Into the Valley


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Oceania » Australia » Northern Territory » Palm Valley
August 21st 2013
Published: August 27th 2013
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Tuesday 20 August



Today, we are all heading off to Palm Valley in the Finke Gorge National Park, Jo and Andrew are on their way home after their holiday and despite having spent a couple of nights with us have decide to come into Palm Valley with us for a quick look before heading off. A number of people have mentioned that Palm Valley is worthy of a look so it could not be missed.



We were both up early and fairly swiftly we had packed up, unfortunately Andrew could not get his Landcruiser started, the battery was flat so Andy had to give him jump start. In the meantime an elderly lady who was travelling on her own wandered over and asked Andy if he knew anything about tyres.



Apart from the usual joke that they are round and black with a hole in the middle, he asked her what the problem was and he had to go over to her camper van and check them out. She wondered if the tyres on the back were ok. Unfortunately when Andy got down on his hands and knees to have a look he found two very bald rear tyres.



She seemed not to be very happy with this news, Andy suggested that she go back to Alice and get them replaced, apparently at Katherine someone told her they were ok, but I don't know who she asked and she has probably done 2,000k's since then. I did notice when we were pulling out that she had asked someone else's opinion as I saw this guy do the same as Andy, get down on his hands and knees to have a look. I wondered if she knew this already but perhaps she was lonely and wanted to make conversation, she is in her late 70's and could not find anyone to travel with her, so she went anyway. The story actually was that her husband never wanted to travel so she never did and when he died she is now taking the opportunity.



Our journey was fairly uneventful and short, but most of it was on the dirt, we stopped at a lookout for Gosse Bluff, beautiful view. The roads were surrounded by scrub and wild flowers of all colours.



Just before Hermannsburg we
Ghost GumGhost GumGhost Gum

Beautiful stark white against the red and the blue of the gorge and the sky
arrive at the turnoff for Palm Valley, a big sign tells us to allow 3 hours, the road is rated as extreme 4 wheel driving. I have to say, this road is not too bad, rough in a couple of places, we think pretty moderate 4 wheel driving, but then it would also depend on weather conditions and today it is dry, sunny and the road is just dust and rock, it would be different if it was wet, you would find yourself traversing creeks. For us though the track is graded through the dry creek crossings.



We arrive at the camp site by midday, Jo and Andrew were supposed to be moving on, but they also wanted a walk in the Palm Valley, so made a quick decision to stay another night, it would put them under pressure time wise, but by the time we have a walk and get back it would be silly to get back on the road.



We choose a camp site and get Gypsy set up, it is only $6.60 per person to camp here, there are flushing toilets and hot showers, cheaper than Ormiston Gorge and the showers are much better.



After a quick sandwich we headed off toward Cycad Gorge and Palm Valley, this part of the track is a little bit more extreme, but still nothing too bad, you just have to take care over some fairly rocky area, if there was more water around you would have to drive through it.



It is a warm afternoon, camelbaks full of water at the ready, on our backs and off we set into the gorge for our walk.



This gorge is again stunning, not quite as high as Ormiston Gorge, but nonetheless the rock face itself is quite spectacular the weather has taken it's toll, you can see where crevices have appeared and then over time, large chunks have just fallen away from the rock face and landed in the valley below.



The other unusual thing about this valley is that there are palm trees growing all the way along, we follow the scenic walk along the flat, there are hundreds of palm trees, unique to grow in this environment but the conditions are perfect, the sandstone filters the water through to a lower level and this in turn allows the palm trees to be watered.



They ask you not to walk through the palms themselves as you may damage seedlings, but there is plenty of rock to walk across. The wind is quite brisk coming through here, which is nice because it is keeping the heat off.



Finding a staircase we head up to the top of the gorge and follow the walk back toward the car park, up here we see different plants, there are cypress trees, fig trees, orange trees and many others that I could not possibly name, again the wildflowers are in abundance, it is so lovely to see the colour flowers in this landscape, just remembering how barren and brown everything looked when we first travelled around Australia, this could be a different country it has changed so much.



We clamber over some rocks, picking the pathway through, we can look down into the Palm Valley, it looks just as stunning from the top as it is in the valley below.



