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Finke, Northern Territory

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Finke Gorge National Park, 140 kilometres west of Alice Springs, covers an area of 46,000 hectares, and includes the striking desert oasis Palm Valley, home to a diverse range of plant species, many of which are rare and unique to the area. The Red Cabbage Palm is found only in Palm Valley. The Finke River is claimed to be one of the oldest in the world, with areas dating back 350 million years. The park and nearby areas hold cultural significance to the western Arrernte Aboriginal people and there is also evidence of early European settlement. A popular four-wheel-drive route down the Finke River to Illamurta Springs and Watarrka National Park begins at Finke Gorge. Bush walking is another popular activity. Kalaranga lookout is an easy 20 minute climb, with spectacular views of the rock amphitheatre encircled by rugged cliffs. The Mpaara Walk introduces the mythology of the Western Arrernte Aboriginal culture. In Palm Valley, the Arankaia Walk and the longer Mpulungkinya Walk meander among lush, slender palms, returning across a scenic plateau.

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