Palm Valley, which is home to famously out-of-place Cabbage Palms, is a picturesque oasis in the Northern Territory’s Finke Gorge National Park.
This is the only area where these palms are found for 850km in every direction and if that weren’t enough, it is also home to the world’s oldest river, making it a must-visit location for any traveller with adventure in mind.
It was in 1928 when Herbert Joseph Larkin led an expedition to determine whether the area could be developed into a resort, but the expedition failed. Those looking to reach this spot will only be able to do so via 4WD, following the track from Hermannsburg southwards along the Finke River all the way to Palm Valley.
What to expect
Palm Valley is situated in the Finke Gorge National Park and is nestled in the Krichauff Range 123km’s from Alice Springs. It is here where the Red Cabbage Palms grow, in an arid region where rainfall is limited to 200mm each year. Visitors to the area will be able to find small spring-fed pools that feed the plants within the area. When the rains fall, you will find that the gorge flows with water and aquatic life.
The Red Cabbage Palms
The Red Cabbage Palms are one of the biggest drawcards for visitors to Palm Valley because they are unique to the area. It is believed that the palms were established in the area as far back as prehistoric times, when the climate was able to support a type of tropical rainforest in the region. Interestingly, Aboriginal legends have the palm seeds being brought into the area by gods from the north.
Off-roaders will need to keep in mind that Palm Valley is only accessible by a high clearance 4WD vehicle. Those choosing the Finke River route should be aware that it passes through various remote areas, including Illamurta Springs, which means that visitors will need to make sure that they are prepared for the journey. Not only will they need food and water, but 4WDers also need to bring recovery gear along. The roads are open throughout the year, but they might be closed after heavy rains, so you will want to look up road conditions before leaving home. Those choosing to visit the area will likely find that the best period to do so is from April to September, when temperatures begin to fall.
Finke Gorge National Park
The Finke Gorge National Park spans 46,000 hectares and it is within this park that Palm Valley is situated, making it a prime destination for explorers to this area. It is also within this national park that the Finke River is situated. For those visiting the area, there are a range of activities to take part in, including bushwalking, picnicking, camping and 4 wheel driving.
The national park offers toilet facilities, showers, gas barbeques and drinking water, in addition to walking trails. Visitors to the park will also need to keep in mind that camping is restricted to designated areas, such as Boggy Hole.
There are a variety of walking trails offered within the Palm Valley and national park areas. One of the more popular trails is the Mpaara Walk, which is a 5 km, 2 hour walk that takes visitors through the sandstone region and immerses them in the Aboriginal culture within the area. The Kalaranga Lookout is a 1.5 km climb that boasts astounding views of a sandstone amphitheatre and will take about 45 minutes to complete.
The Arankaia walk, which is a 2 km, 1 hour trail, will lead visitors directly into the midst of the palm groves, and lastly the Mpulungkinya walk covers 5 km’s and directs visitors through the palm groves and back to the car park.
A visit to Palm Valley isn’t just about being transported into the past, where these palms littered the surrounding areas, but it also offers numerous opportunities for adventure for any outdoor enthusiast.