Written by Clovery on 23 Mar, 2010
After the stars gazing night at Kings Canyon, we were looking forward to our first foray to the iconic feature of Alice Spring, Ayers Rock. Definitely, we had viewed a thousand times of the rock images from magazines, travel brochures, television programs and other shrewd…Read More
After the stars gazing night at Kings Canyon, we were looking forward to our first foray to the iconic feature of Alice Spring, Ayers Rock. Definitely, we had viewed a thousand times of the rock images from magazines, travel brochures, television programs and other shrewd media advertising skills. But confronting the rock personally was far more than these.Driving south along Luritja Road and then Lasseter Highway, we past Curtis Spring and finally Ayers Rock Resort. The size and structure of the resort was pretty overwhelming. Because Ayers Rock is a top tourist attraction in Alice Spring, the resort is simply opulence considered the location to be Outback.We did not spend too much time within the resort. Instead after checking-in to our room, we drove straight to Ayers Rock. My hand watch was reading 5pm and was very close to sun setting. Each day, there are two golden hours to view Uluru at its best; setting and rising of the sun. During this time, Uluru seems to be wearing layers of clothing in color scheme of red and orange. As each minute passes, the rock gradually stripped the layers changing the façade into flaring yellowish-orange, tremendous orange and outrageous red.Before an hour the sun skirted off the horizon, the viewing area to Uluru were packed with crowds. It was an unanimous gesture with everyone setting up their cameras mounted on the tripods directing at the mighty rock, a binocular strapped over the neck riveting at the mighty rock through the lens or standing patiently waiting for the precious moment to arrive to witnessing the might rock changes its hues.Half hour later, the area was overwhelmingly teemed with cameras clicking and flash lights exploding. For a couple of minutes, Uluru was bathed in iridescent crimson red as if someone had splashed tons of red paint onto it. Later, the intensity was reduced to unappealing orange as the expanse sky in the backdrop was slashed in bands of pink and purple, the antitwilight arch slowly emerged and extended roughly 10° - 20° above the horizon. With twilight progressed, the colossal rock somehow lost within our sight as the arch faded and concluded the day. To us, it a spectacular event but to nature, it has been a mediocre cycle occurring days before, months before and years before!In the following day, we drove back to Uluru from Ayers Rock Resort. It was a short drive of 20km. This time round, instead of appreciating the changing hues of the rock, we embraced our strength and energy to make the strenuous scaling to top of Uluru, which we considered to be one of our most arduous treks. Although the climb to summit of this monolith is only 348m, the steep elevation, rocky surface, sporadically whipping wind and blistering sun exacerbated the ascend.Before the climb, we explored the base of the monolith. The circumference of the base was equivalent to 2 hours on average pace. It was an early morning, there was hardly anyone and the parking space was abundant. Lingering around us was the silence and suspense air. We sauntered to Mutitjulu waterhole. With closer scrutiny on the rock wall, we found some petroglyphs left behind by the aboriginals, an evidence to their abode in this region back in the early days as well as their territory presently.The short walk to Mutitjulu waterhole embarked our next arduous ascend to Uluru summit. Standing at the starting point, it was already intimidating and daunting; the endless steep elevation, the uneven surface, the sky was inching closer to the mid sky and of course the summit of Uluru was not within our sight. It seemed like an insurmountable task, it was like appointing a person to find a needle in the haystacks but you never hint the person which haystack to look into.From the base of Uluru to the hand railing located about 100 metres farther or so, we saw some people who surrendered amicably to the steep scaling! They took a few snaps of photos and relinquished to the climb before even commencing. It was very likely the part where hand railing was constructed to sustain the climb is the steepest. There was only hand railing running at the length of 80-100 metres to buttress the climb, with ascending explorers on the left and descending achievers or half-hearted walkers on the right from starting point perspective. Stomping footprints for the past decades had etched a neat scar by fading the reddish hue from the façade of the rock, especially where the railing was located simply most trekkers gave up around this corner, it could easily be spotted from far, a light orange line stretching across the rock face.As we ascended higher, the view of the parked vehicles down below became smaller than to a gnat and ultimately well-hidden behind the rock itself as the contour changes. When we got to a point, the hand railing disappeared altogether and was replaced by dotted white line the only guidance to the summit of Uluru.We heard stories about the high wind area when