Day 108. Alice Springs to Glen Helen

This morning we left Alice Springs and hit the road again this time to the West MacDonnell Ranges, the more famous of the MacDonnell Ranges. They are not particularly high but stretch on for kilometres and the variation in colour made them quite beautiful. This is the land of Namatjira, and you really can see his paintings in the landscape. Apparently he was criticised for his use of colours in his landscapes, they obviously had not travelled to the red centre and the MacDonnell Ranges.

108 West McDonald small

First stop of the day was Simpsons Gap, a very impressive crack in the ranges gouged out by Roe Creek. Ben and Sam joined a ranger tour ‘The Secrets of the Gap’. It was all about the plants and animals of the area. So on the following few stops they were showing us which plants we should take for a headache or to rub into infections if needed, as well as many other tit bits. Tom, Patrick and I just enjoyed the walk.

108 Simpsons Gap 1 small

108 Simpsons Gap 2 small

108 Simpsons Gap tree small

Next stop Standley Chasm, this narrow cleft was formed by a tributary of the Finke River. The walls are 80m high and the chasm is less than 9m wide. We happened to be there near midday, which meant the sun was coming straight into the chasm.

108 Standley Chasm small

Then Ellery Creek Big Hole. Too cold for a swim but Patrick and Sam had fun making leaf boats and sending ants for a sail. For some reason they were naming them silly names like ANTibiotics and ANTidote.

108 Ellery Creek Big Hole 2 small

108 Ochre Pits smallThe Ochre Pits, a site used by the local Arrente people for centuries. Ochre was used medicinally, traded, for decoration and in painting . The colours varied from white, through yellow, orange and red.

Last stop of the day and the site of our camp for the night, Glen Helen Gorge and Homestead. A pastoral lease was taken up here in 1872, and some buildings from 1901 remain. It was a very short walk to the gorge entrance but that was as far as we could go without getting wet as it is blocked by a huge waterhole. Ben, Tom and I then decided to scramble part of the way up the 65 metre high cliff on the side. The higher we got the steeper it got and the more the rocks shifted so we opted for not going all the way up … and the way down was worse.

108 Glen Helen small

We had dinner at the homestead which was delicious especially fun was the entrée tasting platter of camel, crocodile, kangaroo and emu. After dinner, we settled in at the pub for a few reds, and listened to Chris Aronsten, a rather good musician. The kids played a few games of dominos and then it was time for bed, except for Tom who stayed until closing.

108 Rusty Car smallThis is a car that one of Tom’s friends took photos of years ago, and that Tom has framed on the wall at work. He tracked it down…it is looking a little more weathered.

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