ALICE SPRINGS & MACDONNELL RANGES

Hello Everybody. We have travelled further north to Alice Springs. It is a really interesting drive. The landscape changes from desert to rocky hills to trees and bushes. We also got to see some wild camels just hanging out on the side of the road.

Alice Springs is halfway between Adelaide and Darwin. About 1500 Kms either way give or take. Even though it is a remote town, it is well serviced with all you could need.

MACDONNELL RANGES (WEST)

The ranges are located west and east of Alice and cover an area of 3,929,444 hectares. A 644 Km long mountain range. Today (Tuesday 25th) we got up at 0530 and headed west towards Ormiston Gorge. (Glen Helen located a little further on is closed due to Covid19). We took a walk along the banks of a stony gorge and up to the top to a lookout showcasing the beautiful Finke river and waterhole below. The river is not flowing but as you will see from Chris’s photos a spectacular spot just the same. You can camp here if you wish, but first in best dressed.

Our next stop was the Ochre Pits. A little stroll takes you into the creek bed and cliff faces with red ochre and white ochre. The more iron oxide the redder the ochre. An important part of Aboriginal culture and used for medicinal purposes, painting on spears etc and also painting on people.

Next stop, Serpentine Gorge. This was a short walk into a beautiful gorge and waterhole under the shade of ghost gums. If you are feeling really energetic (Chris was) you can climb up the steep gorge to see a bird’s eye view of your surroundings. There is a camping area called the Serpentine Chalet. They Chalet I believe is long gone with ruins showing a failed attempt at an early tourism venture.  

Walking into the gorge
Steps leading up to the top of the gorge.
From above.

‘Ellery Creek big hole’ was our next stop and what a charming, calming oasis it is. Surrounded by rocky gorges and gums, this shaded waterhole is very pretty and easily accessible. Before you get to the waterhole there is a picnic area and yep, you can camp here too.

As the day had warmed up, we decided to make Stanley’s Chasm (Angkerle Atwatye) our last stop. A popular destination for tourists (usually) it has a cafe and little souvenir shop. Only a 1.3 Km walk gives you a close encounter experience with this magnificent narrow gorge. Sacred to women’s dreaming of the Arrernte people it is an especially important place to the Arrernte community and is wholly owned and operated by them.

There had been a fire through here about a year ago, hence the black rock
Look at that colour.

Mt Sonder was a mountain range we could see as we travelled towards Ormiston Gorge. But we didn’t go there.

MACDONNELL RANGES (EAST)

We headed off this morning (Wednesday 26th Aug) to discover the eastern side of the ranges. I noticed that this side has lots more vegetation over all the ranges. Our first stop was Emily Gap. This is a spiritual site to the Eastern Arrernte Aboriginal people and has indigenous artwork about the caterpillar dreaming. Here we could see the use of the red ochre that I mentioned earlier in my blog. I cannot show photos of the artwork as no photos are permitted. But we do have one of the gorge which has great colour. 😊

Emily Gap

Our next stop was Jessie Gap, and this continues with more artwork of the caterpillar dreaming. Not such a spectacular gorge but ok.

We then made our way to Trephina Gorge National Park. As I mentioned before there is a lot more vegetation giving it a cooler feel unlike the red earth we were surrounded by yesterday. The walk we chose took us right along the rim of the gorge, where you could look down into the dry riverbed. I think it is the Ross River, but I am not sure. As you will see from the pics, another nice spot.

GHOST GUM

This is the largest Ghost Gum in Australia.

We did a little 4 wheel driving to get to the John Hayes rock hole. A bit of fun. Here is the rock hole.

We then thought we would spoil ourselves today and have lunch at the Ross River Resort. This is about 80 Kms from Alice Springs and they have camping there if you wish or you can stay in the accommodation they provide. The homestead itself is heritage listed and built in the 1890’s. A large dining room has been added to cater for visitors, but we pretty much had it to ourselves today. The dining room is really interesting in that they used a lot of material from the old Ghan railway line. Steel girders that support the roof were once part of a bridge. Wooden sleepers are used as part of the foundation walls and the ramp outside the building has used the steel tracks as handrails. They even have some of the old first-class Ghan seating inside the homestead. The owners were really happy to show us around.

Kevin the peacock. Check the sleepers out as I mentioned earlier.

One year after rain, they had 4 pythons around the homestead. They still have one they know of that shows itself from time to time.

Phew, I think that will do it for this blog.

Until next time…. Thanks for following 😊

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