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.