Or­mis­ton Pound Cir­cuit

Australian Geographic Outdoor - - 6 Of The Best - Info: www.nt.gov.au/parks When to go: May-September Grade: Mod­er­ate

ONE OF THE AG Out­door team’s all-time favourite Aussie day hikes, the three-four hour Or­mis­ton Pound Cir­cuit is a mi­cro­cosm of its nearby (and much longer) sib­ling, the fa­mous Lara­p­inta Trail. Or­mis­ton Pound is 135km west of Alice Springs, in the West MacDon­nell Ranges, reached via a sealed road. There is also a camp­ground (in­clud­ing toi­lets) here, and the in­for­ma­tion boards and track sig­nage are top notch.

This day walk re­ally has ev­ery­thing, from cool, shaded gorges with tow­er­ing red rock cliffs loom­ing on ei­ther side, through to the in­cred­i­ble pound it­self, with its lu­nar-es­que land­scape. Com­bine these with rocky sec­tions of the track that house a sur­pris­ing amount of na­tive fauna, and some fan­tas­tic high view­points, and you have a knock­out one-day hike that is ideal for most age groups (kids from around nine years of age up could com­plete this walk eas­ily).

The Cir­cuit can be walked in ei­ther di­rec­tion, but we’d highly rec­om­mend walk­ing it anti-clock­wise, start­ing from the carpark. Tack­ling the walk this way means the land­scape and scenery build up to the awe­some fin­ish of walk­ing (or wad­ing/swim­ming) through Or­mis­ton Gorge it­self.

The land is the big at­trac­tion here; as you make your way around the cir­cuit you move through dif­fer­ent ge­o­log­i­cal zones (lime­stone, quartzite, gran­ite) and the re­sul­tant veg­e­ta­tion (or lack of) is unique to each sec­tion. The views at the high ridge just be­fore you drop into the pound give you some sense of scale to the area. Walk­ing across the floor of the pound it­self is like walk­ing across the sur­face of Mars, with the odd gnarled gum tree, (usu­ally) dry creek beds, the oc­ca­sional wedge-tailed ea­gle, and that sense of vast open space that only the out­back can of­fer.

This vast­ness makes the ac­tual en­trance into Or­mis­ton Gorge it­self even more of a con­trast; it is like step­ping foot into a dif­fer­ent, but equally an­cient, world. Here, shaded by the im­mense cliffs where ghost gums cling pre­car­i­ously to the walls, the wa­ter­holes are like mirrors. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a dingo or wal­laby (or one of the NT’s myr­iad bird species) drink­ing from these wa­ter­holes as you move deeper into the gorge. If it is warm enough, make sure you pack some swim­mers as you can even go for a cel­e­bra­tory dip in the main wa­ter­hole back near the camp­ground – a great way to fin­ish the day’s walk­ing.

This walk has ev­ery­thing, from cool, shaded gorges with tow­er­ing red rock cliffs, to the pound’s lu­nar-es­que land­scape.

Paus­ing for breath af­ter the climb up to the Or­mis­ton Pound Walk’s high point, look­ing over the wide ex­panse of the pound be­low.

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