Ormiston Gorge - West Macdonnell Ranges

The West Macdonnell Ranges consist of multiple gorges and beautiful cliff faces that tower over some of the Northern Territories most refreshing and scenic watering holes. It's the closest thing you'll find to a beach for over a thousand kilometres. This particular gorge is located just over an hour drive West of Alice Springs.


As usual, landscape photography requires a few obvious pieces of kit; camera, lenses, tripods, filters etc. But some other things you may need whilst shooting at Ormiston Gorge (or the West Macs in general) are:

  • Inclosed footwear: Central Australia is quite literally one of the hottest regions of Australia. And with the heat, comes snakes. It's always best to wear shoes that can help to prevent snake bites. Not to mention, depending on how adventurous you are, you may wish to climb to a higher vantage point which is pretty difficult in thongs (or flip flops).

  • Fly net: During winter, the flies aren't an issue. Once it starts to heat up however, you'll thank me for this recommendation!

  • Drinking water: As the desert is so hot and dry, you will need plenty of water, more than you would normally take. For a day trip, I would recommend at least 4 litres.

  • Swimwear: Throughout the warmer months of the year, this is probably one of the best places to go for a dip in all of Central Australia. During winter though, it's probably too cold.


Ormiston Gorge is probably best to shoot just after sunrise when the cliff faces start to glow a rich orange. The sun sets behind the ranges way before actual sunset time, so you won't get any golden light on any of the gorge's faces.

As most locations in the Northern Territory are far far away from any hint of light pollution, it's also a great time to shoot the milky way and general star/nighttime shots. Just like the rest of Australia, it's best to shoot the Milky Way in the middle of the year.


Ormiston Gorge is only an hour or so drive West of Alice Springs, approximately 135km. The roads are sealed the entire way, so a 4WD isn't necessary. However, there are some other turnoff's before Ormiston (i.e. Serpentine Gorge) that do require a 4WD.