Follow the dreaming trail around Emily and Jessie Gaps in the East MacDonnell Ranges, following the Dreamtime caterpillars to large rock paintings.
Emily and Jessie Gaps are the first noticeable features of the East MacDonnell Ranges as you drive 10 kilometres out of Alice Springs. Pack a picnic, watch the local wildlife, or follow a short walking track into both gaps. At Emily Gap you can see a large rock painting depicting the caterpillar dreaming.
The two small gaps in the Heavitree Range are important spiritual sites to the Eastern Arrernte Aboriginal people. Many places in the surrounding landscape are associated with the same caterpillar Dreamtime story, and form a 'Dreaming Trail'. Emily Gap is a significant sacred site 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.
The first European sighting of Emily and Jessie Gap was in 1871. It was thought that the names Emily and Jessie were chosen after the daughters of Sir Charles Todd, but this was found to be untrue. The basis on which the names are derived is unknown.
The East MacDonnell Ranges Park is an easy 15-minute drive along the sealed Ross Highway.