trekking up the summit and it once blew man-sized away! During any blustery day, it was suggested not to attempt the climb or stoop low if high speed wind was encountered.Intermittently, we respite to admire the view that offered. Mt Olgas, another colossal rock that punctuated the desert plain, in distance could be easily appreciated blessed with its size and distinct shape. In other directions, Mt Connor perching 89km could be observed as well as Mt Everard as far as 144km! It was radically a clear day, hardly any heavy particles that blurred our vision, everything seems to be just right before our eyes.After several thoughts on giving up on the climb and wincing on aching legs, we finally made to the Summit Cairns of Uluru. Although the view at the summit unveiled almost the same sight as what we had encountered during the climb, the achievement and satisfaction was never the same. I burst into laughter with a long relief, muscles no longer flexed and tension already gone. Deep inhaling of the fragrance air somehow added by my own complacent until the next question hit me like a baseball bat, "Dude, you do know we still have to get down?" Close
It was another fresh start from Alice Spring. We stayed in the same accommodation, Alice Spring Backpacker Lodge, as we did 2 days before. The lodge consists of a couple of old trailers nicely converted into rooms, a small pool, communal kitchen, laundry and shower/bathrooms.…Read More
It was another fresh start from Alice Spring. We stayed in the same accommodation, Alice Spring Backpacker Lodge, as we did 2 days before. The lodge consists of a couple of old trailers nicely converted into rooms, a small pool, communal kitchen, laundry and shower/bathrooms. It also has a small but cosy entertainment area for watching television with limited movies and free internet service. There was a cork board pinned with exciting travel deals or even single looking for travel companion(s). If you were traveling alone or in the same direction, you might want to check this out and adopt new ‘friends’ for your trip!Before the start of our exploration, we knew it was going to be another long exhausting day. We had to drive from Alice Spring to Watarrka National Park or preferably known as Kings Canyon that was roughly located 227km southwest of Alice Spring. From Alice Spring, we drove along Stuart Highway until we came to an intersection with road sign pointing to Rainbow Valley in the east. The road leading to Rainbow Valley is about another 20km on dirt road each way and would be necessary to drive back where you came from in order to get back to Stuart Highway. Other tracks around this area are all private.In the morning, we anointed plenty of sunscreen but seemed to have worn thin and could no longer feel the greasy sensation on our skin. Perhaps it was the intense sunray that made us perspired frantically and accelerated us to wipe away the sweat.There was a gate before entering Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve. This was public access and the barrier was setup to prevent wild animals roaming into the reserve. Rainbow Valley was a multicolour sandstone outcrop protruding magnificently tall above the desert plain. Perched in front of this reddish-orangey cliff was a large claypan waterhole. Usually after rains, the inundated claypan made flaring reflection of the outcrop and during dry season the outcrop still hold an impressive isolation. There was a short trail around Rainbow Valley to view Mushroom Rock that again make a good postcard.We spent around half hour in Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve before heading back to Stuart Highway. Driving south along Stuart Highway towards Adelaide direction, another dirt track branched out from the highway, Ernest Giles Road prompting the direction to Henbury Meteorite as well as Watarrka National Park 150km in the west. Ernest Giles Road and also the dirt road to Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve are unkind to conventional car so it is advisable to drive a 4WD in case of any unforeseeable road condition that might thwart your travel plan.Around 4,700 years ago, an unprecedented event happened. A meteor traveling at a breakneck speed of 40,000km per hour slammed onto the Earth’s surface i.e. 130km south of Alice Spring. The meteor consisted mostly iron and nickel. The debris spilled from this meteor in the end formed 12 craters. Through times, weathering and erosion had downsized these craters into presently the largest at only 180 metres wide and 15 metres deep and the smallest one is hardly recognizable. One of the craters was aptly named as "The Water Crater" due to the meteor coincidentally hit into a drainage system that then constantly fills with water after rain, which resulted growth of dense vegetation inside the crater.Laziness, like greediness, is part of human instinct. Instead of driving back to Stuart Highway then turning westward to Lasseter Highway and then north to Luritja Road all paved road, we chose to take the shorter route i.e. to go along 90km of dusty graveled Ernest Giles Road and ultimately to Watarrka National Park. From the map, the long way round was like a U-shaped detour and the shorter route similar to crow flies. Naturally, most