Located within the East MacDonnell Ranges are Emily and Jessie Gaps; spiritual sites important to the Eastern Arrernte Aboriginal people. Visiting Emily and Jessie Gaps is a great way to experience the natural Australian landscape as well as Aboriginal history and culture. It’s an easy drive from Alice Springs in the Hertz rental car you picked up at the Alice Springs Airport Car Rental location.
Emily and Jessie Gaps are two small gaps in the Heavitree Range, part of the East MacDonnell Ranges. As you journey into the Range, Emily and Jessie Gaps are the first gaps you’ll come across. They are home to authentic Aboriginal art and are surrounded by stunning landscapes. Emily and Jessie Gaps, in addition to other landmarks in the surrounding landscape, are associated with the Caterpillar Dreamtime story and together form a ‘Dreaming Trail’. Emily Gap, is considered to be the most significant site, as this is where the caterpillar beings of Mparntwe (Alice Springs) originated. At Emily Gap you can view a large, Aboriginal rock painting depicting the Caterpillar Dreamtime story.
The reason the gaps are name ‘Emily’ and ‘Jessie’ remains unknown. Originally it was thought that Emily and Jessie were the names of the daughters of Sir Charles Todd, an astronomer and telegrapher of the 1800s. Sir Charles Todd’s wife Alice is where Alice Springs got its name from. However, this was later discovered to be untrue and the real origin of the names has never been uncovered.
In addition to taking in the stunning scenery, Jessie and Emily Gaps are a great place to eat a picnic, watch local wildlife and take a bushwalk. There’s a walking track leading into the Gaps as well through the surrounding areas.
If you decide to enjoy a picnic at Jessie and Emily Gaps, you’ll need to come prepared as there isn’t anywhere to buy food. There are, however, picnic tables and fire pits on site. At Emily Gap, you’ll find a large Aboriginal rock painting which depicts the caterpillar dreaming. There are also free ranger guided activities provided from May to September. For more information visit the Parks and Wildlife Life Commission NT website here.
Emily and Jessie Gaps are just 10 kilometres outside of Alice Springs and are easy to get to in your Hertz rental car. It’s just a short, fifteen minute drive in your hire car along Ross Highway which is a sealed road.
The park is open every day, all year round.