A walk review: Hells Gate & The Pinch

Michael Giacometti recaps a walk south of town on 26 April 2015

Ooraminna start of walkWalk: Mt Ooraminna & The Pinch
Length: around 11 Km
Time: about 5 hours elapsed
Grade: Easy-Medium off-track. Short and steep ridge climb and descent on loose rocks followed by flat creek bed, 4WD track and plains walking.

Eight walkers joined Diane Alford (leader) for a short and interesting walk with geologic and historic significance on Deep Well Station about one hour drive south of Alice. Permission for the walk was obtained in advance from the Hayes family who hold the pastoral lease. Diane led a walk here last year, but it was marred by bitterly cold and rainy weather. This time we were bathed in bright sunshine.

The cars were left in a natural corral (GR 981344) at the end of the Ooraminna Range, about 2.5 kilometres after turning east off the South Road. (The turnoff is about 100 metres before the Off Road Centre.)

Ooraminna up the gullyWe headed off north of east across the corral and climbed a gutter to the red sandstone ridge, then continued on the bearing across the scrubby tops to descend steeply on loose rocks to a creek. This creek we followed as it meandered north of east. In doing so, we missed out on climbing Mt Ooraminna a little way off to the north. After following the creek for about 3 kilometres we took a brief diversion north-west to a holey-rocky pinnacle. Back along the creek for another kilometre and we came to the remarkable Hells Gate (GR 012356), a vertical rocky wall like the rampart of a castle, breached only by the creek. We stopped here for an hour and explored the castle walls from many vantage points.

Ooraminna Hells GateFrom Hells Gate we followed the original road (in reverse) that led to the Arltunga Goldfields in the early 1900s. Imagine pushing a wheelbarrow with all your possessions and food and water through this dry and rocky terrain. And imagine how rich a load you’ll strike! About one kilometre south and we hit The Pinch (GR 012347), a man-made ramp-like cutting in the sandstone. It must have been hell for the miners and the bullocks getting up this bastard ramp.

Ooraminna plainsAnother kilometre on a sandy track took us past Pinch Bore, then after another 500 metres we left the track to skirt the base of the range, heading west. We crossed several clay gutters and small sandridges, and as the day grew hotter and with no shade, we all wondered how far it was to the end of the range. Finally, after about 5 kilometres, we rounded the end of the steep-sided range and climbed over an obvious saddle to the cars.

Ooraminna outcropsA few of the group scrambled up the sandstone outcrop southwest of the saddle to an overhang with a few petroglyphs (Aboriginal rock engravings).

Overall, an interesting and non-challenging day walk in a region that the club used to walk many years ago, but has not done much recently.


About centralozbushwalkers

We are an incorporated association, but really we are an informal group of bushwalkers. We conduct day and overnight walks in Central Australia, both on- and off-track. Visitors and new members are welcome on the walks.
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2 Responses to A walk review: Hells Gate & The Pinch

  1. Diane Alford says:

    Hi Michael

    Great summary of the walk. I didn’t realise you were going to put the walk into words. I loved that walk the first time I did it with Darren Schiller leading the way, and I had often thought about checking the possibility of showing others that area myself. With a couple of health issues, it took me til last year to find a path to do it – then I did have to pick the coldest day of the year to do that. You mentioned Mt Ooraminna – I’m not 100 % sure exactly where that is – but is it over to the left of where we reached the top of the ridge in the early part of the walk? Would it be possible to climb Mt Ooraminna and then work our way down to the creek bed and check out Hell’s Gate & The Pinch from there.

    Again, I enjoyed reading your words about this special little walk.

    Thank you, Diane Alford

    • Thanks For leading the walk Diane.
      I was not looking for Mt Ooraminna when we were out there, but yes, I believe it possible to do the walk as you suggest, by following the ridgetop north and northeast to the peak and then drop down into the creek to Hells Gate. Another look at Google Earth required!

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