Chambers Pillar Historical Reserve
The main feature of this 340 hectare Reserve is the pillar of sandstone which towers 50 metres above the surrounding plain. The sandstone deposits were laid down in the area 350 million years ago. Since then, wind and rain have eroded away the softer material, leaving this solitary column of pebbly sandstone.
John McDouall Stuart, heading north on his earliest attempt to cross Australia, first recorded the pillar in April 1860 and named it after James Chambers, one of his South Australian sponsors.
Until the coming of the railway in the 1920's, the Pillar was to be a landmark in the desert on the long overland journey from Adelaide to Alice Springs. Many of those early travellers have left their record in the soft, white sandstone including John Ross and Alfred Giles both in 1870. More recently, a few visitors have added their names or graffiti to the rock face. This is illegal and unfortunate, and lessens the historical significance of the Reserve.
Chambers Pillar Historical Reserve lies 160km south of Alice Springs. To get there, travel along the Old South Road to a turnoff to the west at Maryvale Station (see map over-leaf). The road is unsealed and may be closed after heavy rain. After the Maryvale turnoff, 4WD is required.
In the Dreamtime it is said the Gecko ancestor Itirkawara (pronounced it-turk-kar-wara) left the Finke River and journeyed north eastward. As he travelled he grew into a huge and powerfully built man of superhuman strength and extreme violence of temper.
On the way home to his birth place he successfully challenged and killed, with his stone knife, a number of other unfortunate ancestors. Flushed with the ease of his successes he then disregarded the strict marriage code and took a wife from the wrong skin group. His enraged relatives promptly banished him and the girl.
The two retreated into the desert, Itirkawara raging in fury, the girl shrinking from him in deep shame. Among the dunes they became weary and turned into prominent rocky formations - Itirkawara into the Pillar, the girl, still turning her face away from him in shame, into Castle Rock to the northeast, about 500 metres away.
What To Do
Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory