A day at the Opera!!

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August 11th 2013
Published: August 21st 2013
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Opera AustraliaOpera AustraliaOpera Australia

This guy was on tour with Opera Australia, what a voice he had

There is a main event here on Sundays and that is free pancake's! Joy, we headed off to the larger barbecue area in the main section of the caravan park, there is already a long queue of people with mugs and plates at the ready.

We join the queue and fortunately it does not take long to go down. It looks like the guys making the pancakes have done this before, probably a hundred or so times before, they seem to have such a good routine going I feel that I need to make sure I am promptly ready with my plate otherwise my pancake my hit the floor and I don't want to ruin the efficiency of this magnificent breakfast feast.

They advertise the mans record stands at 13 pancakes and the ladies at 9, I don't think I will be breaking either of those, my limit was 2.

We sit with Rhonda and Tom and I am ashamed to say there was another family on the table but we barely spoke to them and even though we are all wearing sticky labels with our names on, we don't

At the Start of the walk.
even know their names.

After breakfast, we get ready to head off for a day out, making sure we have plenty of water and food onboard, off we set toward Standley Chasm, everyone has mentioned this and the fact that we need to be there at midday to witness the midday sun sit directly over the chasm, which does remind me of the time we were in the Bungle Bungles at Echidna Chasm and the same thing happens there.

Off we set, my trusty map in hand, not far into the drive, I realised that I did not have my camera with me, now there is a first, it is usually attached to me somewhere all the time, although Andy offered to go back, I said I would make do with my iPhone and he had his camera anyway. I was a little annoyed but I had moved it from it's usual hiding place because we had constantly been taking things out of the truck every time it went to the garage.

The scenery was simply amazing, the MacDonnell Ranges are impressive, they just go on in a straight line for simply miles, with the occasional gap.

Eventually we arrive at Standley Chasm, otherwise known as Angkerle Atwatye "the gap of water" by it's traditional owners, the Angkerle Aboriginal Corporation, we have to pay $10 each in order to access the gorge walk up to the chasm.

this is a significantly cultural site for the womenfolk of the Western Arrernte people who did "secret womens business" here. The European name of Standley Chasm honours Mrs Ida Standley who was the first non-Aboriginal woman to visit here and the first school teacher in Alice Springs in 1914. In 1925 she became the matron at a school for children of aboriginal descent.

I find out that the best time is one hour either side of noon because the sunlight makes the quartzite walls glow highlighting some of the rich colours and the form of the chasm walls and for the seasoned walkers sections 3 and 4 of the Larapinta trail goes through Standley Chasm.

Hiking boots and hats on, we head off for a good walk, the ground is very rocky as most of it is dry creek bed and eventually
Opera AustraliaOpera AustraliaOpera Australia

Now we had two singers, they were ace
we arrive at the main area only to hear someone belting out a pretty impressive opera tune, the acoustics pretty impressive in this chasm.

There was a small crowd watching and of course we joined them, but alas the song was over and a round of applause followed.

Along with many other tourists we mooched around, a sign tells you not to go any further because of the inherent danger of death which I have to say is enough to put me off, but I am sure this is to limit their liability of losing tourists. One man told me that he has walked up that way but it was a long time ago, and perhaps before it was handed back to the aboriginal owners, so we wondered how many tourists died up there before they put the sign up.

We find out that some of the tourists are opera singers from the Australian Opera and they are taking a break whilst they are performing in Alice Springs. Well this is a bonus for us because the guy who was singing when we arrived said he would sing for us again.

Wow, to the delight of the crowd he belted out another tune (I could not tell you what it was though), the woman standing next to me was overcome with emotion as a tear trickled down her face, it really was very good but I was not about to fetch the tissues.

Midday came and midday went, the sun had not reached fully overhead, Andy put a marker stone in the middle and we could see how quickly the shadow moved, but alas most of us missed that moment because luckily for us, the opera singer had pulled a colleague in on the act and they belted out a duet for us all. Even bigger wow these guys were absolutely amazing, even Andy who is not an opera fanatic, enjoyed the whole thing.

So we missed the moment with the sun overhead but hey, how often do you go on a hike and have an operatic performance at the end? Not that often I can tell you, so our day was made and grinning like cheshire cats we hiked out of the chasm.

Grabbing a coffee at the kiosk, we see the family we sat next to at breakfast, he introduces himself as Alan and we natter for a while, they have not done the walk yet, but feel pretty aggrieved at having to pay $10 each for the privilege, he is not the only one, we have come across several people that are not happy about paying to see something that is part of the Australian outdoors, but we come across it all over the place now, you have to pay day entry fees into a lot of National Parks, there is no escape.

After some more exploring we drive back toward Alice Springs and Simpsons Gap, we walk into the gap, which is a little more impressive than Standley Chasm, alas no opera singers though.

A sign tells us that we are not allowed to swim, I looked around for the water, but there was only a small pond in the gap, which was probably too cold to swim in anyway.

We stop at Reverend John Flynn's Grave which is just on the outskirts of Alice, he was the guy who started the Royal Flying Doctors and we have seen reference to him in many places on this journey in the outback.

The stone which marked his grave is not the original one. The original one was brought in from another part of the Northern Territory and the Traditional Owners wanted it back, so eventually it was returned to it's rightful home and another stone was found and put in its place.

Back at camp for a cup of tea and enjoy the remainder of the day, except that Andy had some work to do, in preparation for tomorrow morning, so as soon as the sun was down and the hot day evaporated into a warm evening he carefully removed the broken towbar, taking the remaining bolts out, it all came away a little bit too easily.

We get ready for round 2.


Additional photos below
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Looking very Casual.

Don't push it over.

22nd August 2013

Getting Cultured
Getting cultured aren't you?! What a unique outback experience in stunning Standley Chasm. Keith & Jan xx

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