An oasis in a scorching land. Palm Valley is out of the ordinary with a gorge full of Cabbage Palms in a dry and inhospitable desert landscape.
Located in the centre of Australia, this magnificent location is one of the most spectacular 4wd destinations in the Northern Territory. It is an ancient location and a unique form of palms grows abundantly within the valley. The Red Cabbage Palms are tall and tower above the river below. The area is also scattered with Cycads and other native plants.
The road into the valley is about 23 kilometres long and takes a decent amount of time to travel depending on track conditions. The track follows the Finke river for the first 15 kilometres or so and crosses the river on numerous occasions. The sand of the river banks can become very soft and very deep and it is advised to be in a high clearance 4wd. The track then turns west along rocky outcrops and through some magnificent rock formations. The Northern Territory government has a number of websites that provide details, including track conditions and open/closed status.
Once you reach the actual Palm Valley section, you’ll need to leave your 4wd behind and walk the last part of the track to get to the Red Cabbage Palms. The Red Cabbage Palms extend for several kilometres into the valley and there are two walking tracks that you can use to explore the area in detail. The track back takes you to the top of the towering cliffs of the valley allowing a birds eye view of the valley floor. Depending on the time of year that you visit, there is often plenty of water in the creek that flows through the valley and often fish, lizards and other animals can be found in and around the creek.
There are lots of places to stop off along the way and take in the scenery and as you can see by watching the video below, there is plenty of scenery. This is a great day trip for anyone staying in Alice Springs or camping anywhere in the West MacDonnell Ranges and is a “must visit” attraction when in the area. There is plenty of time to complete the track and even though the sign says to allow 3 hours, if the road is in good condition it will likely take less time. So if you have some spare time it is worth visiting the township of Hermannsburg.
This location is very popular for organised tours, so don’t be surprised to find a few large 4wd tour bus trucks on the way in or parked in the car park at the valley. You need to also be careful of tourists in hire 4wd’s who don’t have good experience in sand and off road driving. A good place to stay alert when driving.
DIRECTIONS: From Alice Springs, take the Larapinta Drive west for 126 kilometres into Hermannsburg. Travel past Hermansburg and over the Finke River causeway. The turnoff onto the dirt is on the left about 100 metres past the causeway. The track is well signposted and easily followed, however is often closed during and after flooding.