Goodbye Alice

Published: August 26th 2013
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Sunday 18 August

Well finally the morning that we have planned to hit the road again has arrived, this is weird moving again after 2 whole weeks in the same place.

Alice has been lovely, despite our pressures of getting the towbar and the welding sorted out it has been great here but time to go, we both feel the need to get back out of town and back to bush camping.

Opening my eyes to welcome the new day in, I heard those words "Happy Anniversary!" For a brief moment I had forgotten it was our 23rd wedding anniversary today, when we got married I don't think I could ever have imagined waking up in Alice Springs on any of our anniversaries let alone the 23rd.

Andy is out of bed early, I could hear him tinkering around, but it was too early for me, he did bring me a cup of tea at 7am though, for which I was very grateful, I did manage to ease out of bed 20 minutes later and start to pack up the inside of Gypsy, going through my usual process of
Our Alice Springs NeighboursOur Alice Springs NeighboursOur Alice Springs Neighbours

Deb and Vern from Darwin
making sure all the shutters were closed, the bed was made, things were put away in the cupboards.

This morning is pancake morning here and our plan is to have pancakes for breakfast and hit the road straight after, we are almost ready to go, but it is time for breakfast and off we go to the camp kitchen with plates and mugs in hand.

The pancakes are already on the go, they have this really great barbecue hot plate trailer it just hitches to the back of a vehicle, with it's own internal gas cylinders and the camp site staff site it where they need it and start making pancakes.

We are early today, so virtually at the front of the queue and the pancakes are on our plates straight away, I have mine with lemon and sugar, but Andy goes for a caramel one this morning. We sit with Brad and Jo who are on their holidays from the Melbourne area, they have a few more days here, Deb and Verne come along a little bit later.

I watch the queue and wait for a good moment to go back for seconds, but that is all I can manage, no way can I go back for thirds, especially as these pancakes are the size of dinner plates.

Back at camp we hook up Gypsy and Jack, holding our breath to make sure everything works correctly, we do our usual checks and are ready to go.

Saying all our goodbyes to Deb and Verne on one side and Brad and Jo on the other, we are soon on our way again. The most important thing this morning is to give Gypsy a wash on the way out of town, she has not had one in a while, probably in the 3 months that we have been on the road and really does need it.

Today we are driving out to Ormiston Gorge and hope to be able to camp, I was worried as someone told me that it would be hard to get a camp site, but hopefully we would be early enough to secure a site. We don't have too far to travel, only around 100k's so a nice easy start to our onward journey, which was uneventful, stopped at Ellery Creek for a look and we arrived at Ormiston Gorge in time for some lunch, it really wasn't that busy here.

In the afternoon, I am sitting in the shade typing up some blog and hearing a noise above me I can see a Port Lincoln Parrot in the tree, he is having a feast, but in the process there are bits from the tree dropping all over me, I am being bombarded! Thanks Mr Parrot, I had to move as he is right overhead and all the seeds are dropping in my hair and drink.

We are expecting to meet up with friends of ours, Andrew and Jo, we met up with their sons Dan and Josh and their girlfriends a while back when we were at Farina. I was hopeful but we also knew they had a long way to drive today with around 600k's, so it could be tomorrow morning when they arrive.

I went off for a mooch around just to scope out the walks and see what was here so that we could organise a walk for later or at the very least in the morning, but we still wanted to see what Andrew and Jo where doing.

I watched the sun go down and the spectacular light changes on Ormiston Gorge in the background, what a great view to have from my chair.

Nick the camp host popped around, we had a chat with him and find out that he was fed up with corporate life and felt that he was married to his job and didn't see much of his wife, so packed it in and took the opportunity to travel and then the opportunity to run the camp site and kiosk came up so they took it, the best thing about this kiosk is that he invested in a decent coffee machine and took a barista's course so that he could offer visitors a decent coffee, so I promised that I would come over and get one tomorrow.

Dark fell, there was still no sign of Andrew and Jo, we figured that they might not be coming tonight, I did keep checking the sat phone just in case we had any messages, but there were none, so we had our dinner and a solitary Dingo made a noise in the bushes and wandered past.

The evening cools down rapidly, it has been a hot day, we were just getting ourselves ready to head indoors at 8pm and I checked the sat phone again just in time to get a call from Andrew, he tells me that they are still coming, it is fairly late for travelling, but I would not have blamed them if they had stopped and made their way in to Ormiston in the morning.

Fortunately the camp site was not too busy tonight and there is a site just across from us which is empty, eventually we heard a vehicle, it was the only moving vehicle around for miles so we knew that it was them, we directed them into the camp site and while they set up we got the kettle on.

