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The Ormiston Pound walk

Recommended as one of the must see walking tracks in the West MacDonnell Ranges, the Ormiston Pound walk is a 3-4 hour loop starting at the Visitor Centre, through the pound and back via the waterhole at Ormiston Gorge.

The area is particularly good for spotting dingoes, rock wallaby’s, a number of water bird species and, looking up you might even spot a Wedged Tailed Eagle, Australia’s largest flying bird.

As always, it is very important to carry ample water for the walk and, due to a lack of shade, adequate sun protection is a must. Often throughout the year section of the track can be flooded so occasionally it is necessary to wade through the water. Always check the information boards, or with the reception staff at Glen Helen Homestead Lodge for the most up to date information on the track.

Just this week some of our staff braved the heat to experience the pound walk and have kindly offered their images below.






Merry Christmas from Glen Helen Homestead Lodge

Well, inevitably, it is that time again.

Shelagh and Collin along with all of the staff at Glen Helen Homestead Lodge would like to thank all of our visitors, and friends for their support over the year and wish you all a very merry Christmas and a safe and happy start to 2014.


The staff at Glen Helen getting into the festive spirit

Continuing your Red Centre experience

One you have explored the best of the West MacDonnell Ranges you might choose to continue on to Kings Canyon via the Mereenie Looop Road. This scenic journey covers 225kilometres from Glen Helen Homestead Lodge to Kings Canyon Resort passing nearby Hermannsburg and the Finke Gorge National Park, better known as Palm Valley.

This journey is well worth your time if you have it but, as with all adventures, requires just a little planning before you get started.


Things to know

Approximately 93km of the Mereenie Loop road passes through Aboriginal land and as such a permit is required before travel. You can purchase the permit at Glen Helen reception for $5.50, the keepsake document includes a map of the journey, a guide on what to see as you go and a brief history of the area. Not holding a permit before travel can result in a fine.

The majority of the journey is on an unsealed road which is normally very heavily corrugated. Because of this the road is recommended for 4WD vehicles only however it is not uncommon to see smaller vehicles travelling this way as well. The most important thing here is to check the road conditions before travelling, take care when driving on unsealed roads and do not be deceived by the relatively short distance, depending on the condition of the journey can take half a day or more.

If, like many visitors to the area, you are travelling in a rented vehicle, pay special attention to the fine print of your contract. It is very common that 2WD vehicles will not be covered by insurance if they are taken onto unsealed roads.

Things to do

All too often visitors to this part of the world are in such a hurry to see everything that they miss most of what makes the area so impressive. Slow down a little, pack a picnic and take in the sites as you go.

Redbank Gorge – if you didnt already take the time to visit Redbank you will be passing it just 25km’s on from Glen Helen. Get up early for the journey and stop in for the short walk down the river bed to the gorge. Take in this impressive site in the morning air and if you are lucky you will spot some rock wallaby’s down by the water.


Gosse Bluff – believed to be the remnants of an impact crater, Gosse Bluff is a culturally significant location just 45km on from Glen Helen. Take in the view from the lookout on the way to take in the size f the ancient crater then, time permitting, stop in at the site where you can take a short walk around the area. Toilets and picnic areas are provided but please show respect for the area by sticking to the designated tracks and taking any rubbish with you.



Palm Valley – If you are travelling in a 4WD and are equipped for camping then make the stop at Palm Valley in the Finke Gorge National Park. This impressive area has a campground complete with toilets, hot showers, gas BBQ’s and did I mention the scenery??? A range of walking tracks from 20 minutes through to 2 hours take you around the park where you can view the impressive Red Cabbage Palm, a species only found in this area.

Wildlife Spotting – along the way be sure to look out for the wildlife, it is very common to see camels, brumbies, dinkeys, and the occasional kangaroo in the area plus an assortment of lizards and bird life

Of course, there is always plenty more to know before setting off on the journey, stop by the reception and talk to our friendly staff who can fill you in on the latest road conditions and all of the best places to see along the way.

NYE roundup

Our Rio Carnivale themed New Years Eve was a great success

Fireworks, costumes and an outback BBQ, what a great way to welcome 2014.

Keep an eye on our blog for this years theme and other events throughout the year.



A working holiday at Glen Helen – the real experience

Glen Helen Homestead Lodge has always attracted staff from around the world, and with so much to offer who wouldn’t want to spend a few months working in paradise?

One of our staff members has shared her experience, in her own words, after working at Glen Helen in 2013, maybe it will inspire other workers and visitors to travel into the red centre.




Paris, France

My experience working at Glen Helen was one of the most rewarding and exceptionnelle along my year spending in Australia!

I’ve been working in the resort during Chrismas and New Year Eve, what can be more atypique and memorable to be in the middle of the Red Desert during this time!

