Monday, 3 June 2013

West MacDonnell Ranges

After spending several days working in Alice Springs we found ourselves with a Sunday which was ours to do whatever we felt like.

We were lucky that the Community market was on in Todd Mall so the start of our day was easy to plan. Coffee at the Red Dog Cafe and a walk around the market before heading out to the West MacDonnell Ranges.  Its an easy drive from Alice west along Larapinta Drive then you turn right onto Namatjara Drive heading towards Glen Helen Gorge.

We have visited this area a lot so we decided to spend some time at some of our favourite spots in the West MacDonnell Ranges. 

Ellery Creek Big Hole was our first stop and the waterhole was as beautiful as ever The Gorge has been carved out from waters flowing into this tributary from the Finke River. The early morning sun shining through the Gorge was just stunning. 

A climb up the rise and I was able to take fantastic photos of the now vulnerable MacDonnell Ranges Cycad. 

This truly is a great spot and its a shame the weather wasn't warmer as a swim would have been beautiful. There were some really adventurous tourists who braved the water (Brits I believe so I suppose the water and air temperature were fine for swimming for them. Brrrrr!)

Further along the road we stopped at the ancient Ochre Pits where local Aboriginals have gathered the many coloured ochres for use in rock, body and bark paintings for thousands of years.  The ochres were so special they were traded with other groups from hundreds of kilometres away. 

Ochre Pits

Our next stop was Ormiston Gorge where we walked through the Gorge opening and relaxed on the rocks which form some of the most comfortable resting spots you can find. Whilst resting  there and staring up at the rocks a beautiful small rock wallaby appeared and for the next 30 minutes or so we watched in amazement as she made her way slowly down the rocky slope to the cool water.

As tourist groups approached the wallaby would stand rock still and none seemed to notice her. For some reason she wasn't disturbed by us as she seemed to know we wouldn't harm her as she gently made her way down. Eventually we decided we didn't want to take any chances of frightening her so we left, leaving her to enjoy her drink alone.

Can you spot the wallaby in the shadow?

It was lunchtime so we headed to Glen Helen Gorge and enjoyed lunch out the back of the resort gazing at the magnificent scenery.

After lunch we walked up the Gorge and relaxed whilst looking at all the birds on the water and chatting to a few other travellers who were sharing the experience. 

It was now time to head back to Alice as we had special plans for sunset. Just behind John Flynn's Grave Memorial is a track that heads through the scrub and up Mount Gillen and from here you have one of the best views of Red Centre sunsets that you could wish for. It is a good hard climb but it is really worth the effort and we definitely recommend it. 

Our day was over but the memories still linger and in this ancient and wonderful area we are certain of one thing, that we will return, because no matter how many times we visit we never cease to be enthralled by all the natural beauty that awaits us.

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