West McDonnell Ranges

Published: July 15th 2012
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Day 7 – Friday July 6th - Kings Canyon to Serpentine Chalet campsite, West McDonnell Ranges

As Luke and Hazel cooked breakfast of bacon and scrambled eggs, Mark and Anna went to the resort reception to buy a loaf of bread and the Mereenie Loop Permit, giving us permission to use the unsealed loop road between Kings Canyon and Glen Helen, through aboriginal land.

It turned into another full day in the car, kicking up red dirt behind us as we trundled along the Mereenie Loop Road. Gosse Bluff was the most spectacular scenery until the West McDonnell ranges – a site of a meteorite landing millions of years ago.

Eager to avoid the crowds, we decided to try to find some bush camping in the West McDonnell Ranges. We stopped at Glen Helen Resort (campsite, pub, restaurant, fuel, cabins and information centre all in one) for some advice on where to look. Luckily we didn’t need to fill up with diesel as the Glen Helen diesel pump wasn’t working. I guess this is why it is highly recommended that you bring a jerrycan of fuel with you in case the outback fuel stations are dry.

Serpentine Chalet campground was recommended to us as one that would be quite quiet as it is proper “bushcamping”, normally unfavoured by the grey nomads and tourist who like their home comforts (such as running water, toilets and showers!) and sure enough after a short drive along a four wheel drive track we found a brilliant secluded camping spot, complete with iron fire pit.

After pitching the tent we got the campfire going to create some embers. It might not be Sunday but we were going to have a roast lamb dinner, cooked in the camp oven. Lamb wrapped in foil in the camp oven and jacket potatoes on the edge of the fire, we headed off for a walk up to the Serpentine Dam, part of the Larapinta Trail which stretches for around 280 kms from Alice Springs to Mt Sonder. When we got back we found the lamb and potatoes beautifully cooked and set about preparing our fresh veggies – carrots and broccoli. As Luke pointed out the only thing missing was gravy. And apple pie and icecream for dessert. But if I may say so myself dinner was pretty delicious J

Once again, when the sun went down the temperatures dropped quite dramatically. We sat around the campfire to stay warm, listening to Harry Potter (and the Prisoner of Azkaban) and Anna making us chocolate damper for dessert. The only thing wrong with the damper was that it tasted of lamb because we hadn’t bothered to wash the camp oven before cooking the damper. However, eating warm, lamb-flavoured chocolate damper is still pretty excellent on a cold starry night in the middle of the outback.

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