MONDAY 28 JUNE ALICE SPRINGS
We motivated ourselves to get up at a reasonable hour, despite the chill, and get going out to explore some more of the Western MacDonnells.
I would quite like to go and camp out there – at Redbank Gorge or Glen Helen, to explore out that way, but John prefers to stay put here and do day tripping.
We drove as far as Ellery Creek Big Hole – about 90kms, and a very pleasant, scenic, drive to get there. There were always ranges and hills alongside the road for interest, and regular little gentle dips, where the road crosses dry creek beds. I presume that these flow so infrequently that it is not economic to build bridges.
On the way, we detoured to Honeymoon Gap, and went up to its lookout, where the views of the ranges were excellent.
Ellery Creek Big Hole is reached by an access road from the main Namatjira Drive. For a couple of kms, it runs along side Ellery Creek – dry, with a wide sandy bed, and lots of trees growing along its sides. Really pretty.
From the parking area, we walked the short way to the waterhole. We had been able to see the large gap in the range as we came in on the approach road. Like at Simpsons Gap, this is a permanent waterhole in the Ellery Creek, where it has carved a deep way through the range. In places, it is over 20 metres deep. The written material about it warns that it is extremely cold, to the point of being hazardous for swimmers. We were not inclined to test this out.
The waterhole was lovely – large and contained between the red rock walls of the range. We stayed there for a while, watching little fish in the water, and birds, and chatting to people. Two young men saw the Cape York logo on John’s shirt and asked him for information about that.
Then we did the Dolomite Walk, from the carpark out to the west. It took us about an hour. This was scrambly and rough, in places, and hard work for John, but was a most enjoyable small walk, with some wonderful views across the area.
Back at Truck, we had a late lunch, enjoying sitting out in the sun. It does seem a little warmer today.
I have a sore mouth today. Think I might have cut a gum, using dental floss.
From Ellery Creek, continued west another 23kms, to the Ochre Pits. From the car park area, it was a short walk to look at these – the walls of a dry sandy creek, where different colour soft rock ochre appears. This was a major aboriginal site, where they were able to obtain different coloured ochres to mix up into paints for ceremonial decorations, and also for medicinal use.
We wandered along the creek bed for a little while, looking at the different colours in the walls.
That was enough for the day, so it was back to Alice Springs. We drove 252kms today.
John had cold beef and potatoes for tea; I had tinned tuna with my potato, as it was easier for my sore mouth to deal with.
The night was absolutely freezing.