people will opt the latter option.The 90km dusted track was far grueling than what we believed. Sporadically, the track was strewn with potholes, sometimes dry-up gullies and mostly large pieces of rock fragments that jerked and jolted the car madly. The incessant noises created by the contact between the wheels of the car and the rough track was almost unbearable and it lasted for nearly 2 hours! No matter how much we dial up the volume of the car stereo, it only felt the music was playing in the background and the annoying noise was the key player. As we got to the end of Ernest Giles Road, peace finally prevailed. Our X-trail had suffered from countless scratches as well due to rock debris flying all over the place. Luckily, we had full coverage insurance for our rented car, which relieved me a bit.By the time we arrived Kings Canyon part of Watarrka National Park, it was around 2pm. We still had suffice time to attempt the Kings Rim circuit walk that took around 3-4 hours before sunset. The trailhead at Kings Rim walk was a tad intimating. We were first welcomed by steep ascend led by a series of switchbacks that gradually lost into the cliff face adorned with dense vegetation. As scaled higher, the view was transformed into deep canyons and expanse of desert landscape in the distance. As we inched closer to the edge of the canyon, King North Wall materialized like a colossal piece of painting hanging right opposite from where we stood separated by the deep chasm below. The façade of the sandstone canyon impressively made up of coloration mainly rusty orange and again blazing red when the sun threw light upon it. Layers of sandstone could be easily spotted without much observation; the top layer was made up of Mereenie sandstone dated back 70 to 330 million years old while the bottom layer consisted of Carmichael sandstone dated back as long as 440 million years ago.The edge of King North Wall Lookout was unfenced. Fragile sandstone could crumbled off the edge of the canyon anytime. In order to grasp of view the canyon floor, we lie down on our belly and kept pretty much still because of the vertical drop right beneath us. We could almost sense the friable rock along the edge when we gripped on to it. A few chunks of debris went free dropping as we brushed against the edge.The view through my binocular revealed the other side of people perching near the edge of King North Wall who were riveting at our direction. At first, we thought they were just appreciating the view the canyon has offered. Until we got to the other side of the canyon, we then realized the spot where we were standing was the King South Wall, quite similar to King North Wall but embezzled with a white patch caused by weathering and eventually breaking off a massive chunk of sandstone took place around 80 years ago.Continuing with our exploration from King North Wall lookout, we scrutinized the path we were taking. Fossilized rock motif of ripples, close resemblance of a piece of sizzling steak grilled on a griller, were quite common along the way. About 400 million years ago, the last waves from Devonian lake had created these ripples before the lake dried out. With times, the river bed was uplifted by Pertnjara movement and become the present George Gill Range. We kept walking until we came to the end of the southern side canyon. Leading down to the base of the gorge was assisted by wooden stairwell and platforms. Upper narrow gorge was essential to the formation of "Garden of Eden" for it provide shade and retain water lead to the flourishing of 578 plant species with 10% rare or relict ones with 5 species can only be found in Kings Canyon!The least exhausting way or perhaps the only way to get from southern to northern canyon is crossing the brawny wooden bridge spanning above Garden of Eden. Standing on the wooden bridge, the river meanders right below cutting the gorge was amazingly tranquil. It was an extremely hot day, callous sunray beating down ceaselessly. There was a few group of tourists eagerly to drench their bodies by jumping into the river.When we got to the northern side of the canyon, another marvellous view unveiled to an amphitheatre of beehive rocks or dubbed "The Lost City". These bear the reminiscence of rock formation found in Purnululu National Park or Bungle Bungle Range near Kimberley, Western Australia. It was said that if you did not have a chance to go to Kimberley, why not just go to Kings Canyon and view the mini Purnululu? Close
Before break of dawn, we loaded our belongings into the car boot. In the previous night, we pre-ordered some sandwiches from Glen Helen Homestead restaurant for brekkie as it only started serving after 7am. The owners were thoughtful to have woke up earlier than usual…Read More
