Sunday, May 23, 2010


18 May 2010


Well a very interesting day and a day of surprises. All well laid plans went out the window. It just so happens I sent mark 2 of our itinery to the kids and we have already strayed off it. Oh well – that is part of the journey, the adventure.

I have been wanting to see the Ewaninga rock carvings/petroglyphs for years. Two years ago when we were at Alice the road to Ewaninga was closed because of the Finke Races. So I missed out. Then I thought I would get to see them on the way up to Alice after Rainbow Valley. It was not to be. So today before setting out to the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges we went back onto the Old South Road from Alice to Ewaninga. On the radio we heard an interview with a songwriter Alison Oakley who was talking about her chilhood in Canberra and spending time at the Cotter. Then her song Camping at the Cotter was playd. It was strange hearing something about our home ground whilst up here.

I was not disappointed. A well laid out informative path took you to the rock carvings. The carvings were described as abstract in that they had hidden meanings revealed only to the initiated. The concentric circles could mean waterhole, campsite, meeting place or have another meaning whatsoever. The story could not be told as the symbols are potent symbols of the law of the Arrernte people and the creation time/dreaming. This is one of the sites that marks the rain dreaming.

Apparently this site has special significance for men’s business. The women were not allowed up here. They usually camped on the other side of the claypan.

I appreciated the fact that they were prepared to share this special place with everyone and that we could all see the carvings even though we did not understand or have access to the meaning behind the carvings. A viewing platform helps to deter people from climbing onto the rocks themselves.

We retraced out steps to Alice Springs. I do love this town nestled in a gap of the MacDonnell Ranges. From every entry into the town the dramatic ranges set Alice up as a special place.

We turned onto Ross Hignway to explore the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges. Before we left this morning we tried to get up to date information on N’Dhala Gorge and Ruby Gap. Northern Territory Roads phone number was useless. It did not ring at all after dialling. We stopped at Jessie’s Gap to ask the rangers and they had no idea. At Trephine Gorge the road update on the board was for 2 April.

Anyway, at Jessie’s Gap there was a litte water before the gorge but the gorge itself was dry.

Trephina Gorge was nice. There was considerable water. It was shallow in places and very deep in others and it was flowing.

There was even water around the bend.

The aboriginal rock carvings were still within reach.

One could see the recent flood height by the debris on the trees in the creek bed.

This was a very different sight to the one we saw two years ago. We had several creek crossings with water to get here. There was no sign of the ranger so after lunch we took off for N’Dhala Gorge. The road was okay until we came to the Bitter Springs Creek Crossing. The road here was a mess – totally washed out.

A track around the side allowed us to go on. So by the time we got to the turn off to N’Dhala we were not surprised to see a road sign with closed on it.

On the way there was an interesting memorial along the side of the road. A grim reminder of what can happen on these roads.

So we turned around and headed for Artlunga. How disappointing!!!!!!! All the brochures say fuel provided and camping. What a joke. There is nothing here except a pub for sale and an information board that told us that the track to Ruby Gap was closed. We continued on to Artlunga Historical Reserve. We had rung them in the morning to ask about the roads and they had not mentioned that there was no camping here when we had said we would see them later this day.

The road here was very interesting – very windy, up and down, cresty not hilly. Then we seemed to be on top of the ridge. The road train sign on this road seemed amusing but an indication of what can be on these roads.

A very good information centre was open but no ranger in sight. The ‚truck‘ toys were very interesting. They were made of tins and wire.

Signs said no camping in the reserve. We explored the reserve a little. The Police station had been restored.

We went in the direction of Plenty highway as that was in our plan. There were signs that there was camping at Old Ambalindum homestead. There seemed to be no alternative but to go there are we were on private station land.

What a surprise when we got there. A lovely area for camping. An old bush kitchen, hot showers and toilets with the choice of showering under a roof or having a solar shower in a cubicle under the stars. We thought it would be cool to have a shower under the stars but it is a bit too cold for that in the evening. So we will see whether we will have a shower under the lovely skies in the morning or opt for the one under a roof.

The locust plague has been through here. They have demolished most of the lawn, their veetable patch and most of the leaves on this palm tree.

The manger, Bob was very welcoming. Before long we rediscovered what a small world it was as we knew someone in common. Bob had been involved with car rallies/safaris and we know someone well who used to navigate in ralllies. We took a photo to send Fred at the next opportunity to send out emails.

Hubby decided that we should cook on the old wood stove in the bush kitchen. Neither of us had cooked on one before even though my aunt in Latvia till very recently was cooking on an open fire. So spaggetti bolognaise was cooked by hubby on the wood stove whilst I was writing this blog.

The sunset was beautiful. Now a decision has to be made – do we stay here another day or move on.

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