This 3-mile-wide bowl in the middle of the vast flatness of Central Australia is a an unexpected sight. More than 140 million years ago, a comet or asteroid hit the surface of the earth in the Red Centre, creating a giant impact crater. Travelling the unsealed Mareenie Loop from Alice Springs to Kings Canyon, you can see the remnants of what must have been a jolt of unimaginable scale.
The Gosse Bluff crater (also called Gosses Bluff) is an impressive sight from afar. It is best seen from Tylers Pass, on Namatjira Drive. Once inside the crater, its size and shape lose their effects. Erosion over the years has reduced its range not only horizontally but also vertically. Today, the crater’s 3-mile diameter is significantly smaller than the original size, and the hole is less deep.
Nonetheless, this site has an important cultural significance for the local Aboriginal people. Located within the Tnorala Conservation Reserve, the bluff is a registered sacred site but its traditional owners, the Arrernte people, accept visitors. There are two marked paths that bring the visitors to get a closer look at the crater’s surface and some vantage points.
Know Before You Go
A 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended for the last 10km of the drive, as the road is sandy. From Alice Springs, take the Namatjira Drive (198km) or Larapinta Drive (187km) to the west. Both roads are sealed up to the turnoff for the bluff.