Central Australia can be as diverse as the Simpson Desert, stunning Uluru and the incredibly unique Palm Valley.
As we looped our way through the West MacDonnell Ranges and headed east toward the start of our Hay River Track trip, we made the side trip into Palm Valley.
Palm Valley lies within the Finke Gorge National Park; the turnoff is about 140km west of Alice Springs. It’s a popular one or two-night stop on many travellers journey through the area.
It’s about a 16km, rough track in. Most 4x4s and off-road campers will have no problems getting to the camping area. The last section of trail up into Palm Valley is more difficult with some step-ups and more technical driving. Equipped 4x4s will have no dramas, but camper trailers and low riding 4x4s really should be parked at the campground – but don’t worry it’s a nice walk.
The geology of the park is stunning in its own right. Combine this with towering palms and then remember this is the centre of Australia and it’s an incredibly majestic combination.
The palms are the Central Australian Red Cabbage Palm, Livistona mariae, the only naturally occurring palms in central Australia. There are roughly 9,000 palms, and they all lie in small pockets within the park and surrounds.
From the end of the road, it’s easy to see why this place is called Palm Valley! There are a few great walks that are definitely worth the effort. First, we climbed up on to the edge of the gorge; the view back down the valley is spectacular.
Further along, we zig-zagged with the track back down to the valley floor. It was a relief to be back in the cool; shaded by palms towering up to 25m high. As we walked back along this valley, surrounded by palms, this was not what we had expected to come across in central Australia.
The designated camping area had great views. Over sunset dinner, our conversation bounced from the palms to Uluru, the West MacDonnell National Park and the places still to come.