A guide to Iytwelepenty/ Davenport Ranges National Park

By Ken Eastwood 10 June 2021
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This national park is a secret gem of the Northern Territory and well worth adding to that must-visit list on your Top End road trip.

This secret is almost too good to share. Iytwelepenty/Davenport Ranges NP is just a couple of hours drive off the Stuart Highway, between Alice Springs and Tennant Creek. Its remoteness (you will need a four-wheel-drive), beautiful waterholes, campsites and abundant fauna make this 1120sq.km park one of the jewels of Central Australia. 

Just north of the Devils Marbles, the turn-off leads to a 50km drive along a well-graded dirt road to Kurundi Station, before another 18km of winding gravel takes you to the park turn-off. Birds, such as black-faced cuckoo shrikes, rainbow bee-eaters and budgerigars, flock here for the hidden pockets of waterholes. The
Davenport Ranges also attract a variety of animals because of the eclectic mix of vegetation – it’s the crossover between the plants of the Central Desert and more tropical species. 

Whistleduck Creek camping ground is relatively basic, but has essential amenities, and is about 1km from the first major waterhole, Irrmweng Rockhole. Just a few hundred metres further upstream is the divine (and deep) Injaidan Rockhole, with its rocky base. 

Jointly managed by traditional owners and the NT Parks and Wildlife Commission, the park is filled with sacred sites, artworks and special secret places still used for ceremonies. 

Old Police Station Waterhole, which the Alyawarre call Thethew, is the biggest waterhole in the park and is the starting point of the 17km Frew River Loop 4WD Track over the top of the ranges. The rugged drive takes almost two hours, but it’s certainly worth it, offering glorious views over the range country. From here you can see the green line of distant river red gums along the Frew joining together the park’s sparkling waterhole jewels like a necklace. Beyond, the spinifex lines the country as it stretches to a hazy horizon.

Devils Marbles, NT

Take the Binns Track

The 2230km Binns Track is a microcosm of the NT, taking 4WD tourers through the Territory’s contrasting landscapes. Starting in Mt Dare in SA, you will travel the edges of the northern Simpson Desert, through the gorge country of the East MacDonnell Ranges, before venturing north to the savannah plains surrounding Tennant Creek via a detour to Iytwelepenty/Davenport Ranges NP and the Devils Marbles, then finishing in the wild and remote tropical landscape of Judbarra/Gregory NP. It is simply brilliant.

Those without a 4WD don’t have to miss out on this amazing journey, either. Outback Spirit Tours offers a fantastic Binns Track adventure.

For full details, visit Outback Spirit.