A Travellerspoint blog

June 2019

Alice Springs to Kakadu

...via Devil's Marbles, Daly Waters and Mataranka

sunny 31 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Return to complete the Lap on SteveJD's travel map.

In the last blog, I omitted a visit to Anzac Hill in Alice Springs and also didn't say how impressed we were with the town. It is is well-laid out and well-treed and generally looks to be a very liveable town. I'm not sure what we expected but it is a lovely, friendly, clean and neat town. Some towns leave a good feeling and Alice Springs is one of those. We were quite sorry to move on!

On Anzac Hill there are engraved panels giving information about all of the campaigns in which ANZAC forces have been involved.

Panoramic view of Alice Springs from Anzac Hill - West McDonnelll main range with East McDonnells behind the tree at the left

Panoramic view of Alice Springs from Anzac Hill - West McDonnelll main range with East McDonnells behind the tree at the left

The Aussie flag flies free on this very well-presented memorial

The Aussie flag flies free on this very well-presented memorial

Somewhat reluctantly, we left the Alice and continued (for about 425km) along the Explorers' Way (aka Stuart Highway). Not far along the road, we came across a memorial to [Colonel] Peter Egerton Warburton. In April 1873, he left this spot, just north of Alice Springs, with his son, Richard and J.W. Lewis, Dennis White, Charley, Sahleh and Halleem. They travelled with camels instead of horses. They had to skirt some desert areas and suffered many privations but successfully crossed the Great Sandy Desert and arrived at Roebourne on the Western Australian coast, in Jan 1874. The following year, Ernest Giles set out from Port Augusta and was successful in crossing the Great Victoria Desert to reach Perth; he set out from Peake Telegraph Station (between William Creek in South Australia and Oodnadatta in the Northern Territory) and crossed the Gibson Desert reaching the Western Australia coast at Geraldton.

A short way on from the Egerton-Warburton memorial, we found a memorial to Ned Ryan who was renowned for his well-sinking exploits in the 1880s, as part of a move by the South Australian Government to encourage settlement along what is now the Explorers' Way. He was also noted for his exploits in earlier explorations which he was lucky to survive. The 19th century seems to have had more than its fair share of adventurers, to judge from the number of explorers and discoverers we are hearing about in our travels.

Memorial to Peter Egerton-Warburton

Memorial to Peter Egerton-Warburton

Renovated hand-dug well built by Ned Ryan in 1889

Renovated hand-dug well built by Ned Ryan in 1889

Travelling along the Stuart Highway can be a bit wearying as the bush does not vary much and is generally low scrub with occasional patches of very open woodland (I use woodland fairly loosely here!). So we were glad to see, as a novelty, the giant figure of an Aboriginal man on a hill behind a roadhouse. This was the Aileron Roadhouse which, as usual, was populated by fascinating characters, an old-timer who was quite a character and a young chap from the Punjab. Outside the roadhouse, there was another huge figure, this time of an Aboriginal woman with an infant and a perentie (goanna). A nearby plaque informed us that the man was Anmatjere Man, created by Mark Egan and weighing in at 8 tonnes and with a height of 17m to the tip of his spear. We could not find information on the ground level sculptures but assume that they were by the same artist, possibly at a later date.

Anmatjere Man

Anmatjere Man

Figures of Aboriginal woman and child with a perentie

Figures of Aboriginal woman and child with a perentie

The only camels we have seen in Australia - in an enclosure at the roadhouse

The only camels we have seen in Australia - in an enclosure at the roadhouse

To return to John McDouall Stuart, his observations led him to record that he was in the centre of Australia when he found what he named Central Mount Sturt in honour of the leader of his first expedition (the government then bestowed the honour on Stuart himself). Having achieved this landmark, he set out to continue north to complete the crossing of the continent and so gain the £2,000 reward offered by the South Australian Government. He discovered Tennant Creek but was still some 960km south of present-day Darwin when his group were attacked by Aborigines as he and his two European companions were about to camp by a creek. Stuart tried to make peace but had no success so that the three men had to fire on the Aborigines in order to drive them off. Stuart was unwilling to risk the lives of his companions so they fell back and returned to Adelaide.

