Day 9 - The Red Centre - Alice Springs waterholes


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Published: May 27th 2017
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Hi all, today is our second full day in Alice. We decided it was time to go and find the famous waterholes. But before we could do that we needed the obligatory McDonalds coffee and cake. Headed off on a 90km drive to find the Ellery Creek Big Hole. It is a spectacular waterhole fed by the Ellery River. It is not running at the moment but you can see the signs of the floods meters above the current level. The river cuts through the MacDonnell Ranges and no doubt it has taken millions of years to cut out this gorge in the mountains. The Terran is rugged and unforgiving and the bird wildlife was abundant. I wanted to bring one of the local Quails home. Even though the scenery was spectacular we found a significant number of dead fish on the water's edge. It put us off swimming. We didn't understand why the fish had died. We found out later that this occurr each year when the creek stops running and the fish run out of oxygen in th water. With fish floating in this water we moved on to the next water hole called Ormiston gorge which was another 40 odd kilometres. This gorge is as spectacular as the Ellery Creek hole but did not have any dead fish. It's water was estimated to be 14 meters deep at one end. Again lots of quail around and we found out it also has local rat and Dunnart populations. Glad I did not see any of those hanging around. The pictures do not give the view the credit it deserves. This gorge happened to have a visitor centre that was bustling with walkers, campers and day trippers. The centre also provided lunch facilities with cooked food and we had another wonderful local lunch sitting on outside chairs and sharing our spoils with the local quails. I secretly wanted to catch one and place into my backpack. No such luck I am afraid. After lunch we headed a further 4 kilometres up the road to a former cattle station called Glen Helen. Glen Helen is now a tourist resort that allows visitors to truly immerse themselves into this very simple life. The permanent waterhole at Glen Helen Gorge supports lots of fish, water birds and rats. No dead fish here.

For the traditional owners of the land though this inviting swimming spot is off limits. They believe it is the home of an ancient and powerful Rainbow Serpent. This is another reason why I didn't need to swim here. The landscape around Glen Helen is as spectacular as you will find anywhere with a towering sandstone wall greeting you as you arrive. it truly is spectacular.

Across the road from the Glen Helen homestead was a free camping area on the sands of the local creek. Paul decided it was a good idea to have a look at this site and to drive in. Now the entrance to this site was sandy and rough. Not an issue for Paul's Landcruiser or Xavier's Ranger. But my sister Tracey has a phobia about sand driving ( comes from the time she got stuck at Cape York). It is quite funny to see her in a frizzle when we are on the sand. On the way out from this camp Xavier got his Ranger stuck in the sand (he was still in two wheel drive). Tracey now went into a full meltdown, hand on the face but with fingers spread out enough for her to still see the action out front. My wife and I were passengers in the back having a good chuckle at Tracey's expense. Xavier pressed a couple of buttons on his trusty Ranger and he drove out with an air of confidence. Tracey was by now white and silent. Having Tracey silent is something to be seen. Suffice to say she got a ribbing for some time after. We got home in time for Xavier and Tracey to go to the AFL match being held in Alice Springs. I didn't go as I would rather sit down and watch grass grow than go to the footy. They watched Melbourne take the match and Tracey got all excited because she was able to high five one of the players on the fence. She was so proud to show up the video of the hand slap. No show of who the player was or of her own face. Still she was proud Of the hand slap.


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Ellery Creek Big HoleEllery Creek Big Hole
Ellery Creek Big Hole

Shows the debris at flood
Ellery Creek Big HoleEllery Creek Big Hole
Ellery Creek Big Hole

Shows flood debris


28th May 2017
Footy at Alice Springs

water holes
Are there fresh water crocodiles in those water holes ?.
28th May 2017
Footy at Alice Springs

Crocodiles
Water is too cold for crocodiles

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