Thursday, 19 May 2011

Boulia, Alice Springs & West MacDonnell ranges part 1

We left the sometimes safer confines of bitumen to dirt road on 16th, leaving Boulia for the Plenty Hwy & destination where ever for the day. Until we get sick of driving & the dust for the day was part of the goal. After 5-6 hrs driving we stopped at Jervois station in the NT. Before setting off we had to lower the pressure in all 8 tyres.
The van is lovely is dust free here at the start of some 800kms of dirt, dusty & corrugated road through to Alice Springs. Daunting idea,  count down 100kms at a time :) Driving through the "Channel Country" was pretty special after a great summer of flooding rains - the Diamentina River systems past  Boulia gave us an oasis on the edge of the desert
Green Mitchell Grass to the horizon .... well for a while any way :)
  We reached the NT border @ lunch time .... another milestone ticked off

 Opening the van up for lunch at the NT border gave us a little dust, but not much .........We coped with the dust pushing on till we got to Jervois Station - approx 600 kms from Boulia & 200kms more of dirt.
Opening the van up was disappointing - bull dust covering the stove top,over all surfaces & also the bed, coming through the back wall rangehood vent :(( sad face & 1hr cleaning including shaking out the bedspread & pillows. Plan B morning  duct tape the back vent & 1hr drive to review the situation again - worse. Remove duct tape & open 1x 4 seasons hatch towards facing backwards.We finally made it to bitumen after 3 hrs more dirt that morning.

We stopped @ Gem Tree (east of Alice Springs) to get $50 fuel at $2.10 / L & pump the tyres again to bitumen pressures.
Before Gem Tree we were treated with more amazing views of the Harts Range - east of the East MacDonnell Ranges around Alice Springs
Harts Range above pic
Soon after passing Harts Range we could see the East MacDonnell in the distance...such beautiful views whilst driving. We found our van park in Larapinta Dr & booked in for 3 nights. (there's no free camping in the Alice)
On 18th we visited the Alice Springs Desert Park - hundreds of species of plants & animals found across Central Australian Deserts can be seen here. The park backs onto the beginning of the west MacDonnell range - glorious views & smells around the park. Various desert habitats are depicted here including Desert Rivers, Sand Country & Woodlands.
 The plant above is a Limestone Fuchsia which when ground & drunk or washed with, treats colds & chest complaints.
This is the Sturt's Desert Pea plant.
We walked around with audio tapes & aboriginal actor Aaron Petterson describes the significance of what various plants were used for , be it food source, medicinal or for making tools etc.
 There was a raptor show - this is the Brown Kite & below is a whistling kite
 There was also a nocturnal animal house with some rare & endangered animals on display. This little guy is I think a Lake Eyre Dragon

The Thorny Devil lives in sandy deserts & ants are his food supply - mmm yum.
 This very cute fellow is the Bilby - he looks better than the Bunny
 The Mala is endangered because of feral cats. Not quite as cute as the Bilby, but they roamed the deserts mostly at night.
 There were many birds in huge enclosures so we can see them up close.

Also in fenced off areas were kangaroos, like these lazy 2.

There was also a cinematic journey through 4 billion years of desert creation. This mural lined the entrance wall

Once the 'movie' was finished, the screen came down to show the magnificent views of the  MacDonnell's at it's present stage.

Anzac Hill overlooks  the Alice. Of course bus loads of people & others, including us flock up there for the sunset views.

The views were rewarding, & of course me being a trigger happy camera owner, has far too many of this 1 sunset. Just don't know which ones to delete!!!

The next day we decided to head out tp the shorter drive West MacDonnell attractions. Thought I'd show you how some of the rock rose up from mother earth all those millions of yrs ago - this pic shows 45* angled rock. Not sure how they survive, but there's different plants & trees are growing up there on those hills.
We headed into Standley Chasm & waited for the midday sun to move over the chasm. We waited & waited way past midday. Thought what we'd seen & taken pics of was enough....................

These are 2 of sequences of photos, but I think you get the idea.

The following pics show just how much plant life grows in amongst the rocks

The colours of rich reds mixed with the green & grew of plants was beautiful to look at.

We then moved onto Simpson's Gap. Just a mere 'gap' in the mt range, with a stream flowing through the centre! The place is serene & colourful with reflective pools.

More plant growing in the impossible

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