We came across a small monument beside the Stuart Highway, referring to Stuart's discovery of what is now known as Central Mount Stuart. There are several methods of determining the centre of Australia which are generally to the south and west of Alice Springs but I reckon that Stuart should be given the last word, since none of the other proposals seems definitive!

Plaque in honour of Stuart and Kekwick ascending Central Mount Stuart

Plaque in honour of Stuart and Kekwick ascending Central Mount Stuart

Central Mount Stuart viewed between some of the sparse trees

Central Mount Stuart viewed between some of the sparse trees

Not much further along the track, Ti-Tree Roadhouse provided a welcome break where we enjoyed a good lunch. The co-manager of the roadhouse turned out to be a lady from Perth and we enjoyed chatting with her about where we had all lived. Her husband looked after maintenance and they were only one of the many couples we came across who were living and working their way around Australia, in no great hurry. We have thought about what freedom such a life would give you but all in all, it is probably not the sort of life we would enjoy for long. One of Judith's photographic contacts has been travelling in this way for some 20 years!

Our overnight destination was the Devil's Marbles Motel at Wauchope but shortly before we got there, we stopped briefly at Wycliffe Well, the UFO centre of Australia!

a00c44a0-85ee-11e9-adad-7761d5b6e0a2.jpgWhat can I add?!

What can I add?!

The origins of Wauchope and Wycliffe Well names are not known but Devil's Marbles are known by the local (Kaytetye, Alyawarra and Warlpiri) Aborigines as Karlu Karlu meaning 'round stones' which seems quite appropriate (Aussie Towns, edited). The origin of the English name for the boulders is the following quote:

"This is the Devil’s country; he’s even emptied his bag of marbles around the place!" - John Ross, Australian Overland Telegraph Line expedition, 1870 (Wikipedia).

Before checking in and early the following morning, we drove a short way beyond the motel to take photographs of the Devil's Marbles in late afternoon and morning light. Before I get to these, I have been meaning to find a way of showing the Eromanga Sea - the sea which covered much of central Australia some 110 million years ago. It was deposits laid down at this time which gave rise to the opals found in Coober Pedy and Lightning Ridge, as well as many other geological formations.

The pale blue colour over much of Australia was the inland sea

The pale blue colour over much of Australia was the inland sea

This sea gave rise to the Great Artesian Basin which is relied on by many inland areas of Australia.

As far as I can make out, the Devil's Marbles were formed before, and just to the west of, the Eromanga Sea. According to Wikipedia, the "..Devil's Marbles constitute a degraded nubbin. The formation is made of granite and is part of the top layer of a formation which penetrates the ground from below, like little geological islands in the desert, surrounded by large amounts of sandstone. The granite was formed millions of years ago as a result of the hardening of magma within the Earth's crust. Thick layers of sandstone on top of the granite exerted extreme downward pressure on the granite. After some time, tectonic forces caused folding of the Earth's crust in the area, which lifted the granite and fractured the sandstone, allowing the granite to come closer to the surface. As the pressure diminished, the granite expanded causing cracks to form, and then the larger formations began to separate into big, square blocks".

"The next phase of the formation of the Marbles started when the blocks were exposed to water. The surface of the blocks began to decay under the influence of the water and a layer of loose material surrounded the individual blocks. When the blocks came to the surface completely, the loose material was eroded away by water and wind".

"The rounding of the granite blocks is a result of chemical and physical (also called mechanical) weathering. Chemical processes cause the surface of the blocks to expand and contract, resulting in thin layers of rock coming off the boulder in a process called exfoliation. This process rounds the granite block because the chemical processes have more effect on areas with edges. The rock begins to look like it is made of layers like an onion. Only the outer few centimetres are affected by chemical weathering in a process called spheroidal weathering." Very similar formations are found in Zimbabwe, just by the by.

