Standley Chasm is located approximately 50 km by sealed road west of Alice
Springs. The chasm has been gouged from the tough sandstone by the floods that,
over untold millions of years, have surged down a narrow tributary of the
Finke River system. The result is a deep red cleft, with slopes on either
side rising 80 metres above the chasm floor.
The Chasm is at its most dramatic
an hour either side of noon on a sunny day. At noon the desert sun is perfectly
aligned, drenching Standley Chasm in a shower of brilliant red light, creating a
breath-taking display of sheer rock face glowing from the reflected sunlight.
Walking along the track that links the carpark to the Chasm, you are
following a creek where spring-fed pools attract a great variety of wildlife,
especially birds. It is thanks to the water that the gully floor is lush with
plants that range from delicate ferns to tall gums; including many other species
such as the cycad palm that have survived here from a long-gone era that was
much wetter. This 20 minute walk (one-way) is quite easy, but it is recommended
that you wear sensible shoes.
Standley Chasm is located in a private flora and fauna reserve owned by the
Iwupataka Land Trust. All native plants and animals are protected. Do not pat
Called Angkerle by the Aborigines, the Chasm's European name honours Mrs Ida
Standley who in 1914, became the first school teacher in Alice Springs. In 1925,
the school for children of Aboriginal descent was moved from Alice Springs to
Jay Creek (Iwupataka) with Mrs Standley as matron. It was during her time at Jay
Ceeek that she became the first non-Aboriginal women to visit the feature that
now bears her name.