It’s 38 degrees in the shade and I’m sitting in the Daly Waters caravan park, about 400km south of Darwin and a whole lot of kilometres north of Uluru. The blog has been down for almost a week now because I missed a “your payment didn’t work email” for my domain name. I’d wanted to update the blog almost a week ago while things were fresh in my mind, but alas, it’s still not up, so I’m typing this onto the computer in the hope that it will be back up in the next day or two, so when I get some reception again I’ll be able to post.After arriving in the NT I headed down to the fossicking area around Harts Range collecting garnet, but I’ll leave that for now, as I came back to the fossicking again a week later for zircon. What I really want to talk about in this post is the tourism side of things, visiting the McDonnell Ranges, then tripping down to Uluru. I hadn’t done this sort of tourist stuff since I was down in Tassie and it made for an interesting break from fossicking and generally just travelling.
As you head south towards Alice Springs you pass by Karlu Karlu or the Devils Marbles, it’s well worth a stop here as they are pretty impressive. You have to marvel at nature and how these have formed into such interesting shapes.
There’s a cheap camp ground here if you can fit in and you don’t mind being jammed in, I’d hoped to camp here but by 3 in the afternoon there wasn’t much space left. There’s also free wifi available, rather strange out here in the middle of nowhere.
I arrived in Alice Springs, a nice enough place with almost everything you could need, a good place to stock up and prepare. Leaving Alice I headed east to the East McDonnell’s. It’s all pretty simple follow the road and stop in at all the different sites along the way, there’s only one road and you decide which sites you want to stop and see.
The main site along here to visit is the Trephina gorge, an impressive spot to stop and do some of the marked walks. I did both of the big walks here, totaling about 3-4 hours and there’s some impressive scenery to see.
The camp site here is pretty cramped at this time of year with caravans but less than a kilometre back down the road is the bluff campsite only suitable for tents and small campers. The NT really has it sorted for campers, $3.30 a night per person, or $7 for a family., just fill in the envelope and drop your money in the box. You get fire places and gas bbqs as well as a drop toilet and water on tap. After arriving I was chatting to a guy at the campsite cooking his dinner, commenting how great this was for camping, especially compared with some other states like Victoria where you pay almost $40 for a campsite with only a drop toilet, and you have to book online. He agreed looking at me sheepishly saying that he worked for national parks in Victoria and was ashamed of their system and prices. Great camp, apart from the crying baby, but that’s what ear plugs are for.. Or is that dingoes? Oops.
Leaving here I headed further out to the Arltunga Historical reserve. At the end of a long dusty road you’ll arrive at an old closed pub, this is a old gold mining area from the late 1800’s. You can drive around visiting the sites of interest in the area taking walks at each stop.
Man these people had it tough back then, it’s very remote out here and very hot, no water and shocking conditions, and from what I read the gold wasn’t very plentiful. one of the walks here through the actual mine sites was interesting seeing one hole that someone had dug out over 3 years through pure rock with just a pick and shovel, people today forget how easy we have it.
Back through Alice, time to hit the west McDonnells, once again, lots of sites to see along the road, some human sites, though most natural landscape features. The ochre pits were interesting, so many colours occurring naturally here in the bank of the river.
Then onto the Ellery creek big hole, lovely views here.
Then Redbank gorge has some beautiful sites.
As with many of these places you often wish you were there at a different time of day for taking photos, Redbank gorge above would have been fantastic in the morning with the sun on the rock face.
As you get towards the end of the ranges there’s a road called the Mereenie loop, I’d read a lot of comments warning that the road should not be underestimated, that it was horrible and dangerous, but to get to King’s canyon any other way would be a back track of many 100’s of kilometres.
What the hell, I was in a “go anywhere vehicle” the troopy would eat it up surely. Well the road wasn’t great, in many sections I was down to about 30km an hour apologising profusely to the car as we were both shaken around. Oh well, this is what outback roads are all about and it was only about 4 hours all up before I arrived at kings canyon.
Yes, kings canyon lives up to the hype, it’s great. You really have to do the rim walk to get the best effect, and take the little detours, especially the detour to the garden of eden, it was a very special place, I was there all by myself and sat watching these little golden birds flying around feeding on bugs. a very special sacred spot.
Look carefully in the picture above and you should be able to just make out some people on the top of the cliff, this will give you an idea of perspective. Very interesting place, you’d almost swear some areas were man made. No this isn’t concrete.
I met a couple in Tennant creek who showed me a photo of someone sitting on that little overhang ledge in the photo above, it’s only very thin, and a LONG drop down.
Someone did some careful rock arranging here, of perhaps it was just the angle, or maybe I’m a little loopy, but this really looked like a bird from a distance.
So much to catch up on now things are finally back online, fossicking for garnet and zircon, and visiting the big rock.