Monday, May 17, 2010


15 May 2010


A detour from our itinery is to take place. We had no intention of visiting the West MacDonnell Ranges on this trip. Due to the state of the outback, after all the rains they had, we decided to take this detour and visit the gorges in the West MacDonnell Ranges before going to the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges as planned.

We actually visited this area in May 29 years ago. There were 9 of us in our landrover and we tented all the way. Six of our family and our friends - a family of 3. We all still remember that trip. Our youngest was 9 months old and started to crawl within a week of getting home from the trip. What a blessing it was that he had not crawled on the trip as we were able to put him down and he stayed put sort of whilst we used to do what had to be done when setting up or pulling down camp. So here we are 29 years later revisiting the same places.

As the bill board at Simpson’s Gap stated this really is a timeless land. West MacDonnell Ranges are spectacular because of their formations, colour and because they rise so dramatically out of the flat desolate surrounds.

Simpson’s Gap is typical of the gaps and gorges carved out of the West MacDonnell Ranges over so many milions of years. Rich red quartzite rock formations soar above the creek bed.

We felt so insignificant, so miniscule in the context of what was before us. Little bushes, scraggy trees grew out of the rock face.

Again very lush countryside. You would not think that you were in the dry, desolute outback.

As we drove along Larapinta Drive we had quite a few creek/river crossings. A horse casually strode acrose the road. It walked a bit onto the grass and then looked back at the road as we passed.

A Monument along the way was to mark that this landscape inspired Albert Namatjira.

We dropped into Hermannsburg. It is much tidier than it was 29 years ago. Then every yard had secure fences and padlocks. That was not evident this time.

The cemetery looked neglected.

Back out on Larapinta Drive there was a washout over the Finke River. Sections of bitumen of one lane had been washed away during the floods.

Soon we were turning off to Palm Valley. The sign was a bit dauting.

Initially the track along the Finke river was fine.

The further we went the worse it got but the scenery on the way was beautiful.

The last 4 km into the valley were 4WD. The sand was very deep in sections and there were many water crossings along the way.

Kalarranga Loukout stood out from a far distance as the rock formation on top was spectacular.

We enjoyed our 1.5km walk to Kalarranga Loukout.

The scenery was just spectacular.

The rock formations were striking.

At the top of the ridge there were many waterholes - some still with water.

You could see the water flow line by the vegetation growing alongside channels on top of the ridge.

From here we continued on past the campsite and Cycad Gorge onto Palm Valley with its unique and rare Red Cabbage Palms. These are the only palms found in the centre of Australia. The closest palms to these are found at Lawn Hill which is hundreds of kilometres away.

It was rough 4 WD territory. The car rocked from side to side as it went over boulders, rough rock tracks and through creek beds.

The Palm Creek was flowing.

When we stopped I noticed a funny buzzing sound. I mentioned to hubby who ignored it until he got into the back of the Oka. With all the rocking his electric toothbrush had somehow come on. He reckons it’s a ghost in the car. Mmmmmmm! We never had one before. Everything held up beautifully during the rough ride. No cupboards or drawers opened up. The only thing that happened was that the accordion had bounced off the bed onto the floor with a very big thump.

We did the 2km Arankaia Walk. Initially we walked along the valley floor.

It was just beautiful. Then after climbing up a staircase we walked along the top of the ridge. Some interesting wildflowers grew along the path and lots of butterflies.

The cloud cover was getting somewhat darker and we wandered whether it would rain. The birds calls were coming from all directions

When we got to the fabulous campsite – toilets, solar showers, barbecue and gas hot plates – it started to drizzle very lightly. The drizzle was only fleeting.

The campsite is next to Palm Creek and is in a most beautiful setting.

We are getting tired of the locusts every day. The really punch a whack when they hit you. We are missing the stars tonight. Usually the sky is so bright because of the stars. No stars tonight as it is overcast.

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