Panoramic view across just part of the 'marbles'

Panoramic view across just part of the 'marbles'

29a04cc0-85ef-11e9-b2d1-91d80fba56e0.jpgTwo views of the rocks

Two views of the rocks

298ec090-85ef-11e9-adad-7761d5b6e0a2.jpgMore views with one unusual upright Stonehenge-like stone

More views with one unusual upright Stonehenge-like stone

A balancing rock

A balancing rock

A natural rock garden

A natural rock garden

We did get a bit carried away but these boulders are very photogenic

We did get a bit carried away but these boulders are very photogenic

Before heading off for our morning 'shoot' we enjoyed the best egg and bacon 'sanga' breakfast ever! After spending a bit of time wandering around the rocks, we headed off on our 523km drive to Daly Waters, stopping at Tennant Creek to refuel. A short distance out of town we found the old telegraph station buildings, including a wonderfully cool underground food store. These snapshots of history continue to fascinate us.

General view of the main Telegraph Station buildings

General view of the main Telegraph Station buildings

The Blacksmith's Shop

The Blacksmith's Shop

The foremost building has a deep and cool cellar

The foremost building has a deep and cool cellar

46ba2380-8de2-11e9-9116-3fcae133b891.jpgTwo views of some of the termite mounds which were appearing more frequently

Two views of some of the termite mounds which were appearing more frequently

We had a coffee break at Attack Creek but this was own brew and in the vehicle as the flies were so bad! Along the road this day we saw many birds of prey, including at least six Wedgetail Eagles circling around. Generally these birds have been scarcer than on our last trip, mainly as there seem to be fewer animals and less roadkill for the birds to feast on.

About 100km south of Daly Waters, the bush changed from mainly desert-like areas to very open woodland with low scrub and low trees (mainly eucalypts and acacias) to much greener and denser woodland with some big areas of very handsome casuarinas. At Daly Waters, we found that we could at last dispense with our flynets! What a relief.

This brings us to another stage in the expeditions of Stuart and his companions. A grant was made to equip Stuart's fifth expedition and he set out with 12 men and 49 horses on New Year's Day 1861. This time they were untroubled by Aborigines and pressed on past the site of attack and discovered Newcastle Waters. However, by this time, men and horses were failing and once again he had to turn back. Back in Adelaide, Stuart heard of the search parties looking for Burke & Wills and, in due course, the discovery of Wills' journals which brought the news that they had been the first to cross the continent south to north, although they had not actually been able to reach the sea in the Gulf of Carpentaria due to impenetrable tidal mangrove swamps. From his expeditions, Stuart was sure that with a few wells sunk along the route, it would be possible to complete the Overland Telegraph. The South Australian Government paid for the outfitting of his sixth expedition. This time, after recovering from injuries sustained from an accident with a rearing horse, Stuart joined the rest of his party north of the Flinders Ranges at Moolooloo Station from where they set off on New Year's Day 1862. In three months, they covered the 2,414km to Newcastle Waters. They reached an arid plan and Stuart rode ahead to see if he could find water, which he did at what he called Daly Waters, after the new governor of South Australia, Sir Dominick Daly, in 1862.

General view of the pub with lovely bougainvillea covering the roof

General view of the pub with lovely bougainvillea covering the roof

The Servo - and military cast-off!

The Servo - and military cast-off!

The Highway Patrol

The Highway Patrol

A new bird for us - a Great Bowerbird

A new bird for us - a Great Bowerbird

The entrance to the pub

The entrance to the pub

a23ba020-8de3-11e9-9a67-819934345768.jpgTwo views of some of the internal 'decor'

Two views of some of the internal 'decor'

Daly Creek is one of those places that you just have to visit. There is nothing but the pub but it is one that is full of character, good food, good drink, good company and, on the one night we were there, good music. As we are now getting closer to the coast, fresh barramundi is appearing on menus and we opted for the Daly Waters special of Barra and Beef - a lovely fillet of tasty fish with a beautifully cooked steak.

The trees and undergrowth were a lot more what we had expected, rather than the dry and bleached country we had travelled through up until now. We expected a lot of desert conditions but not quite the extent of dryness that we experienced. Daly Waters was to us an oasis. More comfortable to be out and around and much more birdlife to attract our attention. Just behind the campground, there is a stump of a tree which is all that remains of 'The Stuart Tree', a tree on which Stuart carved a large 'S' - rather a sad memorial to a remarkable achievement.

