Monday, July 31, 2017


We needed an early start today as we wanted to go and visit the West MacDonald Ranges and complete the Larapinta Lap.  This is over 400kms and we wanted to stop and check out quite a few of the gorges and sights along the way.   We also needed to be home before dark so that we didn’t meet any wild life along the side of the road on dusk.  Kathy and I had spoken to the caretakers at the caravan park the night we booked in and they had provided a map for us with, in their opinion, the best places to stop and see, as there is no way we could have stopped at every stop along the way in a day.

We left around 8.15am and our first stop was at Ellery Creek Waterhole. 

The girls
Barb, I and Kathy
Ellery Creek Waterhole

 These tourist attractions are well signed and the walks are easy with a paved path to walk on right down to pretty much the water’s edge.  It was great, even people with disabilities would be able to visit and appreciate the beauty of this region.  The sun wasn’t quite high enough up in the sky for us to fully appreciate the colours of the ranges, but it definitely was a very pretty spot, and we did take quite a few photos.  The thing that fascinated me was that there was proper sand around the waterhole just as if you were at the beach…  It is not something you expect to see in the desert, but in saying that,  what is sand,  just rocks before worn about by the elements and time.   

Amazing patterns and lines in the rocks.
 One of the other things that really caught my attention here was the different lines and colours of the rocks,  they were almost zebra like in their markings and some were really quite pretty.  Nature really is a very creative work of art, and how blessed we are that we have a God who has created all of this for our enjoyment…

Our next stop after Ellery Creek was the Orche Pits.  This was probably another 15 or 20 kms down the road, and they were pretty spectacular.  

Ochre Pits - vibrant colours
Ian and Kathy at the Ochre Pits
Steve and I


This time, although the walk was easy, there was no paved path to walk along.  Also to actually see the different colours of the Orche, you needed to walk down into the creek bed and walk along the creek until you came to the spot where they really are quite beautiful with all their different colourings.  I will have to let the photos speak for themselves.  It never ceases to amaze me that so many different vibrant colours can flow on from each other.   You were not allowed to take the Orche as this is one of the Aboriginal’s sacred sites, and I felt privileged that we were able to go and see it.  We have been told on more than one occasion now that the Aboriginals in this area are very easy to work with and get along with, and that is pretty evident when you see the amount of places we can visit that really do hold a lot of spiritual, and cultural significance to them.

Some of the views we saw along our drive.

Almost like hedges are built around the hills and yet they are all natural.
 After the Orche Pits we headed to Omiston Gorge.  This was perhaps Steve’s favourite spot and it really is quite lovely.  This is a pretty busy little place, and there is even a café/kiosk situated in the car park at this gorge. We had bought morning tea with us, so decided to have a quick cuppa before we went for the walk.  John went for a walk to the kiosk and shouted himself a sausage roll. He has a fetish for sausage rolls, so he was happy.  The rest of us had our cuppa and one of the muffins that we had cooked the previous evening…
Beautiful gorge...
Sharing a special moment
John and Barb at Omiston Gorge

he walk to the gorge wasn’t too long.  It was really quite breathtaking; the coloured cliffs framed by the cloudless blue sky and hovering over the pools and honed smooth rocks. The occasional ghost gum seemingly protruding out from the contrasting bare rock seemed as though they wanted to be noticed. The annual event of the very cool pool waters that did not hold its oxygen well, was evidenced by the fish that had died from the protozoa living in their gills during this annual cycle. The scampering from one rock to another reminded me (Steve) of my younger more youthful days and gave me a sense of achievement (and exercise). The many footprints in the flood formed sand dunes showed that water had not flowed for a while. Being winter the sun revealed itself to very few places making the water very cold (the challenged for a dip faded fairly quickly after a test with  the toes. My (Steve) walk lasted for an hour trying to take shots for Karen and satisfying my curiosity and the sense of a challenge climbing and scampering rocks – what were other people walking that far for?

Lots of dead fish... killed by the algae in the cold water.

