Day 8: Shoo fly don't bother me

Published: June 25th 2017
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Geo: -23.7022, 133.887

We have been regulars with AATKings but they were all booked out so we gave Emu Run a crack. It was the same itinerary, in a small bus and we did enjoy it. Our driver and guide was David, from Montreal. Last night's dinner was hosted by Zac from Quebec. Looks like the Canadians like Australia.

And for anyone looking for a job there is plenty of work here in the territory. Seems that all industries are desperate for staff! There are so many young people from all around the world working here and they rave about the lifestyle.

Can't see us moving here in our retirement though.

The day began with continued coughs and splutters but there's no down time for tourists. This is another day on the road churning up the kilometres and getting up close and personal with the West MacDonnell Ranges that form a distinctive and impressive backbone through the countryside. We did this with a 7 am start with 7 degree temperatures and an introduction to the mallee shrub and the number 7 boomerang!

This is a majestic area. The West Mac's are a mighty mountain range. In their day, 500 million years ago, this mountain range was
as high as Everest and today, presents as an old weathered remnant that runs beside our road journey.

First stop was a walk along the sandy creek bed under the majestic Red River Gum to Simpsons Gap. Towering cliffs open up above a water hole and we had accessibility to the end of the gorge and Mac was able to climb up the "danger zone" for a better look. We did spot two elusive little black footed wallaby perched high on the rocky ledges sunning themselves. The water hole was drying quickly on our visit but two days ago this area was closed as Alice was drenched in rain and the gorge track was inaccessible to walkers.

Back aboard with David and we headed for Angkerle/Standley Chasm (not sure where the "d" comes from.) The chasm itself is a rock wallaby dreaming place that's sacred to the Arrernte women. In traditional times, only women could come here to collect bush medicines and perform sacred rites. For us, it was a narrow alley of quartzite that opened up to picturesque, sunbathed cliffs. There was a pool of water at the head of the chasm and of course, not content with the " ordinary
view" Mac had to do the rock wallaby thing again and hop up the rocks ....despite the "danger" sign... to get a higher "premium" view. On our visit in, there were lots of workers on the track repairing the damage created by the rain last week....including a tractor with a bath tub trailer!

Chewing up some more kilometres we arrived at Ormiston Gorge. This vantage point required just a little more effort and it was necessary to ascend the gorge via a series of stair walls that snaked themselves around the hills. Just when you thought you were there, you turned another corner only to find the next flight of stairs. The viewing platform was perched above the MacDonnell Ranges. The rugged scenery of this gorge was complemented by a near-permanent waterhole sprawled out under the ledge. We had a choice of 20 minutes back down the stairs....or a 3 hour trip that involved rock climbing and swimming the flooded and swollen creek. Good judgement prevailed! We took the stairs. Don't think Emu Run would have waited!

A simple lunch actually hit the spot perfectly. A tin of beetroot, a tin of corn, a tin of pineapple with a fork stuck in
each....lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, cheese....a corn wrap....serve yourself. Down market, no airs and graces. PERFECTION. Washed down with a juice or water.

And just in case you were tempted to swim, the next stop was Ellery Creek Big Hole. Thousands of years of massive floods have carved out this beautiful waterhole and unlocked the amazing geology of the gorge. There were some swimmers in the cool waterhole of "unknown" depth. It was dark and green and in the late afternoon was the perfect reflection surface for the gorge.

You learn something every other minute on this tour. We crossed the Finke River today and there are no bridges here. The waterways are either dry sandy tracks, a trickle of water or a raging flood. The Finke today was receding after the heavy rains of last week and was therefore passable, flowing just a few inches above the causeway. This river system actually drains into Lake Eyre and is billed as the Earth's oldest river, having maintained its original course for some 300 million years.

We have been treated to rock art throughout the Northern Territory which has featured ochre and have heard of its importance in ceremony and rituals. We hadn't realised that
there were only a few "pits" where this was collected from. The Ochre Pits are just 50 kms from Alice Springs. Bands of ochre could be clearly seen in the rocks ranging in colour through reds, yellows, purples and whites. When originally laid down these were sedimentary layers which during the Alice orogeny were uplifted and tilted to create parallel bands of colour which present as nature's own artist's palette. The walls were flaking and ochre is still collected today.

Last stop for the day was Glen Helen Gorge. The light changes constantly throughout the day and the in the afternoon light the oranges and yellows had started to appear.

Homeward bound was via a camel farm to drop some "riders" off for a sunset expedition. It was dirty and dusty and the camels were equally dusty and dirty but were saddled up and ready to go. Not sure how friendly they were as the yard was ringing with growling and groaning as they accepted the burden of the riders of all shapes, sizes and ages. And one even had on a crocheted muzzle (jobs for you too out here @AuntyGail). Guess he was the mean bite-you-spitty one. But have not
seen any outrageous Northern Territory headlines proclaiming disaster involving a pack of dishevelled camels - so guess all riders survived.

Dinner was in the Barra on Todd. Mac tried to break out of the barra rut but despite a wallaby pasta for the mains, still squeezed in some barra in the spring rolls.

Alarm set and ready for a 5.25 am start. Are you serious! Who's planning these early morning getaways!

PS Just want to let everyone know that the Chifley has the best shower in the Northern Territory: plenty of room, oodles of hot water, marvellous water pressure, a height adjustable shower head and absolutely no sign of a white shower curtain! With tiled walls and glass doors, red hair colour conditioner can be liberally applied. Bliss! I'm in there every chance I get.

Additional photos below
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17th May 2016

Has Mac started growing gills yet?????????....You guys are certainly testing out those walking shoes......but all so worth it......such a magical place....have to say, just LOVE the bucket hat & fly net Janet Joy!!!.....xoxoxoxoxo

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