An hour and half later we descend back into the car park, jump in the
Jo and CarolineJo and CarolineJo and Caroline

Andrew makes a posy of flowers for Caroline and Jo for respective wedding anniversaries. It was late, but it was all down to availability of flowers
trucks and head back to camp to relax for the rest of the afternoon. It really was just as well Andrew and Jo decided to stay another night.



Fires are allowed here, but only in the communal fire pits provided, so being that we have some wood with us, Andy sets about making the fire as we have decided to do roast dinners tonight, Andrew and Jo put some beef in their camp oven and Andy and I have lamb in ours (See Helen, we are still supporting the Australian Lamb industry).
The sun starts to go down and we watch the beautiful sunset from our camp fire, there are some clouds in the sky tonight which makes for a lovely sunset, the colours of the canyon are transformed to a deep red as the sun disappears behind Palm Valley.

We sit and enjoy the warmth of the fire and wait for our dinner to cook, it smells delicious. Halfway through we took the meat off the bone on the as it was taking too long to cook, we added some vegetables and waited a little longer.



The result was a beautiful roast
The Valley BelowThe Valley BelowThe Valley Below

Beautiful Palm Valley
dinner for the four of us.



Once the washing up was done, we went back to respective camps to get a good nights sleep.



Wednesday 21st

I woke up at 7am, but went back to sleep again, waking a little while later at 7.30 I peered out of the window and saw that Andrew and Jo had started to pack up. They were leaving this morning and really needed to get moving early as they had a long way to go today.



Andy got the kettle on, they had a quick cup of tea with us and after our goodbyes they were soon on their way. We had decided to stay another day, we like it here and besides we wanted to do more walking as it was so good.



We had some breakfast, did a bit of tidying up and off we set once more into the valley. For some reason the track looked a bit different today, I don't know why, maybe I did not pay much attention yesterday.



I do know that it is hotter today, there is not even a
Rosy Dock (I think)Rosy Dock (I think)Rosy Dock (I think)

These are not indigenous to Australia and may have been introduced when the camels were brought over. Native to Northern Africa and Asia and classified as a weed in Australia. Yet it looks beautiful across the landscape here.
breeze blowing, hats, water and sunscreen all applied and off we set back into the valley following the same route as yesterday.



We had wondered, maybe hoped that we would see a snake or two basking, it would surely be warm enough for them to start putting in an appearance, Spring is coming so surely they would be starting to wake up, albeit they would be a grumpy because they would be hungry and then they would be looking for a mate so not the time of year to get in the way of a snake.



I had thought we should do the longer walk today which takes you further into the valley and then up on the gorge the other side, it would be a 5k walk so nothing too strenuous, but being so hot in the gorge we decided to go back up the staircase that we took yesterday and follow the same route. It was strange, even this looked different in places than it did yesterday. The walk takes you along the edge, you can walk up to the edge if you want, but you can see where some crevices have
Tour BusTour BusTour Bus

Plenty of these around!
appeared, I would not really like to stand on any of them just in case they break off!



Palm Valley is much busier today than it was yesterday, the car park area is almost full, people are parking where they can, a couple of tour buses take up a fair bit of room.



We chat to a couple of people for a while and then head back toward camp, we do take a drive round though having a look at some of the other areas. The Finke River runs through here and along the edge of the camp ground there are a few walks that go from the campsite up to the river and also along more of the gorge where you can find a nice view of the sunset.



It seems quiet now we are on our own again, we spend some time reading, sitting in the shade, the flies are quite annoying but thankfully they disappear when the evening starts to set in.



We sat by the fire and watched the Dingo wander around, she seems to have a route that she follows as she did the same last night, this Dingo is either in pup or she has just had pups and no doubt she is very hungry with several mouths to feed. I made sure that the rubbish was in the back of the truck, the door to Gypsy is fully closed and there are no food items lying around and thus can avoid temptation.

I baked a damper but I was not very pleased with the outcome, never mind, better luck next time.



Later on that evening we had just got comfy in bed and I heard a loud howl, it sounded as if she was right next to us.

The moon was fully up, it was a bright night, it was cool at first, but during the night it did get a little too warm for comfort and we found ourselves opening the skylight quite wide to let some air circulate.


Additional photos below
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BreakawayBreakaway
Breakaway

See where the rocks have broken away, eventually that top shelf will fall away.


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