Camping At Ellery Creek Big Hole

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Written By Jay Clatworthy

Off Grid Camping contributor.

Camping At Ellery Creek Big Hole

The Ellery Creek Big Hole is one of the many natural attractions near Alice Springs. Sometimes referred to as the Alice Springs Swimming Pool, it is a great place for a day trip and camping overnight.

Getting There

Ellery Creek Big Hole can be found 90kms west of Alice Springs on Namatjira Drive.

If there has been a lot of rain then some parts of the road might be flooded and only accessible with a 4WD (maybe not even with a 4WD after a big rain!), but most of the year you should get through with any vehicle.

The road is fully sealed until you get to the Ellery Creek Big Hole turn-off. From the turn off until the car park it is a well maintained but unsealed road. After turning off Namatjira Drive, it is about 2km to the campsite and car park.

At the end of the 2km track are the campground and car park, connecting to the short path that takes you to the water.

At the car park, there are a variety of facilities you can access including shade, shelter, tables, and toilets. The grounds are very well set up.

Camping At Ellery Creek Big Hole
Camping At Ellery Creek Big Hole

Ellery Creek Big Hole

From the campsite and car park, it’s about 200m to the water hole. The path is paved all the way, so is wheelchair accessible. Once you get to the bottom of the track the beautiful Ellery Creek Big Hole Presents itself.

Camping At Ellery Creek Big Hole
Camping At Ellery Creek Big Hole
Camping At Ellery Creek Big Hole

Swimming

Swimming is allowed and encouraged at Ellery Creek Big Hole, but caution must be taken. The water is very deep and can be very cold in the winter months.

There are multiple confirmed drownings here and though that doesn’t need to deter you from swimming, it should encourage you to take proper precautions.

If you have any kind of floatation device (inflatable donut, pool noodle, etc) that will help you explore the water hole safely and get the most out of your visit.

We didn’t have any floatation aids when we were there, and it restricted how far we could go and what we could safely explore. After being warned how cold the water was, I was pleasantly surprised

The water level does fluctuate with the weather, so the water level you see may be different from the picture above, and other pictures.

The picture above was taken in February, soon after a significant downpour.

Given the fluctuation, you can never be certain what might be below the surface (logs/rocks, etc) so do not dive in headfirst and move around carefully.

See the NT government brochure for more information.

Walking and Hiking

Aside from the Ellery Creek Walk from the car park to the water hole, there are numerous different walks you can embark on from Ellery Creek.

The Ellery Creek Loop Walk is an option for advanced and prepared hikers. It is approximately 32kms and is usually done over three days.

This loop connects in with Sections 6 and 7 of the much larger Larapinta trail and is an amazing experience if you have the time, inclination, and supplies.

But for those who want a smaller day hike than the Dolomite Walk is a 3km loop that takes about 1.5 hours to complete. The path is unsealed and has some steep inclines but should be manageable for most walkers.

If you do end up going for a long walk make sure you follow the relevant advice about notifying people of your plans, where you are going, and when you expect to be back.

Camping at Ellery Creek Big Hole

Ellery Creek Big Hole has been well set up for campers, with a good number of sites and facilities available.

Camp Sites

There are 10 sites available, and they are accessed on a first-come-first-serve basis. During the summer they are often available (given the hot weather).

However over the busy season (May-September) they are very popular and you need to get there early in order to secure a spot.

The sites are designed to fit a car plus your caravan/camper/tent, roughly a double bay-wide.

The majority of the sites surround a common area (seen in the above picture) that includes a range of fire pits, tables, free barbecues, and shelters. There are all available for all campers and not tied to s specific site.

Camping Fees

Ellery Creek Big Hole is not a free campsite, and fees are required to be paid upon arrival.

The Northern Territory government has classified it as a Category B type campsite, meaning fees are:

  • $3.30 per adult
  • $1.65 per child (5 to 15 years)
  • $7.70 per family (2 adults and 4 children)

Reference: https://nt.gov.au/leisure/parks-reserves/camping/fees

Facilities

Category B campsites in the Northern Territory typically include toilets, barbecues, tap water, and tables, and that is true of Ellery Creek.

The facilities are clean, functional, and well maintained.

Drinking Water

There is a water tank set up at Ellery Creek Big Hole for campers and hikers to utilize for drinking, but they ask you to use it conservatively. Primarily to ensure hikers have access to sufficient water they stop at Ellery Creek, as part of a much longer hike.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make reservations for Ellery Creek Camp Sites?

No. Campsites at Ellery Creek Big Hole cannot be booked.

They are available on a first-in basis. In summer you should get a site without too much worry, but in the winter months it is very busy and you need to get there very early to give yourself the best chance.

Are there toilets at Ellery Creek Big Hole?

Yes. Adjoining the camping area is a large toilet facility that can be accessed by day visitors, hikers, and campers.

Is it safe to swim at Ellery Creek Big Hole?

Swimming is allowed and encouraged and it is a very popular swimming spot for locals and tourists alike. However, there have been incidents in the past of people drowning so you should be very careful when swimming.

Don’t dive or jump in, and take a pool noodle or something with you if you can. The water is very deep and can be very cold in winter, which can trigger hypothermia.

What’s the best time of year to go to Ellery Creek Big Hole?

Ellery Creek Big Hole can be accessed any time of year (assuming the roads are not flooded). Swimming is better in summer as the water is not so cold, but camping is better between May-June, as the weather is not as hot!

However these are the busier months though, so there are likely to be more people there during the winter months.