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.

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