Our team of workers was very mixte, people from all around the world and Australia joined together to learn and offer the best quality of service. Our managers Sheilagh and Colin are the most respectables people to take this challenge to run this hotel and train their team always with the same dynamic, motivation and patience !

Everybody working in this surrounding feels inspired, disciplined and energised!

By working at Glen Heln, I could have learn a lot about myself and my professionnal skills.

Being the only french employee was quite nice when the french guests checked in, it was always a pleasure to speak in my nativ language!

I learnt the diversity of the different hospitality job ( reception, bar, restaurant), I discovered all the different aspects of those fonctions, and now I can confirm my capacity for exercing each of them!

My first weeks working have been the most challenging, when everything need to be learnt, when I gained confidence and made a lot of progess with english language!

Be a member of G.H. it’s make proof of initiativ, be volonteer and have a sense of humour too!

It was a pleasure each time to receive and serve the customers, talking about me and sharing our experience of travelling in this area. The homestead exudes a warmy atmoshere, specially chating and metting people , from locals to foreigners around some beers and some music.

The restaurant was also a cosy place to work, and a delight for the customers to discover the bush tradionnal food in the menu ( for the meat lovers) kangoroos, emus, camels and crocodiles.

To relax, and cool down , the Glen Helen gorges arehere for a safe swimm between the two red cliffs. There is also a lovely swimming pool with a breathtaking view near the rooms. For more adventures, go foor a walk discovering the wildlife of the area or go for an helicopter ride which will reveal to you another dimension of the West Mc donnell Ranges !

Working in Glen Helen made my dream come true, I’ve seen Uluru and dicover the arboriginal culture and history. Also Kings canyon , the Olgas, Palm Valley and the historic village of Hermannsburg are the places to see !

he Red Desert is terrific and his spectacular landscape changes along the day with the light of the sun. This area is unique and Glen Helen Homestead Lodge is definitly the place to stay for a simple, relax but always friendly atmoshpere and living your outback experience!

Soizic worked at Glen Helen Homestead Lodge from Mid November 2009 to the end of January 2010

Mon expérience en travaillant à Glen Helen Homestead Lodge a été l’une des plus enrichissante et exceptionnelle durant mon année passée en Australie !

J’ai travaillé dans cet hôtel pendant la période de Noël et jour de l’an, quoi de plus atypique et mémorable de se retrouver au milieu du désert rouge australien à cette période !

Notre équipe de travail était très variée, des gens de du monde entier et d’Australie réunis pour apprendre et offrir la meilleure qualité de service. Nos managers, Sheilagh and Colin ont monté ce challenge avec brio, on leur doit le respect ! A tout moment ils forment leur équipe avec motivation et patience.

Tous ceux qui travaillent dans ce cadre se sentent impliqués, disciplinés et pleins d’énergies !

Travailler à Glen Helen, m’a permis d’apprendre énormément sur moi-même et mes compétences professionnelles. Le fait d’être aussi la seule employée française a été plutôt agréable lors de l’accueil de nos clients français à la réception, toujours un plaisir de pouvoir communiquer dans sa langue natale !

Travailler à Glen Helen vous apprend une polyvalence de métiers de l’hôtellerie, (réception, bar et restaurant, j’ai découvert toutes les facettes de ces postes et peux aujourd’hui affirmer mes capacités de pouvoir exercer chacun d’entre eux.

Les premières semaines ont été les plus stimulantes, où il faut tout apprendre en même temps mais aussi prendre de l’assurance et faire des progrès considérables avec la langue anglaise !

Etre membre de l’équipe de travail à Glen Helen c’est faire preuve d’initiative, de volonté et aussi d’humour J

C’est toujours avec plaisir que j’ai accueilli et servi les clients, et aimé parler de mon expérience de voyage dans cette région. La salle d’accueil et le bar, dégage une ambiance chaleureuse, où l’on rencontre et discute avec la clientèle, des locaux ou touristes étrangers, tout cela autour d’une bière accompagnée de musique.

La salle du restaurant est tout aussi confortable et agréable ! Un délice pour les clients qui y découvrent la cuisine traditionnelle du « bush ». Pour les amoureux de viandes, steak de kangourous ou encore émeus, chameaux et crocodiles sont sur le menu !

Pour se détendre et se rafraichir, les gorges de Glen Helen vous garantissent une baignade sans danger entre deux magnifiques falaises !

L’hôtel possède également une charmante piscine près des chambres avec une vue imprenable !

Pour plus d’aventures, partez en ballade découvrir la faune et la flore de cette région ou offrez vous un tour d’hélicoptère qui vous révèlera une autre dimension des montagnes Mc Donald et du désert !

Le fait d’avoir travailler à G.H a aussi rendu mon rêve réalité, J’ai pu voir Uluru et y découvrir son histoire et sa culture aborigène. Kings Canyon, les Olgas, Palm Valley, le village historique d’Hermmansburg sont aussi des lieux à ne pas manquer !

