MacDonnell Ranges – Definitely Not the Golden Arches!

“The Loneliest Pub in the Scrub” – Arltunga Ghost Town – MacDonnell Ranges
DATE – Too many flies to care!

Back safe and sound in Alice Springs, we decided to explore the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges for a day. These ranges are the longest of the ridge systems that make up the Centre’s landscape, sweeping east to west for 400 km. Full of mind-boggling formations and sites, the ruggedness and grandeur of them was immensely appealing. Scattered along its entire length are deep gorges carved by ancient rivers that flowed south into the Simpson Desert. We targeted Arltunga, a ghost town and home of “The loneliest pub in the scrub” as our afternoon goal, however, many magnificent Gorges and Gaps lay between us and our final destination.

Although arid, the ranges are covered with a huge variety of plants, wildlife, and spectacular sights. Our first stop was Emily Gap, the start of the Caterpillar Dreaming trail. There were some cool striped Aboriginal rock paintings on the far side of a soupy pool of putrid-greenish water. We pitied the caterpillars who started their merry trails from here! We found out later that it was the weekend home of local hoods and that there was often ‘trouble’ there. Traveller beware! Irksome flies hurriedly pushed us on to Jessie Gap- another place similar to Emily Gap, and equally dry and fly-ridden.

Corroboree Rock, the next tourist site along the road, was an unusual dog-toothed limestone outcrop with a window at the top of the rock that was much fun to crawl and squeeze through to the other side.
It was once a repository for sacred stones which added to the mystique of the whole area, but was no longer in use, thanks again to the neighbourhood “hoods”.

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