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Delights of Summer at Glen Helen Homestead Lodge

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This Perentie shows little fear of humans as he strolls around the campground looking for a meal. They will feed on pretty well anything, so regularly patrol places where humans may have left some treats.

It is one of the special times of the year in Central Australia. Hot weather is the norm, and we have had some spells over 40 degrees C. But the atmosphere is very relaxed and evening drinks on the back verandah and swimming in the Glen Helen Gorge are the order of the day.

The swimming pool sparkles and suits those who really like to see the bottom of where they are swimming!

Guests arrive to a very quiet homestead and sometimes ask, ‘what on earth is it like, living out here all the time?’ They get shown to their Air Conditioned Motel room and gasp with pleasure at the coolness. We have time to chat in summer, to share our life experiences with our visitors from all parts of the world, learn about their lives and their current holiday. They cannot believe we are so happy and relaxed living somewhere so remote!

We often share the summer sports on the Television, sharing the Australian Open, and the International Cricket, and so on.

There are interesting reptiles around. Currently we have a medium sized Perentie hanging around, looking very regal and impressive at over 1 metre long. Stimsons Pythons show up and cooperate with some handling and display for visitors, many of whom have never touched any reptile in their lives.

We have some special functions, such as our Australia Day dinner, Valentines Dinner which are well supported by our local guests, whose repeated custom we appreciate so much.

But most days are just simple days of quiet customer service, relaxed atmosphere along with our great meals.

Most visitors come in the cooler months, but there is a special summer atmosphere that is worth the experience, so come soon and enjoy the great vibe!!

Winter in the West MacDonnell Ranges

While the rest of Australia enters it’s last month of a cold winter, out here at Glen Helen we are enjoying mild temperatures ideal for exploring many of the areas walking tracks.

With day time temperatures sitting nicely around the mid to high twenties, August is one of the best months to enjoy the area. Clear skies, dry tracks and lower tourist numbers mean you can get out and take in the best of the area, soak up a little sun and really see what it’s all about out here. But don’t be deceived by those inviting waterholes, swimming at this time of the year is reserved for the very very brave.

Our staff have been out exploring recently and are all ready to share their adventures with our guests

CIMG4524-300x225Glen Helen staff having fun at Simpsons Gap

998172_10151722888901351_268031319_n-225x300Several of the Glen Helen staff getting out and enjoying the great conditions at Ormiston Gorge

Coxy’s Big Break Visits Glen Helen

Over the years Glen Helen has attracted a lot of media attention due to it’s spectacular surroundings.

Just this week the crew from Coxy’s Big Break came out for a visit whiling filming a segment on the property that will go to air in October this year. Follow the link below to check for exact dates and what else Coxy has been up to.

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The Many Views of the Glen Helen Gorge

Given the long history of the area it is not surprising that many people from all over Australia have memories and attachments to the Glen Helen Gorge. Almost every day we hear the recollections of guests who had visited the area as children or saw pictures of the visits of family members as they grew up. I find their recollections of particular interest as I enjoy the challenge of trying to envision what they describe versus what I am currently surrounded by. Much like trying to picture the open spaces that eventually make way for the cities of the world, on occasion it can be difficult to picture the original Glen Helen experience when guests traveled to the area via rough dirt roads and set up camp right by the gorge. Occasionally though stories are not of how the area has changed but of how, in a changing world, The West MacDonnell Ranges have been able to remain the same. One such story was recently told by Bruce and Robin Kemp who visited Glen Helen in August. While in the area they were able to recreate the scene in a 1970’s Fraser Hay painting titled Pool in the Ormiston.

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The 1970’s Fraser Hay painting

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The photo recreation of the 1970’s painting by Fraser Hay

Glen Helen Gold Plate Award winner for the second year in a row

This time last year I had the pleasure of announcing that Glen Helen Homestead Lodge had won 2 golden plate awards and I am once again to announce that we have taken out the award for a second year running.

See below the news article and photograph of our head chef Mark Jones, courtesy of Barry Skipsey

“The Outback Resort wins another Gold Gong”
Picture & Words by: Barry Skipsey

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Nestled amongst the iconic Western Mac Donnell Ranges, you’ll find the award winning Namatjira Gallery Restaurant. Head Chef and proud recipient of another Gold Plate Award, Mark Jones is over the moon.

“Glen Helen Homestead Lodge has just won another Gold Plate for the Best Wayside Inn Dining”, he proudly announces.

Business members of the Australian Hotel Association are invited to enter the National, but State run awards. However, from there on, all assessment details are a closely guarded secret.

“There’s a six week judging period and they can come at anytime”, Mark said. “We have no idea who they are, when they came or what they ate”?

Busy promoting their business in China as part of an NT Tourism Trade Delegation, Resort Operators, Colin and Shelagh O’Brien asked Mark to attend the recent Gala night held in Darwin.

“Given that we picked up two awards last year, I was pretty relieved when my name was called out. I was feeling a little under pressure”, Mark said. “ The Judges say they weigh heavily on the food, but it’s also about the staff, the service and the ambiance”.

The restaurants popularity has steadily grown over the past fives years and the recent awards are a welcome testimony to the work put in by the small, dedicated team.