Le désert australien est sensationnel, son paysage spectaculaire. Celui-ci change au long de la journée avec la lumière du soleil. Cette région est unique et GH Homestead Lodge est définitivement l’endroit où votre séjour reflètera la simplicité et la détente, mais toujours dans une ambiance accueillante ! Vivre à Glen Helen c’est vivre une réelle expérience de l »out back »

“An oasis in the middle of nowhere” A staff testimonial

Glen Helen: an Oasis in the middle of nowhere (October-November 2009)


Hi! My name is Simone Natali Tanci and I spent a year in Australia with a working holiday visa.

Before leaving my country I planned my stay a little bit but once there everything changed.

What didn’t change was the desire and willing to experience the real Australian life, particularly living and working in the bush.

As everyone can do, I surf on the web trying to find some information and, why not, a place to stay; after searching for a while I found out some videos and reviews of Glen Helen Homestead Lodge and I said “That’s perfect!!” I immediately decided to send an email and in a couple of days arranged my trip.

When I landed at Alice Springs airport the atmosphere was so strange: it seemed to be in a farm and around there was nothing!! For those coming from and always living in big cities the impact with this environment might be tough at first glance but, once you get used to it, it’s hard to get back.

At the airport I met my manager and a musician (very kind persons!!) and together we head straight to the resort.

Our way to Glen Helen was simply stunning and since the beginning I enjoyed my experience because the fact that everything is different does not mean that is not good.

We drove for more than 100 km and I’ve never seen anything like that in my life, or better, I’ve just seen it on TV: red sand, dry trees, gorges, rocks and nothing else but a quiet place!

Once arrived at the resort I received a warm welcome from my colleagues and understood immediately the kind of life they live there, that has nothing to do with life in big cities.

The resort was a good place to stay, above all if you want to escape the stress, and was surrounded by a wonderful gorge; it happened several times to go there after work and have a bath. Otherwise we had a small and gorgeous swimming pool to escape the hot weather: in fact we had an average of 35, 38 degrees Celsius everyday and rain was a rare option!

Besides this negative aspect (not for me), it was such a great experience: we were like a big family; we live, work and eat together, sharing our opinions. We arranged BBQ nights many times, we enjoyed the live music drinking cool beers and good Australian wines at the bar and the dining room. Sometimes we spent evenings outside relaxing and watching stars in the sky!

The landscape around was something it’s worth seeing and allows me to do things that I’ve never done in my life like driving in the desert and flying with a helicopter. We shared the territory not with human beings but with animals and often made encounters with them, mostly birds but sometimes snakes. And I even enjoyed the sunrise and sunset, such a beautiful thing!

Concerning my job it was a multitasking position so that you can learn everything about the resort; sometimes I was at the bar, sometimes at the restaurant. And it was a nice place not only to learn but also to talk with people. It occurred many times to have long conversations with guests: actually, they were very tired, hungry and thirsty when they arrived but friendly and not stressed at all; in fact, stress could never survive in this place!

And It even occurred to meet them again in other cities! That was very funny….but not strange because I was a traveller, too.

I definitely come back to Glen Helen, should I have the possibility: you meet new friends, you make wonderful experiences but above all you enjoy your life….and if you’re a working traveller like me you could even save some money for next trip around Australia.

Glen Helen note:

Simone whose home is Rome, Italy, worked at Glen Helen Homestead Lodge October /November 2009. He was one of many travellers from Europe who visit and work in Central Australia as part of the WORKING HOLIDAY VISA programme.

Summer Rain in the West Mac’s

It’s that time of year when we’ve had just the right amount of rain to get the Ormiston Creek flowing across the road and into the Finke River. Although this part of Australia isn’t considered part of the tropical wet and dry season we do receive considerably more rain during summer which comes as welcome relief to the heat. Those who have visited during the winter months are always surprised by the difference in the landscape that the summer rain creates. Despite common misconceptions, a visit to Central Australia is rewarding any time of the year.


The music returns to Glen Helen

Well it’s been a long, hot (and wet) summer here in Central Australia and I can hardly believe how quickly April has come around. As things begin to wind up for the busy season so comes the return of our in house musicians. This year we welcome back some regular voices and add a few new local musicians into the mix. Keep an eye on in house performances page for the full calendar as it becomes available.

This Friday sees the first night of music for the year with King Marong and Bec Matthews. If you are not already familiar with their work check out their biographies below and book a table for dinner or a room tonight and catch the performances, this weekend playing Friday 4th April 2014 through to Sunday 6th April 2014. Performances start at 7:30pm in the homestead and finish up around 9:30pm.




Gambian Master Percussionist, Singer, Composer, Teacher and Cultural Ambassador.

