Outback Australia is known for reaching incredibly hot temperatures but there are some hidden gems to help cool you down. There’s no better way to spend the day than taking a refreshing dip in some of the most picturesque water holes near Alice Springs. The West MacDonnell Ranges are home to some of the most stunning water holes which are easily accessible. Here are our top 3 favourite Water Holes near Alice Springs for swimming.
Best Water Holes Near Alice Springs
Glen Helen Gorge
Glen Helen Gorge is very close to Ormiston Gorge, both being about a 1 hour and 45 minute drive from Alice Springs. The Gorge has one of the most picturesque water holes out of our three favourite. You’ll have to park the car at Glen Helen Lodge and walk along the track for about 10 minutes. On your way, you’ll be walking along the dry riverbed pebbles until you reach a clear opening. There is also a little bit of greenery which is such an incredible contrast against the red.
Once you reach the water hole, you’ll notice a massive gap in-between the two sandstone walls which makes way for the Finke River. There is water at this spot all year round and it’s the perfect spot to cool down. It’s also a popular spot for waterbirds and fish migrating during the summer. The water is clear and clean but the view is unbeatable. Glen Helen Gorge is our favourite water hole near Alice Springs for its views. The massive red sandstone wall sure is a sight to see.
Be sure to also check out Glen Helen Lodge for some food and beverage as well as snacks. They have a wide range of lunch and dinner options available which tasted delicious. If you’re interested, Glen Helen Lodge also hosts a variety of accommodation options. You can book a motel style room or you can stick to outback camping at their campground.
Ellery Creek Big Hole
Ellery Creek Big Hole is one of our all time favourite water holes near Alice Springs for swimming. The surrounding scenery is unbeatable and the water is incredibly clean and refreshing. 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. There is water here all year round so you can visit anytime of the year.
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. Swimming at any of the water holes near Alice Springs is best done in summer as the water is very cold. Be careful if you decide to jump off any rocks as there are submerged boulders and logs which can badly injure you.
At Ellery Creek, you’ll also find some shade shelters and picnic tables just before you reach the water hole. There are free gas BBQ’s available as well as tables for you to set up a nice lunch once your done swimming.
For more information about visiting Ellery Creek, be sure to read our full blog post here.
Ormiston Gorge is about a 1 hour and 45 minute drive from Alice Springs on an easy access road so all vehicles are fine. The Gorge best showcases the beauty and spectacular landforms of the surrounding ranges. Another 5 minute walk from the carpark will lead you to the water hole. Additionally, there is a 20-minute walk that will take you to Ghost Gum Lookout. The lookout point provides a stunning view of the outback scenery and you’ll be able to get a feel for the outback Aussie landscape.
This water hole is another great spot for swimming and relaxing as you’ll find some sand that surrounds the waters edge. You’ll also be able to find a few spots of shade underneath the trees to keep you out of the sun. The water at Ormiston Gorge isn’t as clear as Ellery Creek but it’s still just as refreshing. The water at the gorge is perfect for swimming in the summer months, although it can still be quite cold.
You’ll also be able to buy basic supplies, food and drinks from the commercial kiosk which is back at the carpark. If you’re looking to camp, you’ll be glad to know that there are showers, toilets and BBQ’s available. You can pay for camping at the site but there are limited spots available and they run on a first come, first serve basis.
Where to Stay
Alice Springs is the biggest and main town that is near the West MacDonnell Ranges. 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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