ANCIENT MAJESTIC ORMISTON GORGE
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
322Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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Where I stayed
stuart park holiday park
JOURNEY: Glen Helen, Ormiston Gorge, Alice Springs
WEATHER: 10 degrees @ 8.30. Overcast.
MILEAGE: 19552 KMS
After a night of light drizzle it was time to move on and we needed to complete some business in Alice Springs so we headed back there with a spectacular stop at Ormiston Gorge, just 12 kms from Glen Helen. We had wondered whether to spend a night camping here at the gorge and as it was first in best dressed/sited, we would have a good chance of selecting a site at this time of the morning. It was just before 9am when we reached the national park and Kath explored the camp ground and decided that Glen Helen had been a far superior choice with that gorgeous red wall and Finke River as a back drop.
We read a sign about the Ormiston Pound Walk requiring a swim in freezing cold water to complete the 7km circuit; well that was a definite no-no, especially as the day had not warmed beyond 10 degrees. So we set off to the gorge and waterhole, and this was absolutely magic and we heard the story of Emu Dreaming and saw the white granite in the rocky walls that were the emu eggs. This quiet peaceful ( too early for the school holiday crowds) waterhole is surrounded by towering red cliffs which make stunning reflections in the water; the stark white gums and huge river red gums add dimensions and are mirrored in the water.
We walk through the sandy width of the Finke River, which by the by is the oldest river in the world and we avoided several pools to the chasm and just soaked (mentally) in the natural beauty. This is the masterpiece of these MacDonnell Ranges and no amount of descriptive tourist information prepares you for the reality. We wander about ohing and aahing and stop to admire a Port Lincoln parrot feeding its chick on the ground and strain to see an eagle high up in the trees feeding chicks as well.
At the information shed, we read about the MacDonnell Ranges "Yeperenye" - Caterpillar Dreaming land and the story of the emu. The aboriginal peoples' art and dreamtime stories bring meaning and connect spirit and land. These ranges are not high but present rugged beauty and so many colours, captured by artists such as the famous Namitjira.
The car park is crowded with sightseers as we have breakfast and then leave this fabulous gorge with lots of photos and indelible memories.
The sky is ominous with dark heavy clouds but clears a little as we reach Alice. We get our camping spot- CT 3- at Stuart Park Holiday Park, again without power and with little sun today we think if the weather doesn’t clear that we will upgrade to a powered site tomorrow. A trip into Todd Mall for shopping and stuff, and we discover we are feeling weary and need some chill out time so “back home” to our holiday park where we unpack and settle.
It is interesting to note the different array of campers and their shelters: small cheap tents, camper trailers, more common up here, pulled by muddy dusty 4 wheel drives, come in from the unsealed roads, caravans, motor homes and campervans, rented and owned like ours and the odd mammoth 5th wheeler and fitted -out buses. Alice Springs is a hub for outback travellers, going in all directions. The Northern Territory has a brash feel to it- rough roads, fast cars, big road trains and lots of outdoor action in the vast outback which at this time of the year is more forgiving of travellers’ mistakes than in the searing heat of summer. We are happy to stay on the bitumen of the Stuart Highway, making its way straight and direct to Darwin on the north coast.
The NT is 1/6 the mass of Australia and you are much more aware of aboriginal culture and icons here- they are the original custodians of central Australia and when you drive through their country you admire their ability to survive and flourish in such tough arid environments.
Alice Springs, where “the sun shines everyday” turned on the rain for our 3 nights there, so we changed to a powered site and turned our heater on to combat the 2-10 temperatures and snuggled up in the van with everything we needed. We met up with Brisb nites, Robyn and Graham again and visited them in their cosy van for a red wine late afternoon. We have been bumping into them here and there since Clare, South Australia and agreed to catch up when we get back to Brisbane –October 2011.
We enjoyed the quiet relaxing stay here and were ready to get going again.