Where are we now?

Where are we now?
Where are we now? Tahmoor, NSW. Updated 7th December 2011

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Day 188. Alice Springs

Pop Barry, Greg, Karen, Scarlett, Grace and Me
Exploring the West MacDonnell Ranges

Today we are going to discover what lays hidden within the 'West MacDonnell Ranges'. The Nixon family (Karen, Greg, Grace, Kayle, and pop Barry who has joined the trip for a visit) have decided to join us, so after breakfast and packing a quick lunch we were off.

Kale, Scarlett and Grace

A number of scenic gaps pierce the West MacDonnell Ranges, and one of the most famous is 'Simpsons Gap'. This site is also one of the most prominent waterholes in the region. After a relative short walk following a sandy river bed, the area opened up into a beautiful amphitheatre. We spotted black footed rock wallabies hidden in amongst the rocks high up in it's walls, and the kids enjoyed playing on the big sandy beach leading down to the huge waterhole.
Simpsons Gap
A little further down the road was our second stop 'Standley Chasm'. Standley Chasm cuts through the tough quartzite to form a picturesque natural alleyway. Surging flood waters over thousands of years are responsible for this beautiful site, which is at its most impressive in the middle of the day. The light shifts across the cleft, treating us to a magnificent display of colours and forms. The walk in and out was 1.6kms of magnificent river gums and cycads, which the kids thought looked like Jurassic Park.

Standley Chasm

Walk into Standley Chasm

'Ellery Creek Big Hole' was stop number three, and so far the roads have been good, the walks easy, and after a quick lunch everyone was more than happy to explore a little further. Like the name suggests, Ellery Creek Big Hole is a spectacular waterhole fed by the mighty Ellery Creek. This dependable tributary of the Finke River cuts through a gorge in the MacDonnell Ranges. Over the millennia, massive floods have carved out this beautiful waterhole and unlocked some amazing geology. The kids were planing on having a swim at this waterhole, but as soon as they placed a toe in it's freezing waters, all bets were off.

Ellery Creek Big Hole

'Serpentine Gorge' was stop four, and was yet another stunning natural feature of the West MacDonnell region. The walk in meandered it's way through lovely River Red Gums, alongside idyllic semi-permanent water holes. There was a huge River Red Gum growing right in the middle of the water, and it was spectacular! This was one of my favourite stops for the day, the waters reflection was like glass, making it a photographers delight.

Serpentine Gorge

Scarlett and Grace with Ochre face paint
The 'Ochre Pits' were stop five, a registered sacred site offering a unique opportunity to view an ochre deposit that is still used by local Arrarnta people today. Ochre is used all over the world for decoration and painting, and has done since prehistoric times. Here the natural ochres in the cliff face have provided a source of materials for the indigenous peoples for thousands of years. They still provide brilliant colours today as the kids soon realised, when they decided to colour in their faces just like the aboriginal people do.

Ochre Pits

Stop six (the last stop of the day) was 'Ormiston Gorge', which was Shane's favourite of the day. A relative short walk in rewarded us with amazing scenery as the gorge winded it's way through the ranges further than we could see from here at our vantage point. There was a huge semi-permanent water hole, lined with more massive river red gums. It was so peaceful and the colour was outstanding as the sun was sinking over to the west. The vibrant reds covered the walls like someone had painted them. Scarlett climbed a big river gum and sat there overlooking the water hole, she didn't want to leave.

Ormiston Gorge

Ormiston Gorge

The 150km drive back was a long one, and because we were all so tired from all today's walking it felt like forever. When we finally made it back to town we called into Liquorland to stock up ready for the next leg, and I popped into Coles and grabbed some frozen chips and calamari to throw into the oven for a quick and easy dinner. After dinner we met up again with the Nixon family at the Strawberry Hut for dessert, and reminisced on all the beautiful things we had seen today. The Nixon's are off tomorrow to Ayres Rock, and we will all catch up with them again when we get there on Monday. It has been so good sharing our days with another family again; Scarlett absolutely loves the kids company, and we are also enjoying sharing our travelling experiences with each other. 

No comments:

Post a Comment