Ellery Creek Big Hole is one of the most popular waterholes near Alice Springs for a swim. The massive red cliffs, sandy shores and clean water are the perfect backdrop for an incredible picnic or campsite. There is water at Ellery Creek Big Hole all year round and it’s deep enough to enjoy a refreshing swim.
How to get to Ellery Creek Big Hole
Alice Springs is the closest main town and is where you’ll most likely be coming from. Ellery Creek Big Hole is located in the West MacDonnel National Park. It’s roughly a 1 hour drive from Alice Springs. The easiest and only way to get there is by car. There are plenty of car hire options available at Alice Springs airport. Once you get close to Ellery Creek Big Hole, the road turns to gravel. It’s a little bumpy but all vehicles will be fine.
Entry into the national park and Ellery Creek is free. However, fees apply if you’re looking to camp. Camping costs $6.60 AUD per adult and $3.30 AUD per child. There are camping facilities available for tents, trailers and caravans. There’s also gas barbecues and toilets available. Camping spots are limited and it can sometimes get busy so be sure to get there early or on a weekday to secure a spot.
What to Expect
A short 5 minute walk from the carpark will take you to the beautiful waterhole set amongst the red gorge. Straight away you’ll notice the sand that surrounds the water, almost making it feel like a beach. Ellery Creek Big Hole is the perfect spot to set up a picnic and enjoy a refreshing dip in the clear water. The waterhole is fairly large and can get quite deep if you swim a little further out. Be careful if you decide to jump off the rocks as there are submerged boulders and logs which can badly injure you.
There’s not a whole lot of shade in the area so during summer you’ll be exposed to the extreme heat. You’ll find some shade shelters and picnic tables just before you reach the water hole. There are also free BBQ’s and tables for you to set up a nice lunch once your done swimming.
If you’re not interested in swimming, there are also plenty of walks nearby which may interest you. The Dolomite Walk is a 3km loop which will take about 1.5 hours. It’s a great walk to see more of the incredibly unique landscape. For those more keen on walking, you can check out sections 6 & 7 of the Larapinta Trail. They’re a lot more strenuous and should only be attempted by people with bushwalking experience
When to Visit
Ellery Creek Big Hole is accessible all year round. The swimming hole always has water in it, no matter the month. However, in the cooler months, the water can be incredibly cold! The cooler months (April – October) are more pleasant for walking and camping.
Where to Stay
As we mentioned earlier, Alice Springs is going to be your closest town for everything. You’ll find plenty of accommodation options, petrol stations and supermarkets to fill up on groceries. Accommodation in Alice Springs hosts a variety of options from hostels, budget motels as well as beautiful resorts.
Crowne Plaza Alice Springs Lasseters – Best value for money: We stayed at the Crowne Plaza in Alice Springs and found it to be great value for money. There is a large pool area and plenty of entertainment options, including a Casino! There are also great dining options and the breakfast is delicious. The rooms are comfy and we had a beautiful view of the ranges from our balcony. We definitely recommend Crowne Plaza is you’re looking for a comfortable place to stay in Alice Springs.
DoubleTree by Hilton – Luxury: This beautiful luxury resort is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the beautiful view of the surrounding ranges. The property features a large outdoor pool, sauna and also tennis courts. The onsite 5 star restaurant and bar offers delicious dining options. The staff are also incredibly lovely and are always happy to assist.
Alice Lodge Backpackers – Budget: Alice Lodge Backpackers is perfect for those travellers looking for a hostel environment where they can meet other people. It’s also only a 10 minute walk to the centre of town. The hostel features Wi-fi, a swimming pool and large outdoor area to chill. You’ll also be able to book various day tours and trips from the hostel reception desk.
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