This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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1999 Travels June 24


The wind in the day time has become so cold, despite the blue skies and sunshine. Someone said today that winter only lasts a couple of weeks in Alice Springs – and this is it!

John’s legs were really sore after playing mountain goat yesterday, and he had bad indigestion, so I bought him some heavy duty Mylanta.

I changed library books – am getting through some reading, here. Went to KMart and bought a windcheater. I really need winter gear, here, and it was easier to buy a cheap one than unpack much of Truck to find my winter clothes.

After lunch, we went to bowls. It was alright – a bearable afternoon.

Tea was fettucine and tomato sauce.

John watched TV while I read.

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1999 Travels June 23


Today it was definitely time to play tourist, properly.

We took a cut lunch and drove west, out Larapinta Drive, to Standley Chasm – some 50kms away. The attraction of Standley Chasm is the way the midday sun lights up the red walls of this very narrow, deep cleft through the rock.

We got there about 11.15, a good time. We had to pay $4 each to the local aboriginal group that runs the area. This, and Simpsons Gap, have long been on the tourist trail in these parts – presumably they were not originally developed as tourist attractions by the aboriginals, but this is a more recent acquisition. This place was named for the first lady school teacher in Alice Springs, who was the first white woman to visit here.

We walked up the track that goes from the car park to the Chasm. This was a very pleasant walk in itself that took us about 15 minutes, and followed a dry creek line.

Because the overhead sun at midday lights up the Chasm walls, there were crowds of people by the Chasm entrance, all poised to take photos, and jostling for a good vantage point, herd-like. It was a bit amusing, actually. It would have been impossible for anyone to take a photo that did not have people in it.

06-23-1999 01 standley chasm

Almost midday in Standley Chasm – waiting for the show!

We joined the herd and took some photos when the walls went rather orange.

Rather than stay with the crowd, we decided to explore further – through the Chasm and beyond. That left most of the other people behind.

06-23-1999 03 beyond chasm

We followed the valley beyond the main part of the Chasm

At the head of the Chasm, a more gradual climb went off to the right, and a steep track to the left. I thought that might connect to the Larapinta Trail, a long distance walk track along the ranges, so we took that. It stopped at a very abrupt cliff into another big valley – real vertigo stuff! John took some photos and then we had to go down again, which was a little tricky and demanded a great deal of care.

06-23-1999 02 chasm far side

At this point, there was an abrupt drop down into the next valley

06-23-1999 04 goat tk at head of Standley Chasm valley.jpg

Our way was more of a goat path than a walk track

By then, we’d seen enough of Standley Chasm, so went back the way we’d come. Saw a rock wallaby, watching us from on top of a rock heap. Ironically, in the main part of the Chasm, the light on one wall was much better than earlier – and there were no people there, any more.

06-23-1999 05 chasm again.jpg

The walls of Standley Chasm glow orange when the sun is on them

We ate lunch in the carpark; the surrounds were quite pleasant. But there was quite a chill wind blowing.

Drove back towards Alice Springs, then turned off and went to Simpsons Gap. This is only about 23kms from Alice Springs by road.

We took the short walk along the side of Roe Creek, to the waterhole that fills the base of the Gap. It is Roe Creek that – in wetter times – cut the Gap through this part of the Western MacDonnell Ranges. The creek has a sandy bed and there are white trunked ghost gums growing along side it. The walls of Simpsons Gap were glowing orange in the afternoon sun.

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The approach to Simpsons Gap in the afternoon

Simpsons Gap would have been a very significant place for the aboriginals of this area, having the permanent waterhole there.

06-23-1999 08 waterhole in Simpsons Gap.jpg

The permanent waterhole in Simpsons Gap

Then we drove back along the road for a short distance, parked and walked the 1.5km Cassia Hill Loop Walk. This went up a little hill. The walk was signed with vegetation identification – mulga, witchettybush, several types of cassia. It was interesting, pleasant walking, and there was a reasonable view from the top of the hill.

06-23-1999 09 Cassia Walk Simpsons Gap view along Western McDonnells.jpg

Looking west from the top of Cassia Hill

06-23-1999 10 Cassia Walk panorama RHS.jpg

From the top of Cassia Hill, looking east towards Alice Springs. Bike path in foreground

06-23-1999 11 Cassia Walk panorama LHS.jpg

Another Cassia Hill outlook to the east

It was late afternoon by the time we walked back to Truck, so time to go back to camp.

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Simpsons Gap in the late afternoon

Although the places we saw today are busy with tourists, they do showcase the essential features of this part of Central Australia – stark, dramatic ranges, dry creeks, occasional waterholes, varied and resilient vegetation, and shy wild life. Sealed roads, formed walking tracks, signs – make it seem deceptively benign; but it can be treacherous country for those who do not take its potential hazards seriously.

Tea was lamb backstrap, pan fried with garlic and rosemary, with potato and salad.

We refuelled Truck today – 84cpl.

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1999 Travels June 22


The mornings here are quite crisp.

