Mpwelarre, near Rainbow Valley

Mpwelarre, near Rainbow Valley

Mpwelarre is a small Aboriginal outstation about 30km north west of the iconic tourist destination, Rainbow Valley, south of Alice. Unlike the sad images of outstations we see on TV Mpwelarre is much loved and tendered by its owners. There are productive gardens, domestic animals, including camels, functional infrastructure and a general sense of security, industry and well being. The name Mpwelarre means ‘rainbow’ in the Southern Arrente dialect.

The campsite at Mpwelare is quite separate from the outstation and adjacent to a magnificent rock formation. It is a sacred site important for the rainmaking stories embodied in some very curious geological features. In recent years we have developed a strong connection with Margaret Orr, the traditional owner of the site, her husband Malcolm and son Ricky who conducts cultural tours through a traditional occupation area behind Rainbow Valley. The Orr family has much to share with us about the history of this area, its cultural significance, its fauna, flora, bush medicine and abundant evidence of the traditional way of life of southern Arrente people.

For artists, photographers and writers this place is rich in its colourful terrain, its sculptural rock formations and its cultural heritage.  It is set amidst beautiful red sand and spinifex country with stands of desert oaks and rugged cliffs.  The campsite has a toilet and shower cubicle so it’s a step up in luxury from our usual ‘bush’ camp. It is indeed a privilege to be at this remote and sacred place with only the local family and their camels as visitors.

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