Trip Start Jun 24, 2008
64Trip End Oct 17, 2009
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So we left sticky, humid Darwin and went south again, retracing our journey to Katherine where we had turned north from the west.
Stopping off at Lichfield national park on the way, we drove round to all the sights in 2 days staying overnight at Florence Falls camp area. This afforded us the option of (following local advice) getting to the falls early and enjoying the place before the hordes of coach driven tourists arrived. The advice was good for we'd barely finished changing after our swim in the cool water when 40 or so turned up to follow suit.
The drive to Ayers rock would take us 1200 miles via Alice Springs, all but the last 150 miles (which turns off west) down the stuart highway. We camped off the road by this 'outback' route 3 more nights before Alice Springs welcomed us to the Macdonnell ranges
We saw Simpsons Gap, stayed overnight by Standley Chasm, then went on to Ellery Creek Big Hole, the Ochre Pits and Ormiston Gorge. Altogether, this small detour was magnificent. The pictures we'd seen beforehand didn't do it justice so the scale and variation of the various cliffs, escarpments and valleys were a real suprise.
Having been lucky to have witnessed so many great parklands, Zion park, Bryce canyon and the other amazing terrain of Utah we set these as the benchmark to beat. Along with the canadian rockies, macdonnell ranges is close to our mark and the best scenery we've witnessed in Australia.
Onwards to Ayers after this. The allday drive down got us there by 4.30 ready to see the sunset across its strange and ominous red walls. After the sun was down we drove around the rock and found the east point was very close to the road. The oppurtunity allowed us to clamber on to the lower section for a quick photo to reveal the dying rays of sunlight from under the westerly horizon (still visible around the silhouette of the rock face) making a strange and unique backdrop.
The only dissapointment of our experience at the rock was the £25 entrance fee, so I sold our 3 day passes to some tourists heading down on our way back for half price!
A couple of nights stopover in Alice Springs gave us a chance to rest easy in a camp park after 7 days driving and bushcamping. It's a great relief to have a hot shower when you want one and grab a take away meal for a change.
We left Alice for the east coast with quite some anticipation. The last 4 days in the outback lay ahead and the discoveries of Queensland which would bring us back to the populous east where supplies and services would be easy to obtain again. The worries of mechanical breakdown or any other difficulty which may be magnified by the extreme remoteness of this huge country could soon be forgotten. Would the last 'risky' leg of our journey go well and what would Queensland be like?