Finke National Park – Overview & Things to See and Do
Finke Gorge National Park covers an area of 46,00 hectares including the impressive Palm Valley. The Park Lies 138km west of Alice Springs. The track from Hermannsburg to the park is rock strewn and follows the sandy bed of the Finke River. It is strictly for 4WD vehicles. The Finke Gorge National Park is accessible all year round except on rare occasions when the Finke River is in flood. The cooler months (April to September) are the best time of the year to visit . (hire car companies do not permit their vehicles in this area)
The main gorge features high red cliffs, river gums, cool water holes clean white sand and tall green palms.
A separate track following Ellery Creek east of Hermannsburg takes 4WD enthusiasts through to Boggy Hole on the Finke River. This rough track continues on to Illamurta Spring Conservation Reserve. Rangers at Finke Gorge can provide a map to facilitate exploration of this marvellous area.
Thing to See and Do
Palm Valley: Fossils, rocks and some small watercourses from time to time provide the scenery on the way to this valley. Without 4WD and sufficient ground distance access is not possible. Expect travel to be slow. There are some 3000 or so Palms in the valley and they exist nowhere else in the world. These graceful and seemingly fragile palms have survived at least 20,000 years. Visitors are asked to take great care not to tread on young palms, distinguished by their red colour, or walk amongst the mature palms as continual tramping may disturb the soils in which these palms are rooted.
The park offers great opportunities for photography and bushwalks. A walk to Kalarange Lookout (1.5 kilometres, 45 min return) is an easy climb with spectacular views of the Amphitheatre. The Mpaara Walk (5 kilometres, 2 hr return) introduces visitors to the mythology of the Western Arrernte culture Initiation Rock, a large outcrop in the Amphitheatre provides a perfect viewing platform for the most breathtaking scenery. Rangers occassionally give 1 hr talks at the campground contact the ranger at Finke Gorge on Tel (08) 8956 7401 for times.
Boggey Hole – Finke River 4WD Route: Suitable for experienced Drivers and well prepared vehicles, The 4WD route through the middle of the park takes in a spectacular section of the Finke River and a provides a 4WD alternative linking Larapinta Drive with Giles Road. The route is 4WD only and not suitable for trailers. Recommended you travel with another vehicle. Travelling time from Palm Valley to Watarrka National Park is about 7 hours. Bush camping is permitted in the Finke River on this route with the best camping (no facilities) at Boggy Hole, a large waterhole, approximately 2.5 hours from Palm Valley. Recommended and a great experience for 4WD enthusiasts.
Illamurta Springs Reserve: This is one of the most peaceful and isolated Reserves in the Red Centre. It’s natural values are due to the impressive southern foothills of the James Range and the presence of a permanent natural spring. Located to the South of Finke Gorge National Park the Reserve offers visitors recreational activities including walking, nature appreciation and photography. The Reserve also provides Aboriginal culture and European history appreciation by protecting the ruins of the Illamurta Springs Police Station. The Illamurta Springs Police Station was operational between 1893 and 1912 and was constructed to manage Aboriginal resistance, to pastoral settlement in the area in the form of spearing cattle. Camping is NOT permitted in the reserve.
Hermannsburg Historical Precinct: Hermannsburg was Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjirals’ homeland. His whitewashed cottage, well preserved on the side of the gravel road to Finke Gorge, is of great interest to visitors. The township is also the site for some fine early churches and cottages built by German Lutheran missionaries in 1877. The Horn Expedition visited Hermannsburg in 1894, but the report was not flattering. The mission was abandoned and the whole place (was) more or less in ruins.