OZ Top Spot #13 – Standley Chasm, via Alice Springs, Northern Territory

Last Updated on March 3, 2017 by Red Nomad OZ

Standley Chasm, MacDonnell Ranges, Northern Territory
Standley Chasm, MacDonnell Ranges, Northern Territory

‘It’s just a short walk up the gorge starting over there,’ the kiosk attendant told the three fit young women in front of us, waving casually towards the trail head.

Then it was our turn. Pilchard produced his senior’s card.

‘The track is uneven and rocky, and there’s a couple of creek crossings so please take it easy and take your time,’ the kiosk attendant told us. He pointed to the trail head, thus missing the venomous look Pilchard shot him.

But the clock was ticking, so jostling passing a few straggling Grey Nomads and ignoring the attendant’s instruction, we raced up the track like people half our age, barely even pausing for photos of the magnificent cycad palms and other remnant vegetation from a previous, wetter age.

Entrance to Standley Chasm
Entrance to Standley Chasm

‘Late’ isn’t a concept normally associated with self-guided tours of gorges or other scenic marvels, but Standley Chasm, also known as Angkerle Atwatye to the local Indigenous people, is an exception.

Although spectacular at any time, the sun only enters the narrow gap between its sheer and towering walls around midday for about half an hour.

And that’s when those red rock walls GLOW!

About 20 minutes too late on our only previous visit eight years ago, I took a couple of photos. On time for our June 2012 visit, the tally was closer to 200!

Well, almost.

Standley Chasm - RED Rock!  Northern Territory
Standley Chasm – RED Rock!  Northern Territory

As we entered the chasm and in our haste to hog the best spot bring you these photos, we stepped around a man lying in an awkward position on the rocky floor.

But before you judge us as heartless and shallow, he was no out-of-condition senior in need of resuscitation but a cameraman filming a sequence with ‘Fred’ for Grey Nomad bible favourite Caravan and Motorhome on Tour magazine’s DVD insert!

Surrounded by a feeding frenzy of fans, Fred’s strategic position at the head of the chasm made it difficult to reach the best vantage points.

But I guess that’s why I was given elbows …

Privately owned and run by the Iwupataka Land Trust, Angkerle Atwatye is more commonly known as Standley Chasm, so named in honour of Ida Standley, Alice Springs’ first school teacher and first non-Aboriginal woman to see this amazing place.

Now it’s a popular stopping point for tourists at the start of their exploration of the magnificent West MacDonnell Ranges.

Out of Alice Springs in the middle of Australia’s Red Centre, the ranges spread both east AND west from ‘the Alice’, and Standley Chasm is just a taste of what to expect along the way.

The gap between the walls - Standley Chasm, Northern Territory
The gap between the walls – Standley Chasm, Northern Territory

I fear at one point I crossed the cameraman’s line of vision, so the Caravan and Motorhome on Tour DVD #178 MAY feature a red-head in a green T-shirt manically taking photos.

But if she looks fat, you’ll know the camera equipment was defective …

As we returned down the path, Pilchard plotting to challenge the young kiosk attendant to a race up the track, hordes of tourists continued to pour up the gorge to the chasm.

The urge to tell them they’d missed the best bit was ALMOST overwhelming.

Looking through Standley Chasm to the other side!
Looking through Standley Chasm to the other side!

But Fred was right. No one leaves Angkerle Atwatye without a smile on their face!

If you need more convincing that Standley Chasm, Alice Springs and Australia’s awesome Red Centre could be the start of a fabulous vacation, just check out the links below!

And if THEY don’t tempt you, nothing will!

Tempted?  There’s always a chance for last minute flights if you want to see the sights of Central Australia NOW!

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  1. Glad you elbowed all those young whippersnappers out of the way so that you got there at the absolutely perfect hour. Gorgeous pictures and once again, reminds me of some of “our” country, in the Southwest.

  2. I love exploring Australia with you! Best guide ever! I have my senior’s card. Race you to the top!!!

  3. Wonderful photos and your telling of the tale took me there. Loved it. 🙂 I write similar posts on my blog. Stop by some time if you have a chance! Thanks for sharing

  4. Glad you’re fit and could get up there in a timely fashion. The photos show an amazing natural wonder.

  5. @Saucy Kod – I wish it were only 10 pounds …
    @Jo – OK, I give up! What’s the third thing I DIDN’T make you do?!?!
    @Stewart M – Just tell yourself you were there at the wrong time of day & didn’t want to spoil it!!!
    @George – Me too!
    @PDP – You’re too kind. Your shots are completely different to my simple landscape point & clicks. Besides, I don’t have any shots of Perth … look forward to hearing from you – email them via my profile email address!
    @Pearl Maple – Thanx, and I have!
    @Mary – You MUST share your hex! Not only would that be SO much fun, it’s your duty!!!
    @Mrs Tuna – Yeah … not often someone like me gets to feel small!!!
    @Alessandra – Bummer, I missed you! It’s 50 km from Alice, and well & truly on the tourist trail!!
    @River – check out the seniors card website. Starting age is 60 … so Pilchard tells me!!!

