the valley. Accommodation: National Park Campsite Palm Valley BLD|
|Day 9||Palm Valley to Glen Helen||After a final exploration of Palm Valley this morning, we make our way to Glen Helen. The glen is a beautiful waterhole edged by red cliffs and is home to Black-footed rock wallabies, euros and reptiles. It is also an excellent spot for a refreshing dip while enjoying the view of the West Macdonnell Ranges. Accommodation: Campsite Glen Helen BLD|
|Days 10 & 11||Glen Helen - West Macdonnell Ranges - Glen Helen||We will spend the next two days exploring Glen Helen, a beautiful waterhole edged by red quartzite cliff and the West Macdonnell Ranges. We will take trail walks, swim in waterholes and enjoy the spectacular scenery (photographers will be delighted). There will be plenty of opportunities to search for the various flora and fauna. Accommodation: Campsite Glen Helen BLD|
|Day 12||Glen Helen to Alice Springs||The adventure ends today with a final drive into Alice Springs following the Namatjira Drive. We will stop and take time to explore Standley Chasm on the way. On arrival in Alice Springs, we will transfer you to your chosen Alice Springs city hotel. BL|
NOTE: The above itinerary may be varied according to conditions and advice.
Places available on 27 June 2022 departure
- Two well-maintained 4WD vehicles;
- 2 crew members – a Naturalist/Driver Guide and Driver/Cook;
- Easy-to-erect tents and camp chairs with armrests;
- A self-inflating air mattress and stretcher bed;
- All eating utensils;
- Meals as per itinerary: B (breakfast), L (lunch), D (dinner);
- Campsite fees;
- Morning teas;
- All national park entrance fees;
- Travel permits as required.
“Tour leaders excellent, well-organised, well-informed. Good food.”