West MacDonnell Ranges

General Information | Trips that go here

The MacDonnell Ranges are a 644km long series of mountain ranges located in the centre of Australia, and consist of parallel ridges running to the east and west of Alice Springs. The mountain range contains many spectacular gaps and gorges as well as areas of aboriginal significance.

The ranges were named after Sir Richard MacDonnell (the Governor of South Australia at the time) by John McDouall Stuart, whose 1860 expedition reached them in April of that year. The Horn Expedition investigated the ranges as part of the scientific expedition into central Australia. Other explorers of the range included David Lindsay and John Ross.

350-300 million years ago a mountain building event created the MacDonnell Ranges. Since that time, folding, faulting and erosion have shaped the range and created numerous gaps and gorges. The ranges are composed of many rock types, but are most famous for their red quartzite peaks and gorges. Other rock types include granitelimestonesandstone and siltstone. Some of the valleys of the range contain fossil evidence of the inland sea that once covered central Australia.