West MacDonnell’s Tour with Alice Wanderer

I get picked by Clive with Alice Wanderer. This is his first tour with Alice though he’s been in the business over 20 years. The bus is a Toyota Coaster bus that seats 20 people. We have 12 people on The West MacDonnell’s tour today. Our first stop is just outside Alice Springs at John Flynn’s grave. John Flynn created the Royal Flying Doctors.  An aero medical health service for those who live, work or travel to outback or regional Australia.  The hill was too steep with loosely packed gravel I did not get off the bus. Clive gave me a short history then went up to the grave to give the rest of the group the history. We start heading to the West MacDonnell’s range that were named for the former Governor of South Australia. The first stop is Standley Chasm. Nowhere close to being accessible, very difficult gravel to wheel though in the parking lot. Can’t make it to the trail to hike to Standley Chasm because of how rugged it is. I’m regretting this tour at this point because I don’t know what the rest of the day holds. No way to make this trail wheelchair accessible.

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After the group returns from a 40 minute hike, we have morning tea and coffee. I ask Clive how the rest of the tour is and what I will be able to do/see. He is unsure what I will be able to do/see. He says “most of the places we’re going to visit throughout the day have paved paths or gravel and some hills.” After about a 1 hour drive we arrive at the Ochre Pits. The Ochre Pits where used by Aboriginal people for ochre pigments for medical purposes and painting.  It has paved walkway with only one slight hill down to the observation deck. Most of the group goes down to the pits but I can’t make it down the steps or have any chance of wheeling through the terrain to get a closer look. No way to make getting down for a closer look at the Ochre Pits accessible.

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Lunch is at Glen Helen Resort. The parking lot is gravel and difficult to wheel through. There is a ramp to the front entrance but it is a little steep. We sit on the back patio overlooking the Finke River, the oldest river in the world.  There is a walk way to the river and to the gorge but it is down several steps with difficult terrain to wheel through. Paving the parking lot to make it easier to wheel and a paved walkway to the river would let a wheelchair get close.  These improvements are probably not economical.

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After lunch we visit Ormiston Gorge. The pathway to the gorge is paved with a slight grade but it a little bumpy to wheel over.  There is sandy slop to get close to the water that is not accessible.  There is an accessible bathroom by the parking lot.

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We have about a 1hr 20min drive to our last stop, Simpsons Gap. Head net on, we make our way down to Simpsons Gap. I can only make it about 75 yards on the way to Simpsons Gap. It is packed red clay with some rocks to wheel around and a couple of slight grades. The last 50 yards are down steps then through sand so I am not able to make it all the way into Simpsons Gap.  Paving a walkway would make it easier for a wheelchair user.

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I would not recommend the West MacDonnell’s tour for someone in a wheelchair. Clive was a good guide but I’ve had some excellent guides and the bar was set very high.  This tour was not as good as other tours I’ve done.  I was not told about how inaccessible this tour was when booking.  If a wheelchair user is interested in this tour ask for a pricing discount since you can’t get to several parts of the tour.  A head net is recommended for anyone on this tour because the flies are really bad.  Most able body people would be able to do this tour but there is some hiking through rough terrain.  This tour is about 9-1/2 hours long.  Accessibility wise this tour would receive a 1.5/5 rating.

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