Monday, 30 May 2011

East MacDonnell ranges

We decided that a day trip to the East Mac's would suffice. Can't get too 'gorged' out!! Some access roads to were closed also, so missed the opportunity to see some more petroglyghs.

We started with Emily Gorge just a few k's from Alice Springs. We had an early start at 0900 as we didn't know how long the East Mac's  would take. the sun is peaking over the top of this gorge.

We couldn't get into the main part of Jesse Gorge because of water in the access area.

Corroboree Rock was next. This rock estimated to be over 700milions old juts out amongst the landscape. The Arrente aboriginal people used this rock for their sacred ceremonies. No corroboree's were performed here due to lack of water in the area.

The walk around the rock took us into a landscape of flowering  bushes, so of course I like to try out the macro setting on my camera. The purple flower is a wild hibiscus & the cream flowers are from a mallee bush. They are just starting to flower in this area, so the honey eating birds will have a drunken time eating all the nectar that will be supplied.

Trephina gorge was next along the road. Just beautiful & very peaceful. So many pics here hopefully show some of the beauty of the area.

 These next few pics are looking across or down into the gorge from the ridge walk.

 So magical, I made the pics larger :)
 We came down into the gorge at the far end & had to take our shoes off - or get them wet!
 The water wasn't too chilly, but the views are just amazing. The white strip down the rocks is where the water stains the rock.

We sat & ate lunch at the picnic area where there were tables, BBQ's - & lots of mice! (there's been a mice plague in central Oz because of the great wet summer)

On the way out of the gorge we found a sign to this old magical ghost gum tree - it's reported to be 300yrs old

We couldn't get access to another much sought after gorge due to flooded road access :(

We also didn't feel like driving to the historic mining town of Arltunga or Ruby Gap as both were another 40k's of dirt & probably corrugated road. Had enough of that for now xxxxxx

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Rainbow Valley & Palm Valley

After leaving Uluru we headed back to Alice Springs. Mt Connor, a 700million yr old rock 3 times the size of Uluru is very visible from the Hwy as you drive towards Uluru.
Curtain Springs, a cattle station run by the Severin family since 1930's does tours of this majestic looking rock. Peter, the 92yr old owner pioneered tours to Ayers Rock & The Olgas in the 1950's.
The last servo before Yulara - diesel price? - $2.06 / L - ouch. We had enough to get us to Yulara which was cheaper there at $1.82 / L. The pub / convenience store / servo  was a nice stop before Yulara. Drinks with the 92yr old owner was interesting with his yarns of how things were done way back when Adam built the Ark.

We drove for 100kms looking at these grey bushes. Up close they are Leptospermum plants with little pink flowers. They were thriving in the sand dunes.

We thought we should see what Rainbow Valley looked like. It was a relief to get there after driving on 22kms of badly corrugated stretch of dirt they call a road. The exhaust pipe rattled - again - !
I think this a clay pan in front of these rainbow coloured rocks. They are best seen before sunset, so 3pm was a compromise with still great rock colours.
We had experienced really bad bush flies @ Uluru & The Olgas, so we thought we'd buy ourselves some of these nets that go over your hat  & face to keep the flies away from crawling up your nose. Good thing we had them, as our bodies were covered in them, the moment we stepped out of our car.
They look stupid, but are very effective & are worn by at least 50% of people.

The next day we landed back in Alice Springs to do some day trips such as out into the rest of West MacDonnells. We weren't disappointed with Palm Valley in the Finke National Pk.
Finke Gorge & it's Palm Valley were just beautiful to explore. These Red Cabbage Palms are found in only 1 other place in Oz - Lawn Hill - far Nth Qld.  These palm trees are reported to be 200 - 300yrs old. Just amazing.

High clearance 4WD was essential in getting there. We soon found out why. Deep sandy areas driving up Finke river, crossing a few water patches & eventually doing some truelly 4WD work.
We had the vehicle crawling at a snails pace over undulating rock along the river for the last 2.6kms before Palm Valley.

The scenery along the slow course was special such as above & below pic.

This is 1 view along the rim, before descending into the river bed. (below pic)

Along the river bed we saw a family of black footed rock wallabies. This was our 1st sighting of these quiet roos. They live in the caves along the rocky walls along the valley & in other areas of the East & West MacDonnell ranges.

This area is called Cycad Gorge for a good reason. It is just near Palm Valley.

This rare species of cycads  are only found here in Finke Nat Pk. Just 1 area on the shaded side of the rock walls that stretch high above the Finke R. The bigger 1's are reported to also be 200 - 300 yrs old. Amazing how they survive on so little rain. Apparently plants life these in the MacDonnell ranges survive on the moisture that continually seeps down from the top of the gorge to the areas where plants like these cycads live.
The contrasting colours between the gorge walls & the greenery was just beautiful, & these pics really don't do it much justice.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Olgas & Uluru

Ayers Rock & The Olgas were tourist spots not be missed. You know why when you are still 40kms from the 'rock'. The Olgas -Kata Tjuta - meaning many heads, is 40kms up the road from Uluru, is a series of 36 weathered rock domes,estimated to be around 500million yrs old. We visited this 1 1st so we could grab the walks & the sunset in the same day. The Anangu people have called this area home for at least 22,000yrs.
I couldn't pass up a chance of showing some of the unusual trees around the area, as well as showing off the magical views of theses famous rocks 26kms away.I think the skinny trees are desert oaks. 
The Walpa Gorge - meaning windy - is a desert refuge for plants & animals. Once you get into the confines of shade from the towering rock walls, the temp* changes dramatically. You go from being warm, to really chilly winds.
The 'Valley of the Winds' walk was a must do. The walk rating of 'difficult in places with loose rocks' didn't deter us. The full circuit is 7.4kms & averaging 3hrs long. We had to climb over rocks, walk up & down rock slopes. The views in rest spots were magical. the 1st stop after 1/2 hr of hard slog gave us an idea of how good the walk might be for views.
This is the Karu lookout. Interestingly, the rest of the walk is closed if temps exceed 36*. Summer temps in the open areas reaches >45*C
 This magical window view is from the Karingana lookout, 2.7kms from the car park. We had to negotiate over terrain that was challenging in places & very steep, walking over 45* angle rock faces. The icy chill could be felt when climbing through out the different domes.

The rest of the walk was down between the domes & through creek beds. These 2 pics are a panorama L-R.
Worth the hard walking. Out in the open, the track was quite rough on my feet.
After 2 3/4 hrs, the Valley of the winds was finished. Windy it was, especially between the domes in the shade. It would have to be the most difficult & picturesque (besides Kings Canyon) walk I've ever done.

Sunset over The Olgas was worth the waiting around for. The highest dome is also 200mtrs higher than Uluru.

Uluru / Ayers Rock is a sandstone monolith standing 348mtrs high. 2/3 of it is below the surface.
 These photos are whilst driving around the base.(We were supposed to walk the 10.6km, but my shins were still paining from the previous 2 big walk @ Kings Canyon & Olgas)

We did go on 1 shorter walk in the morning - a guided walk with 2 rangers - 1 aboriginal elder from the Anagu tribe & guide who translated when the elder spoke in his native tongue. We were shown the Mala walk & Kantju Gorge. Along the way we were shown were the elder men taught children, women doing secret womens business cave & the 'kitchen'.

The Kantju Gorge - above area- is a small water hole not used by the aboriginal people so that the native animals could come to drink from it. (peoples food source)
Sunset @ Uluru was a special treat as well. so many colour changes. Have  2 to show you.