Rocky Arid Zone Ranges
The misperception that the "Red Centre" is a flat sandplain stretching to the horizon and broken only by sand dunes is refuted by extensive rocky ranges in the southern NT. The MacDonnell Ranges run west and east of Alice Springs, the Davenport and Murchison Ranges lie north, the Harts and Dulcie Ranges are north-east, the James and Waterhouse Ranges are to the south, the Krichauff, George Gill and Gardiner Ranges are in the south-west and the Petermann Ranges are to the far south-west. There are numerous other smaller ranges scattered throughout the region.
The Davenport-Murcheson and ranges south of Alice Springs support low-open Eucalyptus woodland and Acacia sparse -shrubland over Triodia spicata and localised patches of T. pungens. The Dulcie Range communities include Eucalyptus open-woodlands and Acacia shrublands over T. pungens. Sheltered escarpments and steep rocky gorges embrace native Cypress trees Callitris glaucaphylla and Ghost Gums (Eucalyptus papuana) with an understorey of sparse shrubland, tussock grasses and T. pungens.
In the Harts Range, Corkwood (Hakea suberea), Cypress, Witchety Bush (Acacia kempeana) and Mulga (A. Aneura) form the upper stratum over mixed shrubs with grasses and herbs dominating the more rugged areas. Lower lying hills have a T. clelandii hummock grassland with emergent Ghost Gums with Bloodwood (E. opaca) and A. ligulata in the mid stratum.
The MacDonnell Ranges stretch longitudinally across central Australia for some 300 km with Alice Springs at the midpoint. The Krichauff Range, south of the western extent of the MacDonnell Ranges, and the James Range, 60 km south of Alice Springs, are dominated by T.clelandii hummock grasslands with mixed species low-open woodland overstorey.
Petermann Ranges, Cleland Hills and Cental Mount Wedge are dominated by Spinifex hummock grasslands, mostly T. spicata with T. hubbardii in localised areas in the north, with Holly Grevillea Grevillea wickhamii and Acacias in the sparse shrub layer. Scattered Eucalypts are also often present.
The rocky ranges are dotted with springs and rockholes , particularly in sheltered gorges. Some of these waters are permanent and support rare and/or relict plant and animal species. Giles Yard Spring in the West MacDonnell Ranges is a fine example of a permanent spring fed creek with several rockholes along its course, 9 significant plant taxa are recorded from this location.
Presence in conservation areas
Annas Reservoir, Arltunga, Davenport Murchison, Devils Marbles, Dulcie Ranges National Park, Finke Gorge National Park, N'Dhala Gorge, Trephina Gorge, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Watarrka National Park, West MacDonnell National Park.
Major threats to wildlife in range country are the impact of large feral herbivores, the invasion of introduced plants and the change in the fire regime from increased fuel loads as a result of the spread of buffel grass Cenchrus ciliaris.
- Gibson, D.F., Kube, P.D., Ginns, A.J., Cole, J.R. and Parsons, D.J. 1989. A Resource Survey of the Dulcie Range, Northern Territory. Alice Springs: Conservation Commission of the NT.
- White, M., Albrecht, D., Duguid, A., Latz, P. and Hamilton, M. 2000. Plant Species and Sites of Botanical Significance in the Southern Bioregions of the Northern Territory Vol 2: Significant Sites. Alice Springs: Arid Lands Environment Centre.
- Wilson, B.A., Brocklehurst, P.S., Clark, M.J. and Dickinson, K.J.M. 1990. Vegetation Survey of the Northern Territory. Technical Report No 49. Darwin: Conservation Commission of the NT.