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The MacDonnell Ranges, the craggy desert mountains that frame Alice Springs, are rich with desert landscapes and Aboriginal significance. The Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature Park, located in the Eastern MacDonnells, just 10 km (6 mi) east of Alice Springs along the Ross Highway, contains registered sacred Aboriginal sites, including rock paintings depicting the caterpillar story of the Dreamtime—the Aboriginal stories of the world's creation.
The Larapinta Trail is a 223-km-long (145-mi-long) walking track that runs west from Alice Springs into the Western MacDonnell Ranges. It's a spectacular, though challenging, track that takes hikers through classically rugged and dry central Australian landscape. Hikers are encouraged to participate in the voluntary Overnight Walker Registration Scheme, designed to ensure that all trekkers on the trail can be tracked and accounted for in case of emergency. Contact the Northern Territory Parks & Wildlife Service (08/8951-8250) for more information. Tourism Central Australia in Alice Springs (08/8952-5800) can also advise you if you're interested in planning bushwalking itineraries.
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