With a couple of slightly dusty heads, we packed up the camper and then backtracked a little to Ormiston Gorge. There we did the Ghost Gum walk; this took us to Ghost Gum lookout, which had magnificent views across the ranges and over the gorge. The walk continued along the rim for a while before dropping into the gorge and returning along the gorge floor. We spotted a couple of black footed rock wallaby, who are amazingly well camouflaged, and can get up some seriously steep and rocky crevices.Fortunately it hasn’t rained over the last week and the roads are open again so our plan to go to Finke National Park and then in a few days to Kings Canyon via the Mereenie Loop looks like it is all ok. In fact, our timing and the weather has been exceptional. We missed all the rain in Alice Springs, by a day, and Palm Valley in Finke National Park only opened again two days ago. So off on to the unsealed roads … again.
The road took us past Tnorala, or Gosse Bluff. This is the remnants of a huge crater blasted out of the earth when a comet plunged to the ground about 140 million years ago. The 5km diameter crater left is just the core of the original 20km diameter crater. The meteor was not solid and there were no remnants. The Western Arrente people have a dreaming story about this place, it tells of a traditional wooden baby carrier that crashed down from the sky. That must have been one seriously large baby. We were able to drive into the crater and walk around part of it, which was rather bizarre in the surrounding very flat landscape. Large parts of it are sacred sites and the traditional owners would prefer you did not go there.
Then on to Hermannsburg Historic Precinct, this was a mission started by German Lutheran missionaries in 1876. The first missionaries fresh from the Mission Institute in Germany took 18 months to get here but did not last. In 1894, Pastor Carl Strehlow arrived and was vastly more successful. He learnt the Arrente language, translated the New Testament in to Arrente and wrote a number of important works about the Arrente people including a dictionary, which is still used to keep the language alive. His son TGH (Ted) Strehlow was born at the mission, and spent over 40 years studying the Arrente people. There is quite a bit of controversy over the ownership of significant spiritual and cultural items that were entrusted to him by the Arrente people when their traditional life was under threat. The items are now under the care of the Strehlow Research Centre.
Albert Namatjira lived at the mission and it was here in the 1930s that Rex Batterbee introduced him to European-style watercolour painting. In one of the buildings there were pieces of his art as well as some from other family members.
We continued the drive into Finke Gorge National Park, along the sandy and rocky river bed of the Finke River. The drive in was amazing and you can see why it would be closed when there is rain as there were many times we crossed the dry river bed and occasionally even drove along it. The campground was in a beautiful location surrounded by some fabulous rock formations. We were speaking to a couple of the other campers who said the campground was packed for the past 2 days, but emptied out big time today. The Northern Territory and South Australian school holidays finish in a few days and I guess people were leaving to go home. Timing! Once again.
Unfortunately, Tom was starting to feel very ill with the onset of tonsillitis. I ventured into our stash of drugs, yay Penicillin.