As you will see from some of the photos, Daly Waters has put Army surplus to good (?) use. From here to Darwin, the area is littered with the remnants of airfields and other military establishments, mostly dating back to WWII when Darwin was bombed by the Japanese. More of this in due course.

Some of the termite mounds we saw had been dressed and others took on interesting shapes.

Mounds dressed in their Sunday best

Mounds dressed in their Sunday best

A termite 'chateau'

A termite 'chateau'

From Daly Waters, we had a short drive of 184km to Mataranka but stopped by the road to look at another memorial. This one was in honour of Alexander Forrest who brought the telegraph from a point on the Western Australia coast to a point on the Overland Telegraph at this point between Daly Waters and Mataranka.

Understated and weathered memorial to Alexander Forrest

Understated and weathered memorial to Alexander Forrest

A little further we stopped for a coffee break, not because we needed one but because we could not resist trying the Pink Panther pub at Larrimah.
This is another quirky Outback pub but doesn't quite measure up to Daly Waters, although it is fun and the people were very friendly.

b4d4e870-8de5-11e9-afcd-854cc139d787.jpgThe Pink Panther Pub

The Pink Panther Pub

An interesting menu

An interesting menu

Judith couldn't resist a load of Teddy bears!

Judith couldn't resist a load of Teddy bears!

Unfortunately, much of the bush to the west of the road had been burnt, a seasonal occurrence. Finally, we reached Mataranka, which is known for its hot springs and for being the location for the replica house which was built for the 1980s remake of the film "We of the Never Never", a classic Australian story. For those unfamiliar with the story, Aeneas Gunn took up a quarter share of Elsey Station and arrived with his wife, Jeannie, in 1902. Sadly, Aeneas died in 1903 of blackwater fever and Jeannie returned to Melbourne, In 1908, she wrote the book "We of the Never Never" and in 1946, her book was first turned into a film. We had lunch in the Homestead restaurant, during which they showed the 1980s version of the film.

Mataranka is a Yangman Aboriginal word meaning 'home of the snake'!

There is a lovely thermal pool within about 500 metres of the Mataranka Homestead accommodation. Usually, another pool, about a kilometre away is open but while we were there it was closed, we think because the water level was too low after lower than usual rainfall in the Wet.

The floor was covered with dead palm fronds

The floor was covered with dead palm fronds

A walk through the forest

A walk through the forest

The Roper River

The Roper River

The replica homestead

The replica homestead

A Water Buffalo was a surprise - turned out to be 'tame'

A Water Buffalo was a surprise - turned out to be 'tame'

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Unidentified butterfly

Unidentified butterfly

Another surprise visitor to our cabin

Another surprise visitor to our cabin

An unidentified roadside flower

An unidentified roadside flower

An Apostlebird

An Apostlebird

A well-camouflaged skink

A well-camouflaged skink

An Agile Wallaby

An Agile Wallaby

A short drive away is Bitter Springs which is, if anything, a prettier setting with a pleasant walk around the pool. We started to get the tropical feel while we were in this area.

Grey Fantail

Grey Fantail

Rufous Whistler

Rufous Whistler

One of the pools at Bitter Springs

One of the pools at Bitter Springs

Tawny Coster butterfly

Tawny Coster butterfly

Unidentified dragonfly

Unidentified dragonfly

Unidentified dragonfly

Unidentified dragonfly

White-throated Gerygone

White-throated Gerygone

Bitter Springs reflections

Bitter Springs reflections

Blue waterlily

Blue waterlily

Another part of the Roper River

Another part of the Roper River

Our last day for this blog saw us leaving Mataranka and driving 377km to Cooinda in Kakadu National Park. We stopped in Katherine to refuel and then again in Pine Creek to try cakes and coffee at Mayse's Cafe - well worth a stop! The town seemed another neat and interesting town but we did not really have time to explore, so left the Stuart Highway to take the Kakadu Highway to Cooinda. About 100km of this journey, most of the trip, had been subject to controlled or patch burns so was not as lush as we had expected - also, pretty devoid of wildlife. Some areas were still burning! We had not known when we set out that May is the time for controlled burns, very sensibly but a bit disappointing for tourists. However, Cooinda itself was very pleasant and our accommodation in Cooinda Lodge was extremely good.

