Tnorala - Places to Visit - The West Macs

Tnorala (Gosse Bluff) is a place of great cultural significance to the Western Arrarnta Aboriginal people, as well as great interest to international scientific community. According to the Arrarnta people, Tnorala was formed by an accident that occurred when a group of women danced across the skies. One of them put her baby down in its carrier so she could continue to dance. Unfortunately, the baby fell, and the carrier struck the Earth, where it was transformed into the rock walls of Tnorala. Visitors to this spectacular site should bear in mind its great cultural meaning and be sensitive to the wishes of its traditional owners. Access is limited to four wheel drive vehicles only.

Tnorala (Gosse Bluff) Conservation Reserve

Tnorala (Gosse Bluff) Conservation Reserve is a place of great cultural significance to the Western Arrarnta Aboriginal people, as well as one of international scientific interest.

The Reserve is a registered sacred site and traditional owners welcome visitors to experience Tnorala's magic, but ask you to respect the area and obey signs where access is not permitted.

According to Aboriginal belief, Tnorala was formed in the creation time, when a group of women danced across the sky as the Milky Way. During this dance, a mother put her baby aside, resting in it's wooden baby-carrier (a turna). The carrier toppled over the edge of the dancing area and crashed to earth where it was transformed into the circular rock walls of Tnorala.

The Aboriginal and scientific interpretation of the Bluff are similar in that both have a celestial origin.

Around 142.5 million years ago an object from space, believed to be a comet about 600 metres across, crashed to earth, blasting a crater some 20km across. Today's land surface is about 2km lower than the original impact surface and the bluff is about 5km in diameter, reduced over time by erosion.

The remnant crater was named Gosse's Range by the explorer Ernest Giles in 1872 after H. Gosse, a fellow of the Royal Society.

Title for the Reserve was granted to traditional owners and is now jointly managed with the Parks and Wildlife Service of the Northern Territory.


Key features:

  • The scenic crater remnant
  • The local Arrarnta stories associated with the site
  • The short drive into the reserve travels over deep, red sand country - a habitat that is unique on this journey and is only found further south around Watarrka (Kings Canyon).
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