Nestled within the East MacDonnell Ranges a sacred Yeperenye Dreaming site is now home to the Yeperenye Trail built by traditional owners, just 10km from Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.
We drove out to Jesse Gap Trish was happy to be the support driver and I will walk back along the Yeperenye Trail to Emily Gap and then on to Alice Springs. Before setting off on the walk we spent some time exploring Jesse Gap
The Yeperenye Trail joins Jesse Gap and Emily Gap is an 8km trail opened in July 2021. More than 30 Eastern Arrernte traditional owners built the trail entirely by hand, following the natural contours of the landscape. “We did this trail for all of us here, for our young kids now and for our future generations.”
Emily and Jessie Gaps are small gaps in the Heavitree Range and are the first features you come to heading East from Alice Springs into the East MacDonnell Ranges. They contain interesting Aboriginal paintings and are important spiritual sites to the Eastern Arrernte Aboriginal people.
The Yeperenye Trail heads West from the Jesse Gap Car park
Many places in the landscape are associated with the same dreamtime story. Together these places form a
‘dreaming trail’. Emily and Jessie Gap are both associated with the caterpillar trail.
Emily Gap is probably the most significant, as this is where the caterpillar beings of Mparntwe (Alice Springs) originated. These caterpillars formed Emily Gap and many of the topographic features around Alice Springs, then radiated out to the edge of the Simpson Desert.
Emily Gap (Anthwerrke) is a registered sacred site. A large rock painting depicts the caterpillar dreaming.
After walking the trail my plan was to continue on from Emily Gap to Alice Springs along the top of the range.
I found the way to climb up and began the climb which became very steep. I have done some hot weather and tropical hiking so while climbing I was recalculating the distance, temperature (increasing to 39 deg), the remaining hike was not on a formed track with rough rocky ground v’s the amount of water I had left. Just as I reached the top I concluded that I had insufficient water to continue. Why didn’t I work this out at the bottom!!
Emily Gap – Alice Springs NT Emily Gap – Alice Springs NT Climbing up near Emily Gap
There was a decent phone signal at the top so I gave the support driver a call, and Trish was soon on her way out to pick me up. I retraced my steps (Ha Ha) on my back side and inched my way back down the gap in the cliff edge.
Trish arrived well before I reached the bottom
But the story does not end here. Late in the afternoon I discovered my wallet was missing. I did not take long to work out that it must have been pushed out of my pocket coming off the top of the range while sliding down on my backside. When hiking I always keep my wallet safe in a zippered pocket and the one day you don’t!!!
So it was back out to Emily Gap and another climb to near the top al lo and behold, my wallet.
The Yeperenye Trail is in the Yeperenye / Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature Park. The trail follows the contours of the East McDonnell Range between Emily and Jessie Gaps. It is an easy, undulating trail on a hard-packed dirt surface with some minor stones. There is very little shade available, so take sufficient drinking water, and the flies can be a challenge.
Apart from the attractions of Emily and Jessie Gaps at each end, the walk allows a reasonably close up look at the rock formations of the East McDonnell Range and views over the lower areas to the south. If the return walk is too long, arrange a vehicle pickup as I did at the relevant Gap Carpark and make it an 8km point to point walk.