Before break of dawn, we loaded our belongings into the car boot. In the previous night, we pre-ordered some sandwiches from Glen Helen Homestead restaurant for brekkie as it only started serving after 7am. The owners were thoughtful to have woke up earlier than usual to prepare our breakfast. All good things come to an end. As our X-trail inched farther away from the homestead, I could not help bidding goodbye and telling myself "Hasta la vista, Glen Helen".The start of Namatjira Road at Glen Helen towards Tyler’s Pass and Gosse Bluff did not look promising at all. It seemed like someone had stripped the bitumen road last night and turned it into a red dusted track. Fortunately, this region usually runs short of annual precipitation, otherwise the road might be impassable even on 4WD. Our eyes fixated on the local map and it required another 60km of butt-cracking slow drive before reaching Mereenie Loop (a turnout to Watarrka National Park). In order to access Mereenie Loop, permit was required and to be obtained in advance as this site belong to the aboriginal. When applying for the permit, it was required to have the car registration information handy. However, as ours was a rented car, we dropped the idea of entering Mereenie Loop. (Alternative way to Watarrka National park will be mention in later part of this journal.) We studied the map again and we might have to drive for another 70km of corrugated track before reaching Hermannsburg!The gruelling drive was ultimately paid-off when we stopped by at Tyler’s Pass to have our cold sandwiches from Glen Helen this morning. It was the best spot captured the panoramic view of Tnorala/Gosse Bluff Conservation Reserve. About 142 million years ago, a gargantuan comet collided Central Australia, leaving a deep scar behind that was known as Gosse Bluff presently. With time, surface of the crater was sculpted and chiselled by water agent until the original bed of the crater is now 2km below the surface.As we entered Tnorala site, it resembled a bowl, a bowl that was filled with short pointed shrubs. Looking around us, it was like standing on a piece of pristine land untouched by civilization, extremely quiet and only crater walls that may crumbled at any point in time.When you were in Australia Outback, never set your expectation too high whenever you came across bolded capital letters on the map that usually signified a town. "HERMANNSBURG" was a far cry from a town. It has an aboriginal community a mere population of 500, a school mostly attended by aboriginal children, Lutheran church and a dilapidated general store. Nonetheless, Hermannsburg was the gateway to Finke National Park where Palm Valley dominated the desolate landscape.Perhaps with the existence of Red Cabbage Palm at the desert oasis Palm Valley, it somehow disparaged another iconic feature of Finke National Park; Finke River that is claimed to be one of the oldest river in the world dated as old as 350 million years ago! During good times, rains plummet from the skies, inundating the claypans, filling the gaps between canyons and turning cauterized plains into raging rivers. The rain water and crucially the underneath fossil water bolster the continuous growth of the Red Cabbage Palms, which made it the most gorgeous oasis lying in the midst of Finke National Park.The route from Hermannsburg to Palm Valley and farther deep into Finke National Park then Illamurta Spring is strictly a 4WD and advised to be driven by experienced drivers. Not only the road condition was corrugated, scattered with potholes or boulders strewn the way, it is inescapable for cars to cross part of the tributaries of Finke River and at certain point water level could be around knee-high or slightly above.Before crossing the river, we encountered several wildlife like camels, horses and emus. It was an interesting moment to view them through the windows of our X-trail when we realized we were neither in an open plain zoo or Safari. As our X-trail cruised along the cauterized track, we were blinded by a patch of reflective object materializing about 0.5km ahead of us. And it was when we realized we were about to attempt the river-crossing.We killed the car engine and halted just nicely before the tributary. Picking some pebbles, we tossed them into the water at different distance to test the level. The depth of the tributary appeared to be shallow but deep enough to stall a regular sedan or 2WD. From what we estimated, the length of the tributary we needed to cross is about 1km before turning out onto land. The water level might vary and you would never know unless traversing it and so we appointed nature to manipulate our luck!"Are you ready?", my hubby stared at me as he started the engine. "Sort of", I replied doubtfully. I was thinking the worst case got be the car stuck in the middle of the river and we just had to wait for someone to tow our car out (if there was someone in the park!). Or maybe the next few days, there would definitely be someone touring the park?As the wheels of our X-trail came in contact with the water, my heart somehow stopped beating for a moment. My hands clenched into balls and beads of sweat started forming. My mouth was dry and I kept staring outside the window praying hard that we could come to an end of this whole thing soon. As we drove along, I could slowly feel the wheels submerging more into the water than before as our car somehow felt heavier, water started to splatter aggressively against the windscreens and making a deafening sloshing noise. After driving for 5 to 10 minutes, our confidence got higher when another similar 4WD emerged in front of us. It was something out of our expectation as we did not expect to meet a soul