NOW: ALICE SPRINGS
It actually RAINED while we were in Alice Springs! While we were having breakfast at a trendy cafe in Todd Mall the Todd River flowed through town closing all the causeways and creating a great deal of excitement. Rain to the north had the river flowing through town but there was not a drop of water past Heavy Tree Gap.
Being a retired teacher I was interested to visit the Alice Springs School of the Air which has students spread across 1,300,000 kilometres. We also visited Alice’s spring which is the original sight of the telegraph station and first settlement. The spring is actually a waterhole which can and does dry up but gold in the hills ensured Alice Springs kept growing despite the unreliable water source. The availability of water keeps the wildlife close to the visitors. A honey eater or three landed on our table at the coffee shop and a dingo strolled along the track while we were walking along the river bank.
The last time we visited Hermansburg, 22 years ago it was up a dirt track and we went on a tour bus. The road is now sealed and the Historic Precinct is the first Site of Significance to be placed on the National Heritage List. This is where Albert Namatjira and his family learnt to paint the local landscape using watercolours to capture their country. The Lutheran missionaries were however unable to convert the local people to Christianity.
We also drove out to Palm Valley on a road signposted to take 3 hours but only took us 45 minutes. There was some time pressure as it was State of Origin night but we ended up having plenty of time. You can camp out here but we had opted to stay in town to have the car serviced and camp on some grass. The last grass we’d had was in Adelaide. After travelling 15 000 kilometres we replaced the front suspension bushes on the Pajero. A small oil leak meant we had to stay 4 extra days while the seal came in from somewhere distant. The mechanic said we could travel on and have it replaced somewhere else BUT if you couldn’t get the part in Alice Springs we didn’t think we could get one in the smaller towns further north!
This gave us time to explore the East Macdonnell Ranges where we walked in Emily and Jessie Gaps. The rock art here tells the story of the three caterpillars you see in the rock strata of the range. Rock wallabies jump around on the cliffs here and at Simpson’s Gap.
At Trephina Gorge the walk along the rim provided great views down the gorge and across the hills. Water was pooled on the rock slabs at the top of the gorge but had soaked into the sand at the base of the cliff.
We timed our visit to Standley Chasm for midday so that the sun would be overhead. The overcast day meant the walls of the chasm didn’t actually glow red but the walls were smooth from the wind, sand, water and thousands of hands that had touched their surface.
NEXT: DAVENPORT RANGES, DEVILS MARBLES AND TENNANT CREEK.
See you on the emu track
Cheryl and David