Alice Spring has a vantage location to access both East and West MacDonnell Ranges. Although the iconic feature around Alice Spring was publicly dubbed as Ayers Rock or Uluru, the countless chasms, waterholes and gorges hidden amid MacDonnell Ranges could easily compete with the red mighty rock located 450km west of Alice Spring.
Since Alice Spring is considered to be a small city as compared to other major cities in Australia, driving for less than 10 minutes will take you of out of the city border and you knew it when the population began to plummet, lesser civilisation observed and with the increasing growth of red hard rock enveloped you. From far, MacDonnell Ranges resembled a long brawny caterpillar with its jagged body spanning the vast land at least for hundred kilometres on both sides of Alice Spring .
Our first stop was Emily Gap. It was a small waterhole nicely filled with liquid the time we visited. This must have signified it rained the past few days over MacDonnell Ranges. The rock formation in the backdrop gave Emily Gap its look; unique slanting columns of deep red rock in disarray manner reminded the tumbling ‘Jenga’ frozen for a moment enhanced the sombre waterhole. Among these rocks, a set of petroglyphs namely "The Three Caterpillars" was painted on the cliff face at some point in time. The dark red and light orangey stripes were created by red ochre and white lime blended with animals fats and applied to the rock surface. These species of caterpillars are Yeperenye, Ntyarlke and Utnerrengatye, which represent great importance for the Arrernte people. It was told that an ancestral hero said to have consumed these caterpillars during this Dreamtime journey back then.
The surrounding was a sheer peace until the rustling shrubs caught our attention. The air was extremely still and definitely it was not the act of briskly wind. Thru our closer observation, the movement was coming from a couple of black-footed rock wallabies that used to frequent this area. They stood as still as statue when we spotted them. But as soon as we took a small step towards them, they turned around and leapt away. Based on our first encounter with them, the next time when we spotted any wallabies, we supposed there was a need to be conscious about our breathing and of course always stick your feet to the ground until you are satisfied with the pictures of these shy creatures loaded into your camera!
Before arriving at Trephina Gorge, we came to this turnout that almost led to nowhere. Hiding behind some desert bushes, a ghoulish white figure standing tall somehow startled us but a good one. Emergence of this figure was "Ghost Gum", which was rather a quintessential sight after we came across the first one. How the tree got its name was pretty obvious - the insanely white trunk painted itself against the insanely blue sky and stark landscape made good photographs.
Trephina Gorge was about 85 km east of Alice Spring renowned for its quartzite cliffs and is one of the two gorges that intersect MacDonnell Ranges. It was late in the afternoon when we arrived the gorge. As compared to Emily Gap, the cliff face at Trephina Gorge was almost neatly stacked in layers peering and admiring themselves like a vain little girl at the tranquil water surface. Due to the sun has then shifted from mid sky, the shafts of sunrays bounced off the cliff face giving it another tremendous glow.
A beautiful setting can sometimes bring us a bit of tragedy. On August 1998, Terry Michael Gill was killed around dusk when cruising his Harley Davidson (number plate was "Fish") five kilometres east of Ross River. The accident happened while he was viewing his rear mirror for his fellow biker when a wild camel roamed across the road and Terry crushed severely onto it. He was thrown out of his seat and spine likely to snap when hit against the number plate protruding out of the rear mudguard. If you were to drive along Ross River Highway, the partial mocked-up eye-catching orange Harley Davidson was on display with tyres detached. The foreground was scattered with empty beer bottles and cans perhaps to accompany the past Terry.