there. If it could survive the ordeal, so could ours. It was then I became more assured and settled that instigate myself to start taking pictures and videos of us ‘riding’ on the water.When we passed the tributary onto the land, we encountered some difficulties of the track; either blocked by boulders or was carved by depressions. We surveyed the track for a moment and came to a conclusion that detour might be required. Our X-trail finally arrived safely at the trailhead of Palm Valley. From where we stood, ubiquitous Red Cabbage Palm were towering high impressing themselves even more against the deep blue sky emptied of clouds and stretching along the wall of crimson red cliff face, That night ended well at Alice Spring as we drove from Palm Valley for 180km. It was a blissful night after all; our car did not stalled in the middle of Finke River, we witness the stunning oasis and most importantly we were back in one piece! Close
You may like to ask what are the differences between West and East MacDonnell Ranges apart from the geographical position? In my opinion, I would say there are more attractions in the western as compared to eastern that instigate more trail walks to be accomplished.…Read More
You may like to ask what are the differences between West and East MacDonnell Ranges apart from the geographical position? In my opinion, I would say there are more attractions in the western as compared to eastern that instigate more trail walks to be accomplished. One of the most prominent walks in Australia can be found here - Larapinta Trail. It was a long distance trekking divided into 12 sections and each of these took about 1 to 2 days. If time is a restriction for anyone, which is usually the case, part of the trail can be attempted by driving straight to any trailhead and spent hours to admire the gorges and chasms then back to the car and head straight to the next one. Entering and existing the same trailhead might be the easiest and fastest way to explore Larapinta Trail.Larapinta Trail, a total distance of 223km end to end, begins at Alice Spring Telegraph Station, following the spine of West MacDonnell Ranges while meandering its way through narrow chasms, sheltered gorges and inundated waterholes. The more popular features along this trail consisted of (in order) Simpson Gaps whereby black-footed rock wallabies can be spotted almost anytime, Standley Chasm, Ellery Creek Big Hole, Serpentine Gorge, Ochre Pit, Ormiston Gorge, Glen Helen Gorge and eventually the highest point and also the end point Mt Sonder.One of the most unforgettable short walks we attempted along Larapinta Trail was Standley Chasm. It was slightly after dawn, the air was exceptionally cooling and crisp when we started the walk as to avoid hordes of bush flies darting us in every direction as what they had done to us the previous days. Like to mention, during or towards end of summer, flies are extremely active and their populations simply bloom profusely. The best way to spend quiet moment in outdoor ‘without’ flies is to wear an insect net over your head. It might look a tad silly but definitely the most effective way to minimize the buzzes and creepy-crawly-hairy-countless-microscopic-feet using you as the landing ground.The trail was divided into 2 parts; the first part was more in contemplating the surrounding and the later one required climbing and four on the ground. At the end of the first chasm, colossal boulders impeded our way, the first look of it without much thoughts did look like a dead end. However, the walk should not have just ended being Mt Sonder is officially the ending point of Larapinta Trail. We stepped up on a few loose rocks, small enough to overcome without much hassles and big enough to support our weight. After a few series of leaps into the air, it unveiled the broken trail beyond those boulders. We hurled our backpacks over the massive boulders and started climbing our way through. The chasm then transformed into a narrower trail but suffice for a grown up heavily laden with camping equipment to wriggle through without much efforts.No matter how much you plan, there is always impending unknown barrier lurking ahead of you. Along the second chasm, the trail was broken again by a boulder stuck mid air slightly higher above the ground and implausible to go underneath it. Even if you could, another larger boulder behind entirely blocked out the trail. The only way to get through is to go over these boulders by the mean of manoeuvring on a tree trunk and inching our way up. Previously, someone had made deep slashes on the trunk at intervals to provide foothold when climbing.By the time we arrived Serpentine Gorge, the sun was hanging mid sky, perhaps soaring as high as 42 degree Celsius. It was also the time when bush flies were the most active of the day. The trail walk to the gorge was about 5 to 10 minutes walk where we parked our car. Sombre water filled the gap and snaked its way farther into the narrow gorge. Ascending up the steep cliffs offered a bird’s eye view of Serpentine Gorge with the other side presenting jagged ranges that dominated the vast desert landscape. The slanting outcrops scarred the cliff face where I was standing made an impressive piece of art work when