23/4/2017 – 26/4/2017
This is one of my favourite spots in Australia, that isn’t a beach, and I know that lots of people love it here too. We are staying in the caravan park closest to Bitter Springs, which is a terrible name for such a lovely place, so we can walk down to the springs. The water is not hot, just a lovely temperature to enjoy. I took some goggles to see if I could find any turtles. So if anyone is heading this way make sure you take some goggles with you to experience the under water world. Hidden logs, long green reeds, dark underside of the lilies with shards of light shining through, the white sand at the bottom of the narrowing channel and I get very lucky with a turtle gliding along in front of me.
We also found an exciting way to lock your self in the van:
- Buy super yummy home made mango icy poles.
- Jump in the caravan and put the air-con on so you can eat the icypoles without them melting.
- Get Shane to shut the main door so as not to let all that cool air out.
…..so if you shut the screen part of the door and then the main part of the door is not attached and sits just a little bit out from the screen door so that the door handle goes neatly into the hole of the main door which means you cannot turn the handle and are therefore locked in – its as simple as that. Shane wants to call the caravan park office so they can come and rescue us – there is no way I’m making that call. Luckily a paper clip straightened out and pushed through the screen to push the door enough to be able to open it and we are free – only after eating the delicious mango icypoles of course. Who would have thought that it was even possible?
It is short drive to the Devils Marbles (Karlu Karlu) and we did toss up the idea of staying here. The camping area at the Marbles is very good with toilets and plenty of sites to choose from but with temperatures expected at over 35 today air-conditioning might take priority. Still it’s nice to have a walk around the area, as the rock formations are extraordinary.
Trivia note: John Flynn’s grave initially had a stone from this sacred site placed on his grave but in October 1996 the stone was wisely returned and replaced with one chosen by the indigenous community.
Shane has a bright idea about going to the Daly Waters Pub, he has a hankering to have a beer there. It’s a much bigger drive than expected but it is a very welcoming end to it and with only 20 minutes left of happy hour there is no time to loose. It is a great place to relax, good music, interesting surrounds and half price beers.
As we cannot get an early start this morning, early being any time before 9am, well we are on holidays from retirement, it is logical that we only travel a relatively short distance. Our aim is to reach Ti Tree but when we arrive we wait about 10mins trying to get petrol……and then give up to perhaps stop at the next which happens to be Barrow Creek, made famous by murder and mystery. It is probably the most unkempt, run down, sad looking place we have seen that’s still open so we glide in and glide out. In due course we come across Wycliffe Well which has some claim to fame as being the alien capital of Australia – I get the idea that the people before the current owners were right into this sort of thing but now there is very little eccentric enthusiasm but the petrol is very reasonable – very! On the other hand many people still come hoping to find that ‘the truth is really out there’.
It is a little daunting that there is razor wire around the park, gates are closed on dark and police are patrolling regularly but we don’t experience any disturbances of the extra terrestrial or any other kind.
Our last day in Alice and, as we hope to get up close to some of the birdlife we see whilst out and about – especially the Wedge Tail Eagle, we are spending time at the Alice Springs Desert Park.
The tickets we purchase are for the day and a night tour – bit of a discount buying them this way and we are extremely happy we did – money well spent and an experience never to be forgotten.
There are the usual suspects like the dingo, kangaroo etc. but there are animals we have only ever heard about, even some we have never heard about, so being able to see them up close is very special.
The talks around the park during the day are also very interesting and we thoroughly enjoyed our time with Jeremy learning some good tips on how to light a fire and good bush medicine.
Hands down, though, it is the bird show that makes you gasp as it is simply incredible – all open air and with a couple of ‘extras’ from the wild that also join in the fun, or actually try and stop the fun, it’s a must. We went to both sessions morning and afternoon. That is how good it was. Seeing the Eagle flying majestically down from the nearby cliffs is the highlight but there is so much more to oooh and ahhh over.