  6. The chasm looks amazing! As soon as I retire I’ll be saving my pennies for a few trips with my camera. I need to find out about this seniors card too.

  7. I will be in Alice Springs in a few days, I wonder if I will make it here too. Anyway, everything looks stunning there!


  8. What a fantastic place to visit. The photos of it are outstanding as is the background, historical and hysterical, that you’ve given us. I have a hex that can be used on officious attendants and guides who too often mistake senior with stupid. I’m really glad you got to see the walls turn red and glow. It must have been fantastic sight. Have a great day. Hugs and blessings…Mary

  9. the colour and light in that part of the country is amazing, thanks for sharing and have a great weekend

  10. Red these are magnificent shots. I didn’t get to see this while I was on my adventure but I was so glad that I got to visit Simpson’s Gap, I’m pretty sure that’s what the Gap was called which we visited. I also LOVED the sunset from up on the hill where the monument is for the vets, that was one fantastic light show!

    Your photos have me longing to return, I will one day, I’m just not certain which day this will be yet!

    Cheers and happy trails!

  11. Fabulous shots Red, very ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ feel to them, mysterious, glad to see you didn’t disappear through one of those chasms never to be seen again! I’ll see if I can come up with a series of red shots, it’s a little daunting because your images are all so bloomin’ brilliant!!

  12. Hi there – looks like I picked a good time to drop by again! Great set of pictures – I managed not to visit this place a few years ago – which I knew was a mistake at the time!

    Great post.

    Stewart M – Melbourne

    PS: Seems I was not able to hide what I really think in terms of the republic!

  13. Red, these are really stunning, especially looking through Stanley Chasm to the other side. The colours are brilliant, offset by the bit of blue sky peeking through the gap between the walls. I have never seen the TV show, however, I am sure I might recognize the red-head in the green T-shirt. Hey, didn’t you already know TV adds 10 pounds. ha,ha
    I thoroughly enjoyed this post and the photography is beyond stunning – thanks for the thrill.

  14. @Jayne – I’m sure it would have been bliss in any other colour too, but RED suited me just fine!
    @darlin – Simpson’s Gap is pretty good too. GREAT Scenic Loo!!! Keep watching this space and you’ll see even MORE wonders of OZ!!!

  15. @diane b – I don’t think there’s a ‘wrong’ time! It’s just that the ‘glow’ time gets your shutter finger twitching more rapidly!
    @Dianne – NO ONE was going to stand in our way this time!! But t’s still amazing even when the sun isn’t directly overhead!
    @SFlaGuy – I’m sure I’d love Mars, being RED and all, but this’ll do just fine in the meantime! So … you didn’t win that competition then?!?!
    @Kath – I thought it was great the 1st time. Now I know it’s magnificent!!
    @Fun60 – HAha, you’re right! If I hadn’t been the 1st time, I wouldn’t have appreciated the 2nd time so much!!
    @FruitCake – HHHMMMmmm… What IS wrong with you?!?!?! It’s about 50km from Alice. Don’t wait for a seniors card, all that did is give P $2 off the entry!!
    @TMWH – I think all heights are equal with rocky walls this high!!! Even a tall person like me gets a little overawed!
    @Beach Bum – Well stick around and it’ll get even longer, my friend!!!

  16. The colour of those rocks is awesome. Looks like you have to visit the place twice. Once to miss the best time and then a second chance to get it right. Well done you.

  17. Awesome pictures! Since I have started reading your blog my list of places to see down in Oz has grown impossibly long.

  18. My goodness! Those rocks look positively radiant. They also look a little intimidating to a short person like me! Lol!

    When you are famous on that cameraman’s dvd, remember us!

  19. What is wrong with me? Been to Alice twice and never seen the chasm.
    Better get back there and set out, oh, around 8 am so I won’t miss the midday marvel. Or maybe just wait til I have a senior’s card…

    the rotters

  20. All your adventures seem to take place on Mars. I have traveled a lot and have never seen such amazing places. Looks like I will need to start saving for a trip down under.

  21. What can I say Red but Amazing!! you’ve captured the magic half hour perfectly … Love that deep rich ochre … I can imagine the thrill of actually being there with camera in hand.

  22. One of the best places I have visited in Oz. I don’t think I was there at the right time as these photos are glowing.

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