Welcome to Kakadu

Welcome to Kakadu

Kites wheeling around as bushfire drives prey out (and smokes out cars!)

Kites wheeling around as bushfire drives prey out (and smokes out cars!)

d3c68fe0-8dea-11e9-b928-dbf71937a702.jpgOur cabin and the lovely treed gardens

Our cabin and the lovely treed gardens

Unidentified blue butterfly

Unidentified blue butterfly

Unidentified black and white butterfly

Unidentified black and white butterfly

Posted by SteveJD 04:46 Archived in Australia Tagged alice_springs daly_waters mataranka aileron devil's_marbles Comments (0)

Alice Springs and the West McDonnells

...with a short stay at Glen Helen

sunny 31 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Return to complete the Lap on SteveJD's travel map.

Since we are on the Explorers' Way, it is a good time to bring Mr Stuart back into the picture - John McDouall Stuart's 3rd expedition made it likely that a direct south to north route could be found for Todd's telegraph line. Chambers and Finke proposed Stuart as the man most likely to find a way and in 1860 he was on his fourth expedition into the interior. He again kept to the west of Lake Torrens, as he pressed on with his companions, he discovered and named the Stevenson, Finke and Hugh Rivers and Chambers Pillar.

The European discovery of the springs occurred in 1871 and later on, one of the surveyors on the Overland Telegraph team named it after Lady Alice Todd, wife of Sir Charles Todd, who was the driving force behind the telegraph line. The Todd river was named after Sir Charles and this is one of several place names which I hope will not be changed, as so many appear to be, as they effectively record some of the most important history of Australia (Aussie Towns and book 'Great Australian Explorers).

On our first full day in Alice Springs, we went to the Olive Pink Botanic Gardens. She was a botanist and later a passionate advocate for Aborigines. She applied for a 20 hectare reserve on the eastern bank of the Todd River and proceeded to live in a tent there for many years. She planted the garden with the help of her friend and gardener, Johnny JambiJimba Yannarlyi. It is an arid garden but is well laid out with paths winding through the various types of vegetation featured. We thoroughly enjoyed the garden and saw quite a few different birds and animals - and also partook of coffee at the Bean Tree Cafe, a well known Alice restaurant. Ms Pink was a fascinating woman who led a remarkable life.

Euro with joey

Euro with joey

65337a40-808c-11e9-a969-dfdacd5799e8.jpgViews of a hillside in the garden and Mt Gillen, a favourite view of Ms Pink's

Views of a hillside in the garden and Mt Gillen, a favourite view of Ms Pink's

Angry-looking Grey Fantail

Angry-looking Grey Fantail

Flashes of colour on a Crested Pigeon's wing

Flashes of colour on a Crested Pigeon's wing

Eremophila flower

Eremophila flower

Grey-crowned babbler with attitude

Grey-crowned babbler with attitude

The following day, our guide from Outback Elite Tours, Chris, collected us early and drove us out of town aiming to see Chambers Pillar and Rainbow Valley (John McDouall Stuart was on his fourth expedition into the interior when he and his companions came across this sandstone pillar which Stuart named after his patron, James Chambers, a former horse dealer who had obtained mail runs into the country which Stuart had opened up, becoming a wealthy man ('Great Australian Explorers').

On the way down, we stopped to see some interesting petroglyphs at Ewaninga but unfortunately no photographs were allowed. Chris provided breakfast before continuing to a rather odd place at Maryvale. We travelled through some 'interesting' sand tracks at the edge of the Simpson Desert and this all, unfortunately, made Judith a bit travel sick. Not long after this, we reached Chambers Pillar which is a wonderful chunk of rock shot through with colour. Stuart must have been pretty impressed, in spite of his previous travels.

We enter the (red) Simpson Desert

We enter the (red) Simpson Desert

A distant view of Chambers' Pillar

A distant view of Chambers' Pillar

The Window, another interesting rock feature near Chambers' Pillar

The Window, another interesting rock feature near Chambers' Pillar

20190502_IMG_4394.jpgA couple of views of Chambers' Pillar

A couple of views of Chambers' Pillar

Chris made a nice lunch for us here (salmon with Italian rice and salad).

