The first of our top ten Australian day walks, Ormiston Gorge is the highlight of  the Red Centre on two feet and a heart beat.

If  the Larapinta Trail has one glaring oversight it’s the scant regard it pays to Ormiston Gorge and Ormiston Pound. In a mountain range nicked and notched with gorges and chasms, Ormiston is arguably the most impressive, yet it’s the one the Larapinta ignores, which at least leaves it clear for those walkers who fancy just a short shot of West MacDonnells’ beauty.

The Pound Walk leaves from the Ormiston Gorge car park, climbing to a ridge-top lookout over Ormiston Pound, an unexpected circle of peaks amid the otherwise unbending lines of the West MacDonnell Ranges. Crossing the pound, the track funnels into Ormiston Gorge, wandering beneath rust-red cliffs topped with ghost gums like blond implants, and past permanent waterholes up to 14m deep.


Ormiston Gorge is 135km west of Alice Springs.

WHY //

It’s an accessible snapshot of all that’s good and impressive in the Red Centre. Think Albert Namatjira in situ: spinifex, ghost gums, dry creek beds and rocks as red as sunburn.


Midway through the gorge, beside a waterhole, turn uphill onto the Ghost Gum Walk, which climbs to the top of a bluff where a lone ghost gum overlooks the snaking crevice of the gorge.




There’s a gradual climb up to the lookout, and some ankle-turning rock hopping through the gorge entrance, but otherwise the walk is mostly flat and simple.


Parks & Wildlife Service Ormiston Gorge (08) 8956 7799, download an Ormiston Gorge fact sheet at

Australian Traveller Magazines Top 10 Day Walks You Can Do In A Day.


1. Ormiston Gorge & Pound, NT

2. Carnarvon Gorge, QLD

3. Flinders Chase Coast, SA

4. Razorback Ridge, VIC

5. Wineglass Bay Circuit, TAS

6. Cathedral Range, VIC

7. Bishop and Clerk Towers, TAS

8. Mt Townsend, NSW

9. Kangarutha Track, NSW

10. Bluff Knoll, WA


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