Today was my mother’s birthday – and is also the shortest day of the year. The nights in Alice Springs are long and cold. We have taken to leaving the little electric fan heater to cycle on and off all night, to take away the worst of the chill. It is well down close to zero degrees.

My skin and hair are drying out – due to the low humidity, dry air in these parts.

We got to the auction house about 10am. Had to wait quite some time before the items that interested us came up. Watching as things were sold, we thought that some items were really quite dear.

There were only two bundles of windcheaters – which was what interested me the most – and they were bid up too high for us. We were able to buy two bundles of T shirts, for about $8.50 per shirt. There were 13 altogether, some cream, some navy. We will keep some for ourselves and give the others as presents.

06-21-1999 desert park logo

The logo that was on our T-shirts

After watching some purchasers fiddling with other bundles of these, trying to swap sizes and colours, we felt it prudent to hang around, watching and waiting until the time we could pick ours up. Did not want to turn our backs and find we suddenly had two bundles of child’s sizes!

There was a dumpy level sold. John was annoyed because he hadn’t seen it until after it was done,  and he has always wanted one. I have no idea what one of these is, or if he would ever use it, at home!

It was well into the afternoon by the time we had collected our purchases.

Tea was soup, more sausages, salad. I have lots of leftover cold sausages for lunchtime sandwich fillings, now!

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1999 Travels June 21


Another beautiful day.

After a lazy morning, we set out to visit some of the tourist attractions of the town, but soon got distracted.

Drove through town and up Anzac Hill, just to the north, from where there are good views over the town and surrounds. The size and spread of Alice Springs is evident from up here.

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Central Alice Springs, seen from Anzac Hill. Heavitree Gap is straight ahead.

06-18-1999 west Alice Springs from Anzac Hill

Looking to the west, from Anzac Hill, over the light industrial area.

Then my plans were hijacked, when John saw where the light industrial area was and decided to drive around exploring that. Doesn’t everyone? He spied an auction house, so had to go look at what goodies they might have on offer. He really enjoys auctions, and needs to be watched closely!

There were all sorts of offerings that might have tempted him – had we not been living in a small caravan! But amongst the very diverse items were windcheaters and T shirts from the Desert Park, bundled in assorted sizes. I was not sure whether these were discontinued lines, or whether the place had changed its name. We decided to come to the auction, being held tomorrow, and bid on some of these, as they would make good presents for the family.

For someone setting up house in Alice Springs, this place would be a great source of necessities. It appears as if it is more economic for people leaving town to sell their goods, rather than have them transported elsewhere.

After a couple of hours at the auction house, it was too late to do much except go back to camp.

Tea was sausages, potato and salad.

John phoned S and had a long talk.

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1999 Travels June 20


This was another morning of just pottering about. A somewhat late start, then we sat outside in the sun, reading.

Lunch was early again, because we both went to bowls at the Memorial Club, for the afternoon. We were in different teams. The afternoon was reasonably pleasant. My bowling was adequate, for once. The people were friendly. I was given, as a new visitor to the club, a badge pin.

Tea was cold roast chicken, potato and salad.

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1999 Travels June 18


The day was sunny and warm, after a rather chilly night. I remember learning, in high school geography, about the large diurnal range – hot days and cold nights – in the arid inland of Australia. They were not wrong!

John phoned the bank to check about the house insurance. They assured him all was well, just slow processing of paperwork at their end.

Finalized paperwork arising from our mail, related to shares. Had to set up the printer to do so – always a pain in the small space of the van.

Drove to the town centre, posted the mail, did some banking.

Wandered the shops. There are a number of galleries selling aboriginal art works and artefacts. Not all of the latter are genuine products – nor made in Australia! We browsed in a couple of the better-seeming galleries. There was some really attractive aboriginal art, especially a luminous blue dot “Milky Way” series, in one gallery. It was very hard to resist, but I did.

At an excellent gemstone shop, I purchased a small carved stone frog, for $20. That will keep my plaster one company on the shelf above the bed, along with the flawed sapphire.

At a bookstore, John bought a book on using Word Perfect and a little one for me on using Windows. I am such a novice – think it will be really helpful.

Checked out the cinemas – John is always keen to visit these. Did not see anything of note.

We did the grocery shopping.

Oven fried fish from a packet, and fries, for tea.

Cold night again.

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1999 Travels June 19


Another pleasant day.

Although this caravan park is a busy one, it is not all that noisy in the mornings and we are able to sleep in.

I went and bought the paper and we read that.

After an early lunch, John played bowls at the Memorial Club.

I read. Went for a walk around the park, which is a large one. It has a backdrop of the range that bisects Alice Springs. Originally, the settlement was on the northern side, and the major part of town still is, but there has been some spread to the south. The Todd River passes through the range at Heavitree Gap, as do the Stuart Highway and the railway line.

06-21-1999 range from caravan park.jpg

The range, seen from the caravan park

Roasted a chicken and vegetables for tea.

John was able to watch football on TV in the evening.