contemplating the nature. The sight spreading right in front of me made me oblivious to the relentless sun beating upon my skin. Heat wave could kill especially in Australia Outback, the heat intensity is so much higher than anywhere else mainly because the sky is mostly clear without a speck of clouds to filter out the direct sunray. It was necessary to bring at least a litre of water when attempting any walks even a short one and best to anoint with at least SPF 30 sunscreen.After the grueling hike to viewing Serpentine Gorge, we drove our rented X-trail to the next destination before sleeping over near Glen Helen Gorge. Ochre Pit was an aboriginal site, a multi-coloured walls mainly consist bands of red, orange, yellow and white. It acted like a colour palette that was essential to the aboriginal paintings or decorative colours used in their ceremonies when mixed with oil or water.After driving for 145km Namatjira Drive from Alice Spring, we finally reached our last destination - Glen Helen Gorge. An hour after our arrival, the sun was very much close to the horizon, emitting its last soft rays against the gorge that then reflected itself on the nearby waterhole, gradually releasing an elegant radiance to the surrounding. We heard birds chirping in the distance and at the same time viewing through our binocular when we saw a couple of them resting among the cliff face seemed to be waiting for the sun to skirt off the horizon, dim and cool down the surrounding. The one night stay in Glen Helen Homestead had never been better. It was located less than 5 minutes walk to Glen Helen Gorge Waterhole and view of Mt Sonder in distance was possible. At the restaurant, we scrutinized the dinner menu and what astounded us was this taste of Outback platter that seemed to have fallen out the norm food listing. It consisted of skewers of camel meat, smoked emu, crocodile and also kangaroo salad. These could easily qualify as taboo for some and likewise for us. We went for the regular mixed grills, lamb rack and grilled barramundi without much consideration. After the delectable dinner, we sauntered outside the homestead, appreciating how wonderful the world could be without all the irritating buzzes that had pestered us throughout the day! We gazed upon the black velvet skies tucked with myriads of luminous stars, spending a moment of what the nature has bestowed us. In the background, live folk songs* were playing aptly with that moment, which included memorable tunes like "Big Wide Starry Sky", "Heavens On Fire" and "Venus & the Sun" that then concluded the exhausting day. * All songs were composed and sung by Chris Aronsten. Visit www.chrisaronsten.com for more. Close
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…Read More
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. Close
Written by texasblaze on 07 Dec, 2005
If you haven't done so, reserve a rental car now -- use a popular travelocity or expedia as reserving directly usually hasn't returned the cheapest rates.Ayer's Rock is the most visited place in Australia literally in the middle of nowhere. The day I arrived, the…Read More
If you haven't done so, reserve a rental car now -- use a popular travelocity or expedia as reserving directly usually hasn't returned the cheapest rates.Ayer's Rock is the most visited place in Australia literally in the middle of nowhere. The day I arrived, the external land and cell communication towers were still out from a lightning strike 3 weeks earlier.When you arrive, pick up your car. Be aware that the cars usually have a 150km/day limit and it's easy to blow the limit if you aren't careful. Plan your trip to Ayer's Rock and the Olgas so that you conserve your miles.Ayer's Rock: to climb or not to climb? The aboriginal ask that you don't climb it, have the power to close the climb for any number of reasons, yet leave it open for people to climb. There doesn't seem to be a consistent message, but, it's up to you and what you decided to do. I climbed it after walking 11km around the base. I'd suggest that you do the climb in the early morning if you have problems with heat or aren't in that great of shape. Take your time. There are 135 poles on the chain link fence. go up about 5-10 links, pause, let your heart rate come down, then go up a few more and repeat until you get to the 133 link where you can rest some more on a flat spot before tackling the last 2 links. Bring lots of water with you and drink it because it will keep you hydrated. Most injuries are due to heart attacks climbing this rock. Also, hold onto the chain link going up. There is no dishonor in being safe, but lots of pain or death should you slip and fall. The first part of the climb is hardest. Don't stop there. Keep going once you get past the chain link and you will find lots of flats with some rolls. It's worth it once you get to the end and have the 360-degree panoramic view. Coming down, hold on to the chain link, and walk backwards. Your legs will thank you, as most people are not used to the negative resistance required if you should choose to walk forward down the Rock. Sunset at the car park is better than at the tour bus park. This is why it's better to have a car. Plus, you can come and go as you please, and