• Distance 9km
  • Altitude max 765m
  • Altitude min 660m
  • Duration 4 hours
  • Trail type Circuit
Three Stars

Three Stars

Worth Doing

The Australian Hiker Experience Rating is a measure of the overall quality of a walk. It is intended to help you decide whether to walk a trail, not to measure anything objective. Consider this our personal take on the walk.

Grade Three

Grade Three

Suitable for most ages and fitness levels. Some bushwalking experience recommended. Tracks may have short steep hill sections a rough surface and many steps. Walks up to 20km.

The Australian Grading system is based on the australian standard for measuring trail hikes.

Rubbish Bins
Camping Grounds

Ormiston Pound Walk (9km) NT

Tjoritja / West MacDonnell National Park

Best Time of the Year

April-September to avoid the excessive heat

Starting Location

The car park at the Ormiston Gorge visitor centre

Finish Location

The car park at the Ormiston Gorge visitor centre

Getting There

If you are walking the Larapinta Trail then this is a side trip worth doing that will add 1/2 to one day to your trip. Alternatively if you are a day visitor, then Ormiston Pound is accessed via Ormiston Gorge which is 135 km by car west of Alice Springs.

The road is sealed and in good condition all the way from Alice Springs. Turn off Namatjira Drive at the Ormiston Gorge turnoff. Ormiston Gorge is approximately 8 km from the main road.

Head west from Alice Springs for about 90 minutes

Ormiston Pound Walk Summary

One of the best day walks in the West MacDonnell National Park. This is a good add-on option for those doing the Larapinta Trail and is accessible by car for those just wanting a day or overnight trip from Alice Springs. The Pound Walk is accessed via Ormiston Gorge which is a 90 minute drive from Alice Springs.

The walk itself is typical of the terrain on the Larapinta Trail but without the large rocks and ups and downs. The walk will take most walkers approximately 3-4 hours depending on how much exploring you feel like doing and is usually undertaken as a circuit. If you don’t feel like getting wet you can turn around when you reach the permanent waterhole. Unless there has been heavy rains you can usually manage to cross this waterhole but you will get wet up to about your thighs. And it is very, very cold!

The best way to decribe the ‘Pound’ is as a huge amphitheatre surrounded by the hills and ridges. This walk only takes in the western end of the Pound but if you feel like wandering you certainly can do so and not have to worry about getting lost. If you do go off trail there is plenty of Spinafex so make sure you have the appropriate protection. The majority of this walk is through open terrain over a rocky surface so wear a decent hat as well as sturdy footwear.

The walk is best done in an anti clockwise direction starting by walking along the Ormiston Gorge access road and following the signs up onto a ridge which gives you panoramic views of the Pound.

While this walk can be done at any time of the year, the summer heat can be oppressive but does make the waterhole crossing that much more enjoyable as the water is best described as freezing. Once you cross over the waterhole you can continue along the creek bed back to Ormiston Gorge or take the alternate route via the Ghost Gum walk (I would strongly recommend this) which provides for excellent views back through the gorge you have just walked and down towards the Ormiston Gorge complex.

Ormiston Pound Walk trail. The red rocky surface is typical of the Larapinta Trail

The Ormiston Pound is a huge open amphitheatre bounded by a series of hills and ridges

Walking into the narrow gorge at the end of the walk you come across a number of waterholes

Ghost Gums grow in isolated positions even half way up rock walls

This walk will require you to wade/swim through waterholes. The water is freezing cold. Check at the visitor centre on the expected depth of the water before you start your walk

Once you cross the main waterhole you can either head along the creek bed back to the visitor centre or take the Ghost Gum walk. This walk will take you up onto the ridge again and provides great elevated views of the gorge you have just passed through as well as views of the Ormiston Gorge complex

Looking down from the Ghost Gum viewing platform. The people below have opted not to take the elevated route

Looking down towards the Ormiston Gorge complex

Things to Know

  • Phone: There is variable but poor phone signal on this trail (Telstra)
  • Water: You need to bring your own water or at least a filter
  • Toilets: There are no toilets on this trail apart from at the trailhead
  • Trail: This walk is on formed trail and requires a water crossing so come prepared
  • Dogs: No dogs allowed
  • Camping: At is available at the campground at Ormiston Gorge
  • Other: 
    • Bring adequate shade (hat, long sleeves etc) in the hotter months
    • Bring enough snacks and water to last your for around half a day

Australian Hiker Newsletter

* All fields are required

Please Wait.

Thank you for sign up!