“It’s very reaffirming to know that last year wasn’t just a flash in the pan”,

Shelagh said. “And it’s really good that we’ve now won across three separate categories”.

Hearing of a job going in Central Australia on the cooking industry grape vine, Mark came over from Perth for a month long trial. “That was three years ago”, he said,

“I love it out here. Colin and Shelagh are very easy to work for and I get to walk to work and have three months holiday a year”.

Asked if he had a favorite signature dish? the outback chef replied, “Well we get big wraps on our Pork Belly and our International guests love the kangaroo”.

Conscious that locals vote with their feet and in the case of Glen Helen Homestead Lodge, drive some distance for the overnight dining experience, the outback restaurateurs won’t be resting on their laurels. Indeed, they have significant innovations planned for their menu and Mark is a man on a mission.

“We were in two categories again this year. They read out a big list of nominees for the Best Informal Dining”, he said. “We made the top three, but didn’t get the gong. So I’m pretty keen to win that one back again next year.”

Barry Skipsey

Great feedback and photohraphy from our recent visitors

We always enjoy hearing feedback from our visitors and recent visitors Paul & Jeanette had some very kind words to share and some spectacular photography as well

Just a quick e-mail to say how much we enjoyed our recent stay at Glen Helen, such a stunning location, friendly atmosphere, super service and great food – and accommodation, while as advised was basic, we found it
spotlessly clean and all we really needed was there for an overnight stop. The highlight was the Ormiston Gorge Helicopter flight, just jaw droppingly beautiful – I think the pilot thought our microphones weren’t working, when
in fact we were just speechless!

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The magic of scenery

While the beauty of Glen Helen and the West MacDonnell Ranges is often caught in photos or explained in words sometimes seeing it in motion is the best way to really understand the true wonder of the area.

The video below shows a Glen Helen visit from start to finish including music from some of our wonderful in house musicians, a meal in the restaurant and a stop at some of the most picturesque areas along the way.

Planning for The Larapinta Trail

With summer upon us a visit to The West MacDonnell Ranges is now more about swimming in the natural water holes than long treks on The Larapinta Trail however, now is the perfect time to plan ahead so that you are ready for the big walk when the cool weather returns. Whether you plan to walk just a few sections or the whole trail, planning is key to a successful visit, here are just a few things you will need to consider.

Getting Here: Most people fly into Alice Springs Airport then make their way out to the West Mac’s to begin the walk but when you are making travel plans don’t forget to allow for excess luggage which can be very costly.

Trail Transfers: Whether you choose to walk the traditional way from Alice Springs to Mt Sonder or in reverse, completing the walk in Alice Springs you will still require a transfer from one end to the other. Even the most adventurous would not want to walk back again. Glen Helen Homestead Lodge offers a range of transfers taking you all the way between Alice Springs and Mt Sonder, or just between various sections of the trail.

The Right Gear: If you are going to carry it, wear it and live off it for the full 12 sections, you better be sure you are comfortable with it! Getting the right gear means the difference between a great adventure or weeks of wishing you could go back home. Take your time to find the right equipment and consider all possible weather conditions, despite being in the desert, temperatures can drop to freezing overnight in winter and you don’t want to waste energy on keeping warm. Don’t forget to drop into The Lone Dingo in Alice Springs for any last minute purchases.

Health & Fitness: It goes without saying that if you are going to do the walk you want to be certain that you are healthy and fit enough to make it to the end. Get professional advice to create an effective training schedule and inform your doctor of your plans, he or she will likely have some useful suggestions.

Food & Water: It’s a strange thing being in the middle of nowhere and not being able to rely on your fridge or kitchen tap for food and water and the complete lack of supplies is normally what surprises inexperienced walkers the most. Plan your food and water supplies by ensuring you know the location of all suitable drinking water sources along the trail, carry purification tablets to help avoid sickness and arrange food drops along the way to lighten your load and ensure you stick to a rationing system. Don’t forget to add some extra treats to your food drops, your favorite snack will mean so much more when you are hungry and tired in the middle of nowhere.

Maps & Information: While you are walking a marked trail, it is essential to carry up to date maps and information to ensure you know what to expect from each section. The last thing you want is to find yourself doubling back several kilometers because you have realised you will never make the next campground before dark.

Memories: You’ve walked it, you feel amazing and you want everyone to know about it. You won’t have phone service for most of the walk but you can definitely fit in a small point and shoot camera to record your adventure. If there is any advice you should take it is never to get so caught up in the task of walking that you fail to take in everything that is around you, that is the real reason you are there.

Remember that planning is half the fun so take the time to get professional advice, do your research and get excited about your big adventure.

For any further information on food drops or transfers contact us at reception to see how we can help.

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With summer comes rain

I have noticed over time that some people have the perception that here in the desert we have only one temperature, Hot! Infact most people are surprised to find that in winter we can experience temperatures below freezing over night and in summer what was hot and dry can quickly become high rivers and closed roads. But a desert storm is something all should experience, how quickly the sky can turn black, the thunder can be heard from far away and the lightening can appear to be all around. But best of all is how fast and heavy the rain can fall.

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As the storm builds up today I thought I would share some photos taken during the 1988 floods which caused significant damage to the newly refurbished property at the time.