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Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature Park

East MacDonnell National Park

Northern Territory, Australia Travel

Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature Park
Emily & Jessie Gaps

East MacDonnell
West MacDonnell

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View our range of Alice Springs, Uluru, Kata Tjuta, the Olgas, Kings Canyon and other tours. Many of the tours commence from Alice Springs, Ayers Rock and Darwin.

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Northern Territory Tours
Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature Park (East MacDonnell National Park)

With its gorge scenery and art site, both Emily and Jessie Gaps provide an interesting stop that is associated with the dreamtime story associated with the ‘Caterpillar Dreaming’ of the Central Arrernte Aboriginal people.

Anthwerrke, the Arrernte name for Emily Gap, is a traditional site of major importance. It is part of the storyline for the Three Caterpillars: Yeperenye, Ntyarlke and Utnerrengatye, which are ancestral beings for the Alice Springs area. Arrernte people conceived in Alice Springs consider themselves direct descendants of these Caterpillar ancestors.

There were three types of caterpillars. Some came from Mount Zeil, some came from Central Mount Stuart and some came from south on the Finke River1.

The Caterpillar story is recorded in a gallery of rock paintings within the gap.

The Three Caterpillars: Yeperenye, Ntyarlke and Utnerrengatye

The Three Caterpillars - Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature ParkThe Three Caterpillars
These stylised paintings on the rock face are of the caterpillars Yeperenye, Ntyarlke and Utnerrenbatye, who are beings of great significance for the Arrernte people. At this spot Intwailuka, an ancestral hero, is said to have cooked and eaten caterpillars on his Dreamtime journey.

Ochre and Lime
Red ochre and white lime were crushed into powder, mixed with animal fat and applied to the rock surface by the artist.

Protecting our Heritage
Each year these paintings become more fragile cue to the effects of heat, wind and rain. Even the light touch of a human hand speeds this process.

Help preserve the paintings by keeping behind the barrier.

Source: Park signage and Parks and Wildlife Service, Northern Territory

© AusEmade PL, April 2008

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Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature Park Other Info

Aboriginal (Arrernte) name: Ntyarlke
Common name for larvae: The Elephant Grub
Common name for adult stage: member of the Hawk Moth, Grapevine Hawk Moth, Vine Hawk Moth, , Silver-striped Hawk Moth
Scientific name: Hippotion celerio (Linnaeus)

Ntyarlke is a type of edible caterpillar that lives on the ulyawe (pigweed), though it is also found on tarvine, as well as some exotic plants such as Ruby Dock, Morning Glory and grape vine. It is recognised by the silver stripes on its side and a pair of large eyes located on the neck. By retracting the head, the eye spots move to the forward position and swell in size, a technique used to scare predators.
Aboriginal (Arrernte) name: Tyape Utnerrngatye
Common name for larvae: Emu Bush Grub, member of the Hawk moth
Common name for adult stage: member of the Hawk Moth
Scientific name: Coenotes eremophilae

Found on the weeping emu bush, the caterpillar is dotted with red and yellow stokes on the back and a single row of red spots along the sides. If disturbed, the caterpillar rears, smearing green liquid onto whoever is harassing them. Some will also drop from the bush onto the ground, when the bush is disturbed.
Aboriginal (Arrernte) name: Ayeperenye, Ayepe-arenye (yeperenye)
Common name for larvae: Tar Vine Caterpillar, Hawkmoth Caterpillar
Common name for adult stage: member of the Hawk Moth
Scientific name: Hyles livornicoides

An important food source found on the Tar Vine is the Hawkmoth caterpillar. This common caterpillar is green with a black stripe down its back and a distinctive spike at the end.


> Central Land Council (Northern Territory, Australia) - Our Land
> Australian Museum Online - Hawk Moths
> TaroPest - Hornworm - Hippotion celerio
> Hippotion celerio. (2008, March 2). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 05:58, April 20, 2008, from
> Information Sheets - Vine Hawk Moth (Terry F. Houston) - Western Australian Museum
> Coenotes eremophilae (T.P.Lucas, 1891)- Don Herbison-Evans & Stella Crossley
1 The Mparntwe Project - Larapinta Primary School: The Caterpillar’s Story
  Special thanks to Dr Max Moulds, Senior Research Fellow, Australian Museum and ANIC (Lepidoptera), CSIRO Entomology for confirmation of scientific names.
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