generally, the price of a tour is a bit more expensive than the price of renting a car -- unless you rent the car onsight without advance reservations. I spent $80 for 2 days rental and $15 in gasoline. Sunrise: disappointing at Ayer's Rock - far too many people and no segragation of cars/tour busses. And the tour bus tourists can be quite rude and insensitive. Since it IS a National Park, DO NOT SMOKE!!! For Sunrise, go to the Olgas. But - you need to get into the park when it opens at 5 am to be at the Olgas to watch the sunrise and before it comes up. By the time you get to the Olgas, you will need to be ready to walk up to the viewing station and set up your camera and be ready to start shooting. The photos of Ayer's Rock with the sunrise behind it are impressive. The Olgas are also nice to watch the various colors appear as the sun rises.I'd recommend 2 days max in this area. There isn't much to do. If you hikeup/walk around the Olgas/Ayer's Rock, you will have done more than most visitors to the area. Be aware there ARE dingos (yes, the Dingo ate my baby is true and this is where the phrase originated)so don't just go wandering off exploring the outback. Stay in within the park zones. I rested at a waterstation while walking around the Rock and heard a pack of dingos - there may have be 20-30 of them in the distance and I would have been dinner if they decided they were hungry! Just be sensible. Close
Written by Timone on 03 Sep, 2004
Barrow Creek has the telegraph station and a hotel with bar and facilities but not much else. The gas station is basic and you pay in the bar, which is decorated with drawings, cartoons and bank notes left by passers through.
The bar does food and…Read More
Barrow Creek has the telegraph station and a hotel with bar and facilities but not much else. The gas station is basic and you pay in the bar, which is decorated with drawings, cartoons and bank notes left by passers through.
The bar does food and caters for coaches and also for the average motorist, there isn't a lot of choice, mainly pies, crisps, cold drinks. The pies though are wonderful and shouldn't be missed, I recommend the beef pie, which is rather tasty.
The building itself is interesting, it looks run down and has a roof which is tarpaulin held down by lots of rope and breeze blocks!
If you fancy using the toilet facilities then you will need to collect the keys from the bar, they lie on the bar and are huge wooden spoons, clearly labeled men and women. The toilets themselves are basic but clean and more than adequate.
The telegraph station is set away to the left (as you look at the building) and is usually surrounded by tourists snapping away. It was the scene of some bloody fighting in 1874 after the linesman and stationmaster were killed by the local aboriginal people. Although it should be noted more aboriginal people were killed in the reprisals than perhaps seems fair.
A quirky and fun stop, not to be missed on the long, long road from Alice to Tennants Creek.
Written by Gypsy Canuck on 22 Jan, 2004
The community center is modern and air-conditioned, but the houses aren't, so the people sleep outside in the dry season. It is a no grog community, so it is safe and friendly. The community has a night watch with a police car. There is a…Read More
The community center is modern and air-conditioned, but the houses aren't, so the people sleep outside in the dry season. It is a no grog community, so it is safe and friendly. The community has a night watch with a police car. There is a fence around the excision that prevents strangers from coming in by car. There are old cars abandoned everywhere and there is a gas station where anyone can buy gas. The store is open for limited hours and there is a medical center that the flying doctors come to two days a month. It is manned by two aboriginal health care workers and one nurse (sister). The clay oval is always busy with kids and there is an elementary school and shaded areas for circles of talk. It is a relatively quiet community. Close
Walking in the desert around Alpurrurulam is peaceful and uplifting. There are little flowers growing out of the dust. The birds scream at you, and the wind is wonderful and warm. There are termite hills all around that look like little high-rise cities. The ridge…Read More
Walking in the desert around Alpurrurulam is peaceful and uplifting. There are little flowers growing out of the dust. The birds scream at you, and the wind is wonderful and warm. There are termite hills all around that look like little high-rise cities. The ridge is rocky and what is described as high is flat to North American eyes. The sunrise is magnificent and it is hot walking any time after 9am. The temperature was in the 35-40 degrees Centigrade. The scrub in the desert is home to many small animals that you only see at night. The snake trails are everywhere, but you don't see the snakes. You can relax and enjoy the sheer isolation that you feel as you seldom see another human being. It is an eerie feeling to look forever and see nothing but desert. Your footprints are the only ones there. Take lots of water as you dry up in minutes. Make sure you know where you are and that if you don't return, someone knows where to find you. Close