Ellery Creek Big Hole is a gorge located just an hour from Alice Springs in the West MacDonnell Ranges. Over thousands of years, this gorge was created due to flooding and is now a popular spot for tourists and locals to visit especially during the summer months.
This site is sacred to the Aboriginal people from the area and is part of their Dreamtime story about Honey Ant Dreaming and Fish Dreaming. What I love about this spot is that it is never too busy due to it’s far out location. There are always plenty of spots to relax and sunbathe whilst admiring this beautiful ancient rock formation.
Ellery Creek is a beautiful spot for a summer picnic and a swim, the water area is large all year round. Something unusual about this waterhole is the temperature of the water, people have ended up with hypothermia from swimming in Ellery Creek, which can be deadly (one teacher died by drowning, due to a bad cramp). It’s that kind of breathtaking cold that takes you a few minutes to adjust to, not really my idea of a relaxing swim! There are rumors that Ellery Creek is bottomless however I have seen various reports claiming it is anywhere from 9m to 27m deep. Due to the lack of direct sunlight and currents in the water, it remains freezing all year round.
Even so, it still has a thriving aquatic life and is also a great spot for birdwatching, if there aren’t too many people splashing around. You may even see a Dingo or a crocodile if you are lucky! In 2014 a crocodile was spotted at Ellery Creek which was reported by the NT News (where I used to work) as having been left there by someone as this area in not their natural habitat. The gorge is part of the Finke River system which is the oldest river in the world.
What to Bring
➸ An esky with heaps of cold drinks and a picnic
➸ Plenty of Sunscreen
➸ A warm towel for after swimming
➸ A full tank of fuel
➸ Due to this being a national park, pets are not allowed.
You will need to travel by car, 2WD is sufficient although it should be noted that 2km of the road is unsealed. Travel west from Alice Springs along Larapinta Drive for 50 km until you reach the intersection with Namatjira Drive. Turn right onto Namatjira Drive and head west for 65 km until you see the gorge. Remember it is best to leave before dusk to avoid any wildlife on the roads.
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