Picnic site with The Castle as a backdrop

Picnic site with The Castle as a backdrop

Lunch prepared by Chris - delicious!

Lunch prepared by Chris - delicious!

Crested Bellbird by the picnic site

Crested Bellbird by the picnic site

Well-fortified, we then walked around another impressive feature, The Castle, in the process seeing the first 'dragon' of this journey, albeit small and camera-shy.

Panoramic view of The Castle

Panoramic view of The Castle

The Castle

The Castle

Brown Falcon spotted on our way out of the parking area

Brown Falcon spotted on our way out of the parking area

By the time we got back to the vehicle, Judith was feeling a bit easier but Chris suggested that, as the road to Rainbow Valley was worse than we had experienced thus far, it would be unwise to press on with the original plan. He therefore detoured on the way back to a few other places of interest, including what remains of Rodinga, an old settlers' camp dating from the extension of the Ghan line to Alice Springs. We also visited the Titjikala Aboriginal Art Gallery where we saw a group of Aboriginal women working on felt hats, ready for an annual felt hat competition - you live and learn! Chris also found a Major Mitchell cockatoo within camera range!

Some very 'metallic' looking bands through some rocks near the roadside

Some very 'metallic' looking bands through some rocks near the roadside

Chris managed to find a Major Mitchell Cockatoo (not clockwork!)

Chris managed to find a Major Mitchell Cockatoo (not clockwork!)

Old stockyards near Rodinga

Old stockyards near Rodinga

Old bogie wheels and buildings at Rodinga

Old bogie wheels and buildings at Rodinga

We then set off for what was planned to be a three-night stay in the West McDonnells. We stopped in at Simpson's Gap which was very interesting and we saw a little Black-footed Rock Wallaby on the hillside. Both Simpson's Gap and the Simpson Desert were named after A.A. Simpson who was President of the South Australian branch of the Royal Geographical Society.

Memorial to 'Flynn of the Overland' - Rev. John Flynn, founder of the RFDS, and his wife

Memorial to 'Flynn of the Overland' - Rev. John Flynn, founder of the RFDS, and his wife

Dry riverbed leading to Simpson's Gap

Dry riverbed leading to Simpson's Gap

Simpson's Gap from the path

Simpson's Gap from the path

Zebra Finches were abundant in this area

Zebra Finches were abundant in this area

Judith standing by the remaining pool in Simpson's Gap

Judith standing by the remaining pool in Simpson's Gap

Black-footed Rock Wallaby spotted on our way out from the gap

Black-footed Rock Wallaby spotted on our way out from the gap

As we continued towards Standley Chasm, we found that just about all of the northern side of the road had been burnt out. When we reached Standley Chasm, we found that there had been a wildfire in January which had been started by a lightning strike. The buildings at Standley Chasm had only narrowly been saved by the efforts of the volunteers of the Alice Springs Bushfire Brigade. Given the narrowing of the gorge, it must have been a horrendous job. The chasm is named in honour of Mrs Ida Standley who was the first school teacher in Alice Springs. Previously, it had been known as Gall's Spring and the Aboriginal name is Angkerle, for which I can find no interpretation. Maybe it was just a place name?

Grey Shrike Thrush for company while we had lunch

Grey Shrike Thrush for company while we had lunch

Zamia palms beginning to show green against the blackened cliff

Zamia palms beginning to show green against the blackened cliff

517d1e20-81c7-11e9-8d69-b395a0b512c2.jpgTwo views of Standley Chasm

Two views of Standley Chasm

But thou shalt go no further!

But thou shalt go no further!

