NOW: ALICE SPRINGS TO DARWIN
We commemorated ANZAC Day in Alice Springs, watching the parade as it travelled up Todd Mall. The mounted police and a group of young riders from Hermannsburg who donned historic Lighthorse uniforms rode proudly in the ANZAC March.
We spent the afternoon in the Aussie bush of the West Macdonnell Ranges. There was lots of water in the waterholes at Ellery Creek Big Hole and Ormiston Gorge. Lots of people were swimming but the water looked too cold for us.
As the sun got lower the red cliffs of the Macdonnell Range started to glow highlighting the ridge of rock known as ’the caterpillar’ in the dreamtime stories. We followed ‘the caterpillar’ as we travelled back along Namatjira Drive into Alice.
Our Alice Springs stop included a car service, a new windscreen after a small boulder hit us on the Oodnadatta Track and a new wheel after we found that that slow leak was not the tyre but a crack in the rim!
Miss Olive Pink was an Alice Springs identity who lobbied for the establishment of the Arid Region Native Flora Reserve in 1956. Olive lived in a tent on the site of the now botanic gardens, challenged the Government’s treatment of the local Arrente people and became one of the Alice’s most colourful identities. Above the Olive Pink Gardens you can climb Annie Myers Hill to look out to the hills, township and river of “Alice”.
A camp at the Devils Marbles, Karlu Karlu, gives an opportunity to see both the sunrise and sunset on these huge balancing rocks. Everywhere you look there’s another interesting rock formation. The only issue is you have to share the campsite with lots of other campers but we did have a campfire and cooked a great roast chicken dinner that others could smell cooking and wanted to share.
Just north of Elliott, 11 kilometres up a sandy track, a camp at Longreach Waterhole is a very different experience to the marbles. Sitting under the gums by the billabong we watched birds diving for fish and waders stalking the shoreline. Another great campfire with curry in the campoven, but no one else was within cooee who could either smell or share our dinner.
Sadly, this Conservation Park has been closed as visitors have killed birds, damaged trees and polluted the water with chemical toilet waste. Hopefully it will reopen in the future.
We’ve visited the thermal springs at Mataranka before and decided, on the advice of other travellers, to stop at Bitter Springs this time. With pool noodles at the ready we plunged into the warm 32 degree water and floated down the slow moving creek down to the bridge and climbed out at the steps. After the bridge the creek narrows and could have saltwater crocodiles! An easy walk leads back to the plunge in point and you float down again.
It’s easy to spend a warm humid day floating down the creek and walking back up to do it again. A pool noodle and wet-shoes are essential equipment, with an afternoon nap in the shade a definite requirement.
Adelaide River Inn, made famous by the Crocodile Dundee movies, is also home to Charlie the water buffalo. There were a lot of positive things about a night at Adelaide River. They had grass, shade, a resort pool, cold beer, good meals and a buffalo named Charlie that was decidedly stuffed!
After an easy cruise up the Stuart Highway to Darwin we organised our permit for Cobourg Peninsula in Arnhem Land at the National Park Office and replaced David’s broken chair all in the one parking area. When they guarantee camp chairs for a year I don’t think they expect the amount of use our one had but they gave us a refund as we’d already bought a replacement.
In the evenings if you drop a chip from your barra and chips dinner into the water off Stokes Wharf in Darwin a huge school of fish start jostling for their dinner too. You can’t fish from this part of the wharf but you’d be a happy fisherman if you could.
We used the Big Red Bus to see the sights of Darwin while we had the car checked over and the new rear deck fitted to our Tvan. We got a great view from the top of the old double decker bus and saw all the city highlights in one day. We started with a wander through the Botanic Gardens. We grow tropical plants in our home garden on the east coast but they don’t flower like they do in Darwin. The orchids, gingers and shrubs were covered in flowers.
The bus also stopped at the museum, art gallery, Flying Doctor, WWII Oil Tunnels, harbour and city areas. We finished our day at Mindil Beach Markets where we tried small serves of dinner delights including the delicious sweet and sour barramundi that the mechanic had recommended. We’d been out all day on the Big Red Bus but we felt we’d “done” Darwin!
NEXT: DALY RIVER AND LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK
See you on the Emu Track
Cheryl and David