The Western Arrernte name for Ormiston is Kwartatuma (also spelt as Kwartetweme). The Dreaming story for the waterhole is about a group of Emus who came to the waterhole from the East, and the man who hunted them whilst they were there.
In the western part of the MacDonnell Ranges, located in the West MacDonnell National Park, is a ridge of mountains and ranges forming an area known as Ormiston Pound. Part of the Larapinta Trail, it is dominated by Mount Giles on the eastern boundary, and Ormiston Gorge forming the western boundary. Those planning to trek the Ormiston Pound circuit, will see sensational views of the Chewings Range and Mount Giles.
The popular tourist attraction of Ormiston Gorge is a a near-permanent waterhole, that showcases the spectacular geology and landforms of the region. When full, the waterhole is estimated to be up to 14 metres deep at its southern end.
The Finke River passes Ormiston Gorge in the west and during times of rain, water can be seen in the river from the Mount Sonder Lookout.
For those lucky to visit during periods of good rainfall, the spectacular gorge and surrounds are a sight to behold and experience.
With relic plant species harking back to a distant tropical past, the park and region is home to the Long-tailed Dunnart and the Central Rock Rat.
Located only 135 km west of Alice Springs along the Larapinta and Namatjira Drives, the gorge is accessible to coach tours and 4WD. Glen Helen Resort is only 8 km away.
Check out the NT government parks and reserve website for more info and maps: Ormiston Gorge: Tjoritja / West MacDonnell National Park.
Activities in this part of the national park include swimming (when there is water) and a number of walking tracks.
- Swimming – The Gorge has a near-permanent waterhole. Swimmers should note that most water holes are extremely cold, and prolonged exposure, even during summer can result in hypothermia. Swimmer should also be aware of submerged logs and rocks.
- Walking – There are a number of marked walking tracks including the
- Waterhole Walk (5 minutes), with wheelchair access to the end of the paved path.
- Ghost Gum Lookout Walk (20 minutes).
The Ghost Gum Walk now features a recently completed viewing platform, that juts out from one wall, enabling spectacular views of the gorge and the river red gums below.
- Ormiston Pound Walk (3-4 hours), this is a circuit walk from the Visitor Centre, meandering around scenic slopes, dropping into the flat expanse of the Pound and returning along Ormiston Gorge via the main waterhole
- Larapinta Trail, this famed walk passes through area (contact the Parks and Wildlife Regional Office or the Ormiston Gorge Visitor Centre for details).