After the fires but still worth a visit

The Tyuretye/West MacDonnell National Park was extensively burnt in the last couple of months.
Lightning strikes and a record dry, hot spell made for an incendiary combination. Much of the Larapinta Trail has been damaged. The beauty of place still remains, though.

Hugh gorge after the fire.jpg

Southern entrance to Hugh gorge; Larapinta Trail section 5


Hugh gorge2.png

Hugh gorge along section 5 of the Larapinta Trail

Burnt marker.jpg

19-Km marker – Larapinta Trail section 6

Fallen sentinel.jpg

Fallen river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) across the track, Hugh gorge

Working bees over the next few weeks will work on clearing fallen debris and replacing burnt out signage. Luckily most of the debris is small trees, like mulga and other acacias, which were easy to lift off the trail.

There is much beauty, still, to appreciate, despite the destruction.

The fires seem to be patchy with many areas spared. The gullies, in particular, seem to have taken the brunt of the fires.
In the photo below, we are having lunch at Ghost Gum Flat, along section 6 of the Larapinta Trail.

We were sitting beneath a magnificent Fork-leafed Corkwood (Hakea divaricata, in latin and untyeye in Western Arrernte).
The fire has partly burnt some of the adjacent ghost gums (Corymbia aparrerinja, in latin and Ilwempe in Arrernte) but spared the corkwood, leaving a nice shady spot to relax under.

Workers rest - Ghost Gum Flat.jpg

Lunch under the Corkwood ; Ghost Gum Flat, Larapinta trail section 6

Burnt and unburnt.jpg

Burnt track adjacent to untouched track – Larapinta Trail section 6

Unburnt section 6.jpg

Unburnt track – Larapinta Trail section 6

Inarlanga pass

Inarlanga pass – Cycads (Macrozamia macdonnellii, or (a)tywekekwerle) untouched by fire.

It was sad to see grand old trees – entire ecosystems – burnt and fallen and cliffs and hill-sides blackened and singed, but over millenia they must’ve burnt multiple times (maybe less intensely before buffel). They will survive and re-generate.

Burnt markers.jpg

Burnt markers


Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, life goes on

Cycads regrowing.jpg

Cycads re-emerging

Cooling off at Jay Creek fish hole.jpg

After a day lopping and sawing logs and branches and drilling in new track markers, it’s good to lie down on a beach next to a waterhole.

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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5 Responses to After the fires but still worth a visit

  1. Meg McKone says:

    Thanks for this information. I’m hoping to take a walk through Hugh Gorge and beyond next August but unless it rains in the meantime will have to cancel, I think.

    Best wishes
    Meg McKone

    • Peter Nowak says:

      Hi Meg ;

      Certainly I would not consider cancelling , black on the ground but not totally comprehensive and the spectacular red / oranges cliffs still stand strong , the views from high points are just as spectacular as ever .
      I have been out helping with the restoration, and there is still much not affected, there is plenty of raw beauty to enjoy .
      Regrowth and scar cover is fast . there are already trails of green buds and clumps of leafy flush appearing from stumps , Yes the landscape is scarred and Yes some of it is changed , many old trees are gone , but overall the intrinsic magnificence of the West Macs dwarfs the surface blemish.
      I know you have the essence of Central Australia in your soul. You have been walking here for a long time. Please come, encourage others and continue your association with our beautiful landscapes

      Peter Nowak

  2. Rosalie says:

    Great post.
    Central/ Eastern Arrernte for corkword = untyeye

  3. ribuck says:

    Thanks for this post. I see you used the words “a record dry, hot spell”. I am planning an off-track bushwalk in May, starting and ending at Ormiston Gorge. What’s the best way to find out about rainfall between now and then?

    Unfortunately, the Ormiston Gorge weather station stopped recording rainfall on 3rd December 2018, and Glen Helen Homestead weather station stopped recording rainfall years ago. Is there an alternate source for rainfall data?I know that Alice Springs Airport records daily rainfall, but in the West MacDonnell Ranges a lot of the rain falls in localised storms and I was hoping for a source closer to Ormiston Gorge. Any insight is much appreciated.

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