 After Steve got back from his walk, it was time to head off again, this time heading to Glen Helen Gorge which was where we planned to have our picnic lunch.  By this stage of the day it was heading on towards 2pm and we still had quite a bit we wanted to do and see.   There is a bit of a resort (if you could call it that) at Glen Helen Resort, a sort of caravan park, a couple of cabins, and a café, and if I can remember correctly perhaps there was a petrol bowser also.    We found a bit of a shelter shed with a seat in the middle that served as a table for us to prepare our picnic sandwiches.  
Our lunch stop
Glen Helen Gorge
Whilst we were finishing our lunch we got a visit from a friendly dog.  We thought he was quite cute from afar as he was wearing a scarf around his neck. 
His scarf told us not to feed him
"Do not feed me"
 It was only as he got closer that we realized that the scarf around his neck had the words, “Please do not feed me” written on it.  Kathy was still finishing off her sandwich and he planted himself next to her looking at her with the most mournful eyes as if to say, please feed me.  I am sure that he has no idea what was written on his scarf, for if he did, he would have found some way of getting rid of it. 

Glen Helen Gorge
Steve taking a photo of us taking a photo of him....
 After lunch we went for a walk down to the mouth of the gorge.  We had walked along the wrong side of the creek to be able to go down into the gorge.  Maybe it was a good thing, because otherwise we might have been tempted to go for a lot longer walk than her time permitted.   This whole area is really quite spectacular, and I am sure that if we came out this way again you could spend a whole month just in this area alone.  I think next time, we would take the van and camp at these spots over a week period so that we could do a lot more walks and explore the gorges a lot more…  The cliffs at Glen Helen Gorge tower above the creek running below.  This creek has water in it, and it was crystal clear, just like mirror, reflecting the cliffs above….  There were lots of little fish swimming there also, and you  could clearly see them as they moved around the pebbles on the bottom of the creek. 

It was a little sad that we didn’t have the time to explore this gorge more but we had a good 180kms back to Alice Springs and we wanted to see the Hermannsburg Historical Precinct in Hermannsburg on the way home.

We had heard really good things about their café there and the wonderful afternoon teas that they do and their famous apple owstrudel.  For about 50 kms before we got there, the standard joke on the UHF between us all was,  “Oh I can smell the strudel, can you”.  We got there just on 3.45pm and as we paid to go in, the lady in reception told us that she thought we were too late for afternoon tea as they close at 4pm and she was pretty sure they would have done their till for the end of the day by now.  Barb took off at record speed, and headed straight to the Café, where they allowed her to order the apple strudel as take-aways, but we couldn’t order hot drinks.  We weren’t really phased by this as it was the apple strudel we had really come for.  We just ordered cold drinks, and a few apple strudels and a couple of apple and rubarb muffins…  The ladies in the café though were really lovely,  they warmed up our muffins and apple strudel and gave us a couple of little containers with cream in also. 
Their famous apple strudel

Steve enjoying his apple strudel
Afternoon tea under the lemon tree
It was laden with lemons too...
We sat outside under the laden bush lemon tree to enjoy our afternoon tea.  It really did meet up to our expectations, and we thoroughly enjoyed both the strudel and the muffins.

We only had about 45 minutes to wander around the village before closing time.  It must have been a tough life back in those early missionary days,  they were totally isolated out there, and I remember reading about Carl Strelow, the missionary who was called to go to Hermannsburg.  His poor fiancé was left at home in Germany for three years before he was finally able to bring her out to Australia.  He then married her and he took her off to Hermannsburg, which was totally isolated in the desert, what a contrast to life back in Germany,  it’s a wonder she didn’t run a while.  They had eight children whilst living out here in the Never Never….

The School

 Aboriginal painter Albert Namatjura was born near here and some of his relatives still paint here, so we were delighted to find some example of his artwork and a rather good display of paintings of more recent artists.

Albert Namatjira Painting
Work from local artists
We left Hermannsburg just after 5pm for the 110km drive back to Alice Springs.  We drove through Brumby territory and saw a few of these majestic wild black horses along the side of the road… A little scary on dusk, but we made it safely back to Alice Springs a little after 6.30pm.  We fuelled up on our way back into town, and headed back to the caravan park, tired but happy.  It had been a great day out seeing this wonderful country in which we live.  We had an easy dinner, taco’s and salad, finished with warmed up left over blueberry muffins, custard and a dab of ice cream.    It wasn’t quite as cold tonight but we were still pretty tired and  wind burnt  so we called it a night around 9pm.  Had a heap of photos to sort out, but somehow they will need to wait for another day,  bed called….


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