Binns Track, Plenty Highway To Ross Highway – Mountains In The Desert

Binns Track from the Plenty Highway to the Ross Highway winds through the Harts and East MacDonnell Ranges. There’s fantastic scenery and lots to see!

Harts Range in the distance, Binns Track.
Heading towards Harts Range on Binns Track from the Plenty Highway.

If you’re heading to Alice Springs from Western Queensland, this short section of Binns Track provides a close-up view of the magnificent Harts and East MacDonnell Ranges. A narrow track, it twists and weaves through some truly spectacular country.

You can also take this road if you’re staying in Alice Springs. Take a day drive or pack up the 4WD a spend a few days out here.






The Red Centre On Display

If you’ve never been to the Red Centre before, this section of Binns Track will be a surprise. Once you cross a wide plain, you’re into the mountains of the Harts Range. Yes, they’re small mountains. However the scenery is mind-blowingly beautiful.

Rugged red cliffs, those strange pointy hills, dry creeks full of white river gums. And the ancient mountain ranges are ever-present.

Strange conical hills in Harts Range, Binns Track.
Once into Harts Range, these strange conical ranges begin to appear.

Once you make your way over the Harts Range, you’re back onto wide open plains country. You’ll reach a T-intersection. Right takes you to the Stuart Highway. Turn left onto the gravel road to Hale River Homestead, where the ruins of Old Ambalindum Homestead lie quietly crumbling away.

Old Ambalindum Homestead on Binns Track.
The ruins of Old Ambalindum Homestead.

You can stay at Hale River Homestead. They provide cabins or camping, and great food! It’s a good spot to base yourself and have a good look around the area.

Moving on, you’ll encounter the ruins of Arltunga. This place was optimistically established during a gold rush in 1903. The gold rush ended and the town was abandoned.






Arltunga Historic Reserve preserves remnants of the old township and gold mining artefacts. There’s plenty of walks in the area. Take a moment to reflect on how difficult life must have been in this harsh country.

Ruins of the bakehouse at Arltunga, Binns Track.
The bakehouse at Arltunga. This was a wild town from all accounts!

Further down the track is a turnoff to Ruby Gap. A prospector mistook garnets for rubies in the Hale River and started a brief rush to the area. We didn’t have time to check out Ruby Gap. However, we’ve heard the track in is pretty rough, but well worth the effort. Next time!

As you move further South, the hills become mountains and Binns Track deteriorates as you climb over rocky crests. The track even follows dry creek beds at times! The scenery here is simply magnificent. The East MacDonnell Ranges begin to take shape and soon you’re surrounded by imposing mountains.

The imposing East MacDonnell Ranges, Binns Track.
Making our way through the East MacDonnell Ranges.

In the late afternoon, these ranges turn a deep red colour. Now you really are in the Red Centre!

Red rocky mountains on Binns Track.
The colours of the Red Centre…

Along The Ross Highway

Binns Track meets the Ross Highway near Ross River Resort. This place is cleverly tucked under the shadow of a mountain, providing shady respite from the heat.






If you’re heading to Alice Springs, take some time to visit N’Dhala Gorge, Trephina Gorge, John Hayes Rockhole, Corroboree Rock, Jessie Gap and Emily Gap.

And most of all, admire the beauty of the rugged and ancient East MacDonnell Ranges.

Walking into Trephina Gorge, Binns Track.
Trephina Gorge is the perfect spot to camp and stretch your legs.

In Summary

This section of Binns Track is truly spectacular. The landscape changes constantly, from flat plains to the rugged mountains of the East MacDonnell Ranges.

Take some time to explore this area. It really is full of surprises!

This section of Binns Track is on Arrernte Country.

 


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