As part of their annual trip to the Northern Territory Central Employment Forum in August, four senior boys from Tennant Creek Academy made a stop over at the picturesque Glen Helen Gorge, 130km west of Alice Springs.
They were hosted by staff members from the Ngurratjuta/Pmara Ntjarra Aboriginal Corporation, a valued partner of the Clontarf Foundation, and were provided with tours of the majestic surroundings and the Glen Helen Lodge.
Tennant Creek Academy Operations Officer Randall Coombe took part in the visit and provided an in depth account of the visit, which can be found below.
“The lodge is positioned at the foot of the spectacular Glen Helen Gorge on the mighty Finke River, providing some magnificent outback scenery for visitors, who have the choice of either motel rooms or the camping grounds for their accommodation.
We arrived late in the afternoon and set up our tents in the campground before using the camp kitchen facility to cook up a chicken stirfry for dinner.
The next morning provided a spectacular sunrise that accentuated the escarpment features of the gorge, providing one of the highlights of an early morning walk down to the permanent waterhole that remains when much of the rest of the Finke River is waterless between rain events.
With the lodge situated at the heart of the West MacDonnell Ranges, it offers the ideal starting base for visitors to see the many natural landscape attractions that make the ranges one of the region’s main tourism destinations.
After our look at Glen Helen Gorge we went for a short five minute drive to Ormiston Gorge to walk one its bush trails.
We chose the approximately 90-minute “Ghost Gum” trail, which features a walk to the top of the escarpment before a descent that takes you down to the river bed, which provides the route for the journey back.
There are both longer and shorter trails to walk that offer options for most age and fitness levels.
From there it was another 5-10 minute drive to the “Ochre Pits”, where the fellas could view a snapshot of geographical history via the layers of rock on the cliff face, from where traditional owners gathering the ochre soil to use for ceremonial painting.
After a morning of exploring the local wonders we then returned to the lodge to enjoy a lunch from the restaurant, which offered an indoor dining area and an outdoor one where the escarpment view and waterhole added to the dining experience.
To finish off our visit the lodge manager Chris and maintenance worker Lloyd, who is also one of the traditional owners for the area, took us on a tour of the lodge.
They provided terrific insight into what is required to keep the lodge operating under its own supply of power from two massive diesel generators, a sewerage filtration system and water supply for showers and cleaning.
The work site tour highlighted the many different job roles filled by the 16 employees that work at the lodge at this time of the year, which is the busiest in terms of visitor numbers.
Equipment maintenance, housekeeping, kitchen staff, hospitality, truck driver, forklift operation and booking reservations are some of the employment roles at the site, with Chris and Lloyd also highlighting that individual staff may perform duties in several of those roles on any given day.”