Wedge Tail Eagle
Getting quite a work out – the ranger or the falcon
The nighttime excursion is very unique and you really do get up close and personal with many, many animals. They seem very used to people so will often come right up to your toes. Conservation, breeding programs and the importance of preserving the environment as a whole are big subjects that are presented clearly with a lot of passion from the rangers.
I’ve always thought Shane should be throwing himself at my feet but without the bleeding knees!
We are on an easy section of the Larapinta Trail walking from Simpsons Gap into the first camping area. When I say ‘easy’ that means there are no big daunting climbs and no knee jarring declines but it is very stoney with long desert grass hiding the path in places. During the first kilometre we both did little stumbles and trips but Shane decides to go full horizontal and scares the life out of both of us. Thankfully nothing broken, a few scratches and bruises. He bravely carries on for the rest of the 7kms into the creek bed. At times we must look like we are marching through the wilderness, lifting our feet up high enough to navigate the rocks – apparently very good for the bum muscles.
It is our last chance to walk this trail for a while – Shane thinks we may have done 10% of it and reckons he could have cut 20ks off it by keeping the path straight instead of going around everything (lol). I am sure it has been designed so we can experience all aspects of this area from the woodlands to the towering hieghts of the MacDonnell Ranges.
A perfect day.
The weather is great, blue skies with a few clouds and ideal for spending a few hours out at Standley Chasm.
The Standley Chasm Nature Reserve is owned by the Iwupataka Land Trust and is operated by local indigenous family members who are descendants of families who have lived here for thousands of years.
And we are greeted by a very friendly Irish lady who is extremely helpful guiding us around the area.
The 3rd section of the Larapinta Trail finishes here dropping down into the gorge after one of the most challenging sections so I imagine what a welcome relief it would be to reach a destination that promises refreshments and a well earned resting spot. We are going up the trail just a short section to an area that almost looks over the chasm. The trail is well marked and has stone steps which help a great deal with the uphill climb. That being said it is a constant calf straining climb up and up until you reach the saddle and the section where you can see a glimpse of the chasm below. The views are, as expected, nothing short of spectacular the light changing constantly as clouds come and go effecting the colours of the cliffs that surround us. It’s a little bit slower going down but best not to rush and get back down safely.
Only one way and thats up
Magnificent view after a difficult climb
Looking down into Standley Chasm
While we are here we start down the beginning of section 4 of the Larapinta Trail and follow along until it connects to the hill walk and loops back around to the kiosk area. A nice little trek to bide our time before heading to the chasm at midday for the big show. For once I am at the right place at the right time and the weather cooperates beautifully with the clouds clearing and sun shining. Thankfully there is only a small group of people who are all very obliging and stand back on the edge of the chasm so all can get photos without people walking around in it – very impressed with everyones cooperation. The walls of the chasm fire up on cue as the sunlight penetrates down to the white rocky floor below. The walls are sheer cliffs and for the better part of the day are in shade, still very amazing but when the sun hits the right spot the colours become vibrant and glow with rich reds of every shade to golden yellow, orange tones. I am happy to sit enthralled watching for the hour or so it takes for the sun to do its very best artistic work.
With an expected 32 today the plan is to get out walking early. We have decided to walk some of the famous Larapinta Trail heading out to Simpsons Gap to join the trek back towards the Telegraph Station. The whole walk is 223kms long so we are having just the smallest tastes but hope to complete it sometime in the future. The wonderful thing is that you can hop on and hop off the trail to complete sections that are suited to your walking abilities.
Seeing the MacDonnell Ranges from the Hat Hill Saddle with Simpsons Gap down to the right and Mount Sonder in the distance.
A White Plumed Honey Eater – very excited to get this shot.
The extra views that are experienced are certainly worth it and add a further perspective to popular landmarks like Simpsons Gap. The higher we climb the more we enjoy the complexities of the range and yet still close enough to the powerful rock formations to appreciate the forces of nature that came together to create something amazing.