Of course there was lots to catch up on, so we drank tea, chatted while Andrew and Jo ate their dinner and they also happened to mention that it was their 29th Wedding Anniversary today. By now it was 10pm and we were tired, Andrew and Jo looked shattered and then Jo mentioned something about the time.

The penny dropped, they were an hour and half behind us as they had come across the Western Australia border on their journey today, so while we were thinking they were driving late, it was in fact not too bad for them, but all the same it had been a long day so we left them to settle down for the night.

Monday 19 August

We were up at 7am, the sun was coming up and before breakfast we promised that we would walk down to the gorge, we needed to while it was still cool.

Words cannot describe how amazing Ormiston Gorge is and people had said this was one of the best, they were not wrong, there is a sandy creek bed, rock fall has caused some of it to be covered over, there is water here, but looking stagnant in places.

Andrew and Andy are busy talking about man's stuff, so Jo and I make our way ahead and clamber over the rocks because we wanted to see what was on the other side. While we were doing so, I saw something move up above us, and there was a little wallaby sat on a steep part of the rock face. We take photos and observe it for a while and then in a flash it was gone.

We carried on clambering over the rocks, it was good exercise and working up a great appetite for breakfast.

If you stand and take in your surrounds, just look at the sheer size and height of the gorge in front of me, nothing short of impressive and hard to comprehend how big this actually is, one thing I do know is that when the water flows through here it would be well above my head and as much as I would like to see the water come through here, I would not like to be here in heavy rainfall as there are a few boulders that look as if they will come down in the next few years.

Clambering back over the boulders the day was warming rapidly, I could almost smell breakfast leading me back to camp. We promised we would do the full Ghost Gum Walk later in the day when it cooled down.

Breakfast was a well deserved bacon and egg sandwich washed down with an excellent cup of tea.

Gypsy has her fair share of admirers today, a fair few people made comment as they walked past, one chap said he was just about to place an order for an RV Vista so was just asking questions about the model we had and if it was big enough etc. etc.

A hot day, was upon us, we lazed around in the shade, drank tea, chatted, managed to do a few chores and finally got to try the coffee, they let us take the china mugs to our campsite, what awesome coffee and in their own words "the best coffee between here and Alice Springs". Alright for the cynical amongst you, yes it is the only coffee between here and Alice Springs, but it is pretty decent and I agree with their description.

It was that time of afternoon before it was dark, the sun had started to go down and the day cooled off, so back on with the hiking boots and off we set to do the Ghost Gum Walk.

This walk was stunning, it took you through the grassy area of the gorge, the wildflowers were growing and there was a nice steady incline, it was only a 20 minute walk to get to the lookout, but already we were pretty high up.

You needed to be careful not to trip on the path as it was rocky in places, but very easily manageable, and a narrow staircase took us up to the lookout itself, that was probably the worst bit, because you really felt on the edge.

Did I say that was the worst bit? Wrong, the worst bit was the lookout, one of those that is metal supported by metal struts and of course you can see through the base of the lookout which does not fill me with much confidence as I wonder how often they check the legs and bolts on this thing.

We pose for photos (through gritted teeth) and admire the fantastic view, trying very hard not to remember exactly where I am standing. Everyone says "don't
Ghost Gums LookoutGhost Gums LookoutGhost Gums Lookout

This was really high up!
look down" but you cannot help yourself as you want to make sure that there is no movement in the structure.

Moving on as time is ticking on and we want to complete the walk before it gets dark, so we head off further along the top of the gorge and slowly make a descent down to sandy creek bed. There is water here, it is still and the gorge above us reflects in it, until Andrew skimmed a stone across the surface.

Finding our way across the boulders we are soon up to where Jo and I walked to this morning, so we manage easily enough to pick our way across onto the other side and very quickly we are back at camp and have a quick shower before getting dinner on the go.

There was no light in the shower so it was in virtual darkness, a lady grumbled to Jo because apparently there was no hot water, I think she thought that I had the last of the hot water, when Jo got in the hot water was in abundance, we can only conclude that she could not work out which was the hot water tap, believe me if I only had cold water coming out then I would soon work out which was the hot one.

Andy and I had tortellini for our dinner, we all sat under the awning to eat, Jo and I had a glass of wine, which was the very last drop of alcohol that I had on board, it could be the last drop for a while.

Bedtime beckoned, it was 10pm, the rest of the camp site seemed quiet it looks like some campers had gone to bed quite early.


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