Published: Sep 2022

Trephina Gorge (Alherrkentye)

Note: indicated routes and locations are approximate.Use official topographic maps for navigation

About 85km east of Alice Springs is Trephina Gorge Nature Park. The main gorge area and campgrounds are fairly popular, but the camping area at Atneperrke (John Hayes Rockhole) in the west of the park is less heavily used, and there's a great one day ridgetop walk connecting the two.

The usual advice for those interested in doing the ridgetop walk is to start at Trephina Gorge, which is easily accessible by any vehicle, walk the track to Atneperrke, then walk back to Trephina Gorge along the road. However, if you can organise transport to and from Alice Springs with a tour operator, other options are possible. Although that transport can be a bit expensive, it's probably no more so than the alternative three or four days' car hire, with the added advantage of not needing to walk in a loop.

On this occasion I spent a day at Atneperrke, another day walking to Trephina Gorge and the final day doing day walks at the gorge. Note that the road in to the rockhole campground is very rough, and a capable 4WD is required — all the more reason to get someone to drive you in! There's also no potable water there, so remember to bring enough with you for your stay and the ridgetop walk. There is potable water at Trephina Gorge via a fairly substantial reticulated water system.

As always, see the official park web page for more information, including park closures, access restrictions, camping fees and and safety advice. Also remember to take proper topographic maps, a compass and a PLB.

The camping area at John Hayes Rockhole is fairly small and the access track is pretty rough, but it's got all the basics: fire pits, a toilet and picnic tables. Remember to bring water though. There's no reliable water supply here.

From the camping area there's a great 3.5km loop walk that follows the creek through a spectacular little gorge.

Looking down to the Chain of Ponds
Start of the Chain of Ponds walk
Stone steps
Quartz vein
Rock formation
The rockholes
Sun setting on the hill near the campsite

There's a 9km walk across to Trephina Gorge itself. If you've walked any of the Larapinta Trail, this walk will feel reasonably familiar.

Turnoff to the ridgetop walk

The ridgetop walk branches off the Chain of Ponds walk

Ascending to the ridge
Approaching the ridgetop
Turners Lookout

The lookout is an easy 1km off the main ridgetop track

Descending to Trephina Gorge
Campsite at the Trephina Bluff campground

For walkers, the Trephina Bluff campground is probably the best option as it's not suitable for caravans and it's a few hundred metres away from the other campgrounds.

Here's just a sample of the many bird species that inhabit the gorge. See here for a much more comprehensive list.

Australian Ringneck
Western Bowerbird
White-plumed Honeyeater
Splendid Fairywren
Trephina Gorge campgrounds at sunrise
A rocky bluff and sparse vegetation with a clear sky in the background
Trephina Gorge at sunrise
River Redgums in Trephina Gorge
A large eucalyptus tree and grassland with a rocky hill in the background