28 Jul 2021
Whether you camp, caravan or choose one of our 25 roomy cabins, you’re never far away from the Northern Territory’s most iconic landmarks when you stay with us at Discovery Parks - Glen Helen.
By staying with us at Discovery Parks - Glen Helen, you put yourself and your family at the heart of this magic - inside the West MacDonnell Ranges National Park. Known as ‘Tjoritja’ by the traditional owners, we are the only accommodation inside this sacred land, home to the West Aranda Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years.
Our on-site facilities are second to none at Discovery Parks - Glen Helen, and include a camp kitchen, laundry, bar/bistro and swimming pool. Our restaurant is open everyday for breakfast, lunch and dinner, serving a modern take on Australian fare using the best local ingredients. With terrace views of Glen Helen cliffs, it's the perfect spot to recount your days adventures.
Making the most of your stay
To help maximise your time here, we’ve put together a simple 3-day itinerary that showcases the beauty of Australia’s Red Centre. All of these features are easily reachable from our park and therefore do not include Kings Canyon or Uluru, which require more than a full day's travel.
It’s not essential to try and do everything within three days (we recommend a full week) but we understand that time is precious and there’s much to see and do. All three suggested daily itineraries use our park as a start/finish point and assume access to your own vehicle - this is the desert after all, and most landmarks are not within easy walking distance.*
Day 1. Alice Springs - Glen Helen
Because Darwin is a two day drive away, most visitors to Glen Helen arrive via Alice Springs. If you're flying in, you can pick up your own vehicle from Alice Springs airport and begin your discovery of the West MacDonnell Ranges immediately.
From Alice Springs, simply get onto Larapinta Drive (Highway 6) and continue west. This sealed road, which forms part of the Red Centre Way (also known as the Mereenie Loop), will take you past some of the most famous features of the region including Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm, Ellery Creek Big Hole, Serpentine Gorge and Ochre Pits. At 133 km, the drive alone can be achieved in 1.5 hours, but unless you've arrived at night, you'll be stopping along the way.
Because all of these locations are worthy of further exploration and link up to sections of the 231-kilometer Larapinta Walking Trail, it’s worth considering spending two or three days on this section of the park alone.
Day 2. Glen Helen & Ormiston Gorge
As two of the Territory’s most awe-inspiring and instagram-worthy destinations, it’s worth spending a full day slowly exploring each. However, if your time is limited it is possible to achieve both in a day given the proximity of both of them to our park.
A ten minute walk along the Finke River gets you to Glen Helen Gorge, believed by Aboriginal elders to be the birthplace of the powerful Rainbow Serpent. Pack a picnic, take a cooling dip and be mesmerised by its imposing sandstone walls and views of nearby Mount Sonder.
Just a short drive away from Glen Helen, Ormiston Gorge is not only another stunning waterhole, it’s a mecca for native flora and fauna. Worth considering is the Ormiston Pound Walk, which is a three to four hour trek across rocky slopes and the floor of the pound itself. An amazing experience you won’t want to end.
Day 3. Mount Sonder Lookout
As the fourth highest point in the West MacDonnell Ranges, the trail to the top of Mt. Sonder is a challenging 8 kilometer uphill walk. Best taken on in the early hours, the summit lookout is most spectacular at sunrise, offering a commanding view of the Finke River and the entire range below.
Marking the western end of the Larapinta Trail, this is one of the most popular bushwalks in central Australia - all just a short drive from our front door!
If you've managed to make it up Sonder in reasonable time, why not take your experience to the next level and consider a scenic flight?
If time and budget allows, there's no better way to see the entire 'West Mac' than via the skies above! There are a few ways to do this in the Northern Territory, and all of them offer a unique take on this incredibly beautiful landscape. Ask for a recommendation from our front office.
*Please see our FAQ section, which includes information on car hire, how to get here and what you should expect when you do.