Born in The Gambia West Africa, King has been performing professionally since the age of 12. King developed his skills in the coastal fishing village where he grew up surrounded by the griots (hereditary musicians) and international musicians who were his mentors for Senegambian drumming and cultural priorities. In his late teens he formed his band Kunta Kinteh and consequently toured The Gambia, Senegal, UK and Europe. King has since built an international reputation as a master of many African drumming styles on instruments such as the Djembe, Boucarabou, Doundoun and Sabar, performing and teaching percussion to students from around the world.

“People in my classes speak many different languages but they all come together through drumming.”

Since arriving in Australia, King has developed a reputation as being a sensitive versatile and dynamic performer. He has worked extensively with local West African, Australian and international artists to introduce the complex and powerful drumming rhythms, melodic kora music and vivid dance style of his culture to Australia. His involvement in many collaborative projects has enabled him to work with both local and international musicians across all genres of music from classical to electronic and the world of styles in between.

King has several Melbourne based ensembles which range from the high energy and visually dynamic traditional percussion and dance rhythms of Safara to the sleek and sophisticated ‘afrobeat-jazz-reggae-fusion’ of his band Afro Mandinko. For this project King has been collaborating with some of Melbourne’s premier musicians, playing and arranging the traditional songs of the Gambia and Senegal with a contemporary big band feel. His most recent collaboration with fellow West African Lamine Sonko One Africa brings you everything from melodic guitar and vocals to explosive and engaging percussion and dance in their interactive show.



Singer, songwriter, composer, musician

From her early beginnings as a classical pianist, Bec Matthews has travelled a diverse and cosmopolitan musical path which has lead to her current status as one of Australia’s most talented and charming players of the kora (21 string West African Harp). Bec’s musical repertoire also includes the kamelngoni (West African hunter’s harp) and bolong (African gourd bass) along with trumpet, guitar, assorted percussion and voice. As an artist who crosses musical and cultural boundaries, Bec fuses her own original music with influences from traditional West African, Middle Eastern and World Fusion music. Her original songs and music reflect Bec’s personal journey and worldview, echoing her extensive studies with West African musical masters and travels through remote Australia and elsewhere.

Working closely with Gambian artist King Marong, Bec has been a dynamic and pivotal member of the Melbourne-based ‘Safara Music School’ which enjoys a reputation for its uplifting and community-minded spirit. As a part of this project Bec has been involved in numerous exciting collaborations incorporating art and music, including drum making, drumming and dance, African story telling and interactive performance.

Having managed and performed for 9 years with afrobeat masters “Afro Mandinko” a 10 piece afro-fusion band, Bec has performed and workshopped at numerous Australian festivals including Woodford Folk Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival, AWME, WOMADelaide, Brisbane International Festival, Perth International Festival, Meredith Music Festival, Falls Festival and the Warrnambool Children’s Festival to name a few. No stranger to international stages, Bec has performed and conducted workshops in Canada and the UK, and has also enjoyed several musical residencies in The Gambia, West Africa.

Bec’s graceful talents on and understanding of the kora and at least 3 other traditional West African instruments have been nurtured by great masters and troupes such as the Guinean cultural drum and dance ensemble ‘Fatala’, Bamako based kamelngoni master Adama Sidube and the BBC world music award nominee Juldeh Camara. In 2007 Bec enjoyed a 6 month residency playing trumpet with Gambian based pan-African band “Lolo Lulu” (5 Star Band), on many occasions playing for the President of the Gambia.

“Bec Matthews is a charming entertainer, captivating her audience with her very personal and intimate performance where she talked the audience through her stunning collection of koras and their beautiful ‘other-worldly’ sounds while playing delicate melodies interspersed with sparkling runs. Bec also displayed her skills on guitar and trumpet, layering harmonies in loops as she played a unique and eclectic mix of traditional African and her own contemporary material with a very melodic but powerful voice. Bec‘s passion for her African music shines through as she plays as one with the kora” Angela Davies, Eltham World Harmonies

In 2010 Bec recorded her debut EP “Utopia”. Featuring members of her then band the ‘Kora Collective’. The recording showcases original songs in a melting pot of rich vocal and instrumental textures. Performing as part of the Arts Centre’s ‘Mix it up’ Program supporting Kora great ‘Toumani Diabate’, Bec Matthews and the Kora Collective captivated their audience with a selection of lush sound-scapes, contemporary beats and original and traditional songs.

Having relocated to the NT, a new musical direction is emerging for Bec with her ever evolving solo performance as well as involvement in Cabaret and Operatic productions. Swinging from stomping swamp blues to classical West African folk songs and a myriad of styles in between, Bec Matthews is an artist of diverse talent. With her stories of misadventure with African witch doctors to songs speaking of our own stark inequalities, Bec will take you on a journey to far flung corners of the globe and back.