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Palm Valley in the Finke Gorge National Park
The narrow gorge of Palm Valley, is home to the Red Cabbage Palm (Livistona mariae), remnants of a tropical rainforest that once covered this region some 60 million years ago. Today, there exists some 12,000 palms, with the oldest being 300 years old, providing a unique attraction in the heart of the arid centre of Central Australia.

Located within the Finke Gorge National Park the average rainfall for Palm Valley is only 200 mm per year. There exists some small pockets of semi-permanent spring-fed pools, with some spots seeming to ooze water up through cracks in the rock.

A recent article on the ABC report that the Hydrogeologist John Wischusenhas has written a PhD thesis, about how the palms might have survived through the extreme temperatures of prehistoric times because of very old ground water, and that they continue to tap into this 300,000 year old water. This water is moving slowly enough through the underlying Hermannsburg sandstone that could probably sustain the palm population for hundreds of thousands of years without any further rainfall1,2.

Normally a dry arid region, some visitors are lucky to be there during a wet period, where a wonderful sight present itself of expanses of water, maybe even water flowing through the valley gorge. Such event also provide the opportunity for visitors to witness a variety of aquatic life such as desert fish, shield shrimps (Triops australiensis), tadpoles and frogs.

Palm Valley in the Finke Gorge National Park - Snapshots from Australia

Water continue to flow through Palm Valley © Greg Sully, 2010
Water continue to flow through Palm Valley, after the considerable rainfall in the region in early 2010.
View from lookout across Finke Gorge National Park © Greg Sully, 2010
View from lookout across Finke Gorge National Park, with Palm Valley off camera to the left.
Photos © Greg Sully

1 300,000 yr-old water sustains desert palm trees, (Thursday, May 17, 2007). ABC News Online. Retrieved Thursday, May 17, 2007. 7:36 am (AEST) from
2 Natural Resources, Environment and the Arts - Palm Valley Spring - Hydrogeology
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