Arrernte country, the traditional Aboriginal land in Central Australia, includes Alice Springs and parts of the MacDonnell Ranges. The traditional owners of the land have lived here for over 20,000 years. Many of these ranges were formed at least 1000 million years ago, but the sediments that comprise them have been dated to be at least 1400-2400 million years old.
To the east of Alice Springs, within an hour's drive, are easily accessible sites important to the local Arrernte people that you can visit, some of which contain examples of ancient rock art. These include, to mention a few, Emily Gap, Jessie Gap, Trephina Gorge and N’Dhala Gorge. To the west of Alice Springs is the Larapinta Trail, a world-class, long distance bush walking trail that runs 223 kilometres along the backbone of the range. Along the trail are Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm, Ellery Creek Big Hole, Serpentine Gorge, the Ochre Pits, Ormiston Pound, Redbank Gorge, Glen Helen Gorge, Tnorala Gosse Bluff, Palm Valley, Mount Sonder, Mount Zeil and Mount Giles.
The country is rich with mountain ranges, waterholes, gorges and pristine 'conservation areas' in which an abundance of various species of plants, animals and sacred rock art belonging to the traditional owners are protected. These spectacular places are like huge outdoor art galleries in nature. It is always advisable to view the rock art but not to photograph it, in respect for the traditional land owners' customs & beliefs and the significance many of these sites continue to hold for them.