Finke Gorge NP
FOR A FANTASTIC outback touring adventure that offers the convenience of not being too far from a major population centre, but also that lusted-after remote camping experience, a long weekend driving, camping in and exploring this national park is hard to beat. Finke Gorge NP is named after the eons-old river that flows (sometimes) through it, and its 460km² contains a mix of terrain and vegetation, including the red cabbage palm tree, found in the park’s aptly named Palm Valley. For this long weekend escape, this famous destination doubles as the first night’s camp, with the excellent campground having toilets, water, fireplaces and an information booth. It is also the start-point for some walks: the Mpulungkinya (5km) and Arankaia (2km) walks, as well as the 45-min track up Kalarranga Lookout.
From here, the remote desert adventure really begins; continuing south along the Finke River 4WD Route (be advised this is a very remote route, so be well prepared and have a satphone or EPIRB) will see you traverse everything from kilometres of dry sandy riverbed to waterholes and water crossings, while passing old homesteads and police station ruins. This park is incredibly scenic; as you drive along the sandy floor of the gorge the ancient waterway has cut into the landscape, the towering river red gums and sheer red-rock cliffs loom high above. Boggy Hole is a popular campsite for your second night and it is another contrast; rich lush green reeds surround this immense waterhole, with contrasting red cliff faces on the opposite banks to the campsite. The best part of this adventure is that you can camp where you like – bush camping is allowed.
There are plenty of opportunities for young adventurers; this writer’s daughter spent hours exploring the surrounds of our camp each evening, plus helped gather firewood or chased frogs in small waterholes. The last day of the journey sees rich-red sand dunes traversed as you continue toward the park’s southern boundary. A side trip here is Illamurta Springs Conservation Reserve. It has a permanent spring and old police station ruins. From here, you rejoin the Finke River 4WD Route and continue south to Ernest Giles Road for the return to Alice. Not a bad long weekend escape.
As you drive along the sandy floor of the gorge the ancient waterway has cut into the land… sheer red-rock cliffs loom high above
The Finke Gorge NP long weekend will have you camping in the desert one minute, then crossing waterways the next.