We continued along Larapinta Road to Glen Helen Lodge with the bush burnt out nearly all the way there. As we drove in, we were faced with a dry, dusty and rather shabby looking set of buildings. Inside was a lot more promising with a lovely reception area, bar and restaurant area. However, when we got to our room, we found a grubby cubby hole with not even a kettle - no chairs, mismatching windows which would not open, no drinking glasses, no rubbish bins - very basic at a premium price. There were no notices to this effect but it seems that the water, presumably bore water, was undrinkable. Bottled water was provided but this was so far from what we had expected that we cancelled the next two nights and booked two extra nights at the Big 4 in Alice Springs (a real oasis).

b8a63cf0-81ca-11e9-bab9-e5ec648fbc55.jpgOur first impressions of Glen Helen 'Resort'

Our first impressions of Glen Helen 'Resort'

The gorge area at Glen Helen was lovely, with the Finke River running along below the lodge to a waterhole where swimming was allowed. It could be a lovely place if they showed the same attention to the accommodation as they have to the eating and drinking areas. In fairness, we did receive a full refund for the two unused days.

The Aboriginal name for the Finke River is Larapinta, hence the name of the road from Alice Springs following the course of the river.

Gorge wall opposite the dining area

Gorge wall opposite the dining area

Australasian Swamphen in the reeds by the Finke River

Australasian Swamphen in the reeds by the Finke River

Swimming hole in the gorge

Swimming hole in the gorge

On the way back we stopped at Ormiston Gorge which had burned areas around it but the gorge itself seemed to have been spared the worst. (The origin of the name, Ormiston, eludes me - thank goodness do I hear you say?! On our way out, we noticed a lonely grave on the corner of Larapinta Road and the access road. It seems Hendrik Guth had asked to be buried out here. He had been an artist and founded Panorama Guth, in Alice Springs, which housed a 360 degree painting he had made. This unfortunately burned down some time after his death so we could not see what he had achieved.

Ormiston Gorge

Ormiston Gorge

Ghost gum clinging to a ledge in the gorge

Ghost gum clinging to a ledge in the gorge

Little Pied Cormorant in the gorge

Little Pied Cormorant in the gorge

Further down the road we turned off to some fairly extensive Ochre Pits, as well as revisiting Standley Chasm and Simpson's Gap. The flies continue to plague us outside Alice Springs.

Walking to the Ochre Pits through fire-blackened bush

Walking to the Ochre Pits through fire-blackened bush

20190504_17_Ochre_Cliffs.jpgTwo overviews of the pits

Two overviews of the pits

20190504_IMG_4499.jpgTwo closer views of the coloured veins of ochre running through the pit wall

Two closer views of the coloured veins of ochre running through the pit wall

Spinifex Pigeon at Simpson's Gap

Spinifex Pigeon at Simpson's Gap

Farewell view of Simpson's Gap

Farewell view of Simpson's Gap

One Zebra Finch begged to have its photo taken

One Zebra Finch begged to have its photo taken

On one of our extra days, we visited the Alice Springs Desert Park which was nicely laid out but we saw little wildlife outside fairly small aviaries and enclosures. The Nocturnal House was excellent, giving us views of creatures which we would otherwise be most unlikely to see.

Princess Parrots in one of the aviaries

Princess Parrots in one of the aviaries

Thorny Devil in the Nocturnal House

Thorny Devil in the Nocturnal House

A nice selection of grasses in the park

A nice selection of grasses in the park

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (take the tail on trust!)

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (take the tail on trust!)

We then had a disaster as the laptop died! We took it into Red Centre Technology and looked at buying a replacement but tried to get a replacement motherboard provided under warranty (just in warranty by a few days!). Unfortunately, Dell need a permanent address so agreed to extend the warranty to cover us when we get back to England. Meanwhile, a young chap did not want to be defeated and managed to kick it back into life - apparently it had been a Windows problem - how unusual! This all took a day and a half so we were lucky to have the extra time.

While our laptop was in 'hospital', we visited the Old Telegraph Station which has been well preserved and is a very interesting window on relatively recent history.

General view of the main cluster of buildings

General view of the main cluster of buildings

The Post and Telegraph Office

The Post and Telegraph Office

The Stationmaster's residence

The Stationmaster's residence

The original location of the 'Alice Springs' - rather dried up in the middle of the Todd River bed

The original location of the 'Alice Springs' - rather dried up in the middle of the Todd River bed

Next stop - Devil's Marbles!

Posted by SteveJD 02:48 Archived in Australia Tagged animals birds rfds alice_springs glen_helen simpsons_gap standley_chasm ormiston_gorge west_mcdonnells Comments (0)

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