A lesser-known gorge in the famous West Macs. Full of ancient petroglphys, a permanent waterhole, and ghost gums contrast against a backdrop of rust-coloured cliff faces, this is a gem of a gorge that is easily accessible by 4WD in the dry.
Located 155 km west of Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia, in the East MacDonnell Ranges.
When to Visit
Between March/April and October. Outside of this, temperatures can easily reach 40C +. And, in the rainy season, river crossings on Larapinta Drive and Namatjira Drive may be flooded and roads closed. Regularly check for road closures here. After heavy rain, the track into Roma Gorge will be impassable.
From Alice Springs, follow Larapinta Drive into the West MacDonnell Ranges and take the RH turn onto Namatjira Drive. Follow Namatjira Drive until you reach the LH turn to Roma Gorge. You can return to Alice the way you came or continue along the Namatjira Drive loop until it joins back up with Larapinta Drive (via Hermannsburg).
Fill up in Alice Springs for the cheapest fuel. Unleaded, diesel and LPG gas is available 24hrs. The return trip to Alice is easily done on half to one tank. Nearby Glen Helen Resort, and Hermannsburg, have diesel and opal (restricted hours – contact for details).
Allow approx. 30mins each way for the 4km track in to the gorge. A high-clearance 4WD is recommended on the gorge sign but we found this to be an easy track in the dry season, doable in a standard 4WD or even a SUV.
The well-defined track follows the river bed the entire way except for the last 300mtrs or so. It’s mostly a compacted track of river rock and some firm sand, with no real obstacles. Deflating, while not necessary, will make the ride over the river rocks a lot smoother.
This track is easily done if you are a single vehicle. However, after rain or flooding, wash-aways or water in the river could make this a more difficult track, so plan your visit and if in doubt take a second vehicle with you.
Video 1 – The beginning of the track. As you can see, it is mostly a compacted track, which meanders through the river gums and along the river bed.
Video 2 – This was probably the “most challenging” obstacle on the track. Easily doable in a standard 4WD or SUV.
Camping is not permitted at the gorge or within the national park boundaries. The closest campground is at Redbank Gorge (approx. 7kms or so from the Roma Gorge turn-off). There were signs, however, that people had been camping along the track.
Things to see & do
This is a pretty gorge, home to numerous petroglyphs said to be over 10000 years old. It is a sacred Aboriginal men’s site, and the carvings can be seen on many of the rocks in the river bed as well as on the gorge walls.
There is also a permanent waterhole here but the Aboriginal elders ask that you don’t swim in the waterhole. And, chances are, you probably won’t want to as it was quite stagnant at the end of the dry season when we visited.
The only official walk here is the 300 metre walk into the gorge to see the petroglyphs. There are no other defined walks/hikes in the area.
A little friendly in mid-October.