Sunday, November 8, 2009

NT-West Macdonnell Ranges

Another glorious sight seeing adventure was awaiting us west of Alice Springs in the West Macdonnell Ranges.
We camped at Glen Helen Gorge with our caravan and used that as our base to visit the many gorges and watering holes in the area.
Only a few kilometres out of Alice is Stanley Chasm. This is a magnificent gorge which when you visit it around noon you get the sun streaming down both sides and lighting up the red cliffs. There were many of our favourite birds, the rainbow bee eater flying around. These birds are so stunning in colour that I have spent hours trying to photograph them but can never seem to get that perfect shot.
Further west is the Ocre Pits. For generations the aborigine people used this place as a mine for the ocre which they use for painting and body decoration. Ocre is still collected from here today for special occasions only to be used for body painting.
Ormiston Gorge is another great walking opportunity. We climbed one of the cliffs and then walked into the bottom of the Gorge and cooled of in one of the watering holes. As usual in this area the view from the top was spectacular.
We then spent a day at Palm Valley and Hermannsberg. Hermannsberg was one of the early towns in Central Australia and was the home of the famous Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira. The original whitewashed buildings are still standing and their is now an art gallery, museum and tea house. There is still a large Aboriginal community living there today.
The final place we visited in our four days in this area was Redbank Gorge. They said that it is a 20 minute walk from the car park to the entrance of the gorge but after 20 minutes we had barely reached half way. For the first part, the path was well defined but we lost the path and ended up walking over and around boulders as we made our own way to the head of the gorge. It was a hard slog but so worth while. The large watering hole opens in to a series of caverns with cathedral like walls. The water is freezing and we were so glad that we had brought our blow up mattresses. Unfortunately Mikes’ sprung a leak not far into our paddle and he had to swim in the “ice water”. The sides of the walls have been worn smooth over the centuries from the flood waters. As you swim along there areas where you cannot see the sky and it feels rather eerie.

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