Monday, July 31, 2017


Barb’s husband John decided he needed a day off today.  He had a few little modifications he wanted to make to the van, and a few little fiddly jobs he wanted to get done, so he decided to stay at home.  Meanwhile the rest of us all headed out to the Alice Springs Desert Park.  We had planned to see a  few things today… a visit to the Alice Springs Desert Park, in particular to catch the bird show which we thought started at 10.30am.   Then we thought we would wander around the Olive Pink Botanical Gardens in the afternoon. 
Arriving at the Alice Springs Desert Park
Mosaic in the ground at the entrance
Wooden seating at entrance...
 We arrived just on 10am to be told we had missed the bird show as it actually starts at 10am and we would have a good 8 minutes’ walk to get up to the Amphitheatre where it was being held.    Once the show starts, they lock the entrance gate so if we were late we would not be allowed in.   There was a second showing at 3.30pm.  We thought when driving out there, it didn’t look too impressive, it was tucked away in the bush, and it seemed to just blend into the environment.  It cost us $59 for us both to get in and we initially thought that it was pretty expensive.  Thankfully, we were proved wrong.   Since we missed the bird show, Jeremy (one of the rangers) gave us some maps on the park. 
Amazing tapestry that is hug on the wall at the entrance to the theatre
This park also had the times for various talks and displays printed on the backside of the map.  He informed us that there was the  movie ”Changing Heart” which was a 20 minute theatrical film where desert evolution comes to life and it was showing in the theatre and it was due to start in about 15 minutes, so we thought we would go and see that.  It was actually very good and very informative and we were quite impressed by it.  In fact, we were even more impressed when it was over and the huge screen dropped down to reveal huge plate glass windows that overlooked the ranges behind.  It was totally unexpected and a brilliant end to the movie.  
The screen dropped to reveal the mountain range scenery that is a back drop to the park.
Looking at our map, we discovered that at 11am there was a talk being given on “Aboriginal Survival in the Desert” at Awaye Flat, which was in between the Desert Rivers part of the park, and the Sand Country.  We still had about 15 minutes until the presentation was due to start so we wandered up through the Desert River section of the park looking at the different plants and the birds.. 
The old bull frog
Heading down to the presentation on "Aboriginal Survival in the Desert"
The Australian Bustard
One of the many wildflowers growing in the park.
There was obviously a lot more to this park that we first realized and we kind of worked out there and then that we would quite possibly be spending the whole day here if we wanted to see a good part of the park.   We arrived just as the presentation had begun.  Jeremy, one of the Aboriginal Rangers who was very passion about the Aboriginal culture and customs, was giving it.  This certainly came across in his talk.  He was both informative and entertaining and I learnt a lot today about the different plants in the desert and how they used them for their food and also for medication.
Jeremy our Aboriginal Ranger presented a talk on "Aboriginal Survival in the Desert"
He was very passionate about his culture and it made it very interesting for us.
Tools and food
Made from the bark of trees
made from the knobs on the gum trees
Witchetty Grubs and fungi
different berries they chew
Steve inspecting their bowl made the the knob out of a gum tree
Their weapons
Sharing it with Barb
Learning how to throw a boomerang
  He shows us a lot of the tools the aboriginal folk made and the different  sort of woods and materials they used to make them.  I found this fascinating as some of their bowls actually looked like turtle shells, but since there are no turtles out in the middle of the desert, they make their bowls from the gum tree knots.  These bowls are then engraved with symbols that represent the dreamtime stories of their areas.   Finding their food is done by trial and error, they taste and if it doesn’t kill them, it is OK.  This information is then passed down from generation to generation along with the dreamtime stories.  He showed us the different grass seeds that they use to crush and make flour for their breads, and the different berries and saps that they use.  He showed us what to look for when looking for the witchery grubs, and how to dig down and get them.  Apparently, they taste a little like a runny egg or scrambled egg.  I am afraid that I still don’t think I could come at eating one.  They are very good for you and very high in protein.  He told many other stories also, too many to document, but one thing for sure is, that when wandering through the desert now, I am viewing the plants in a totally different light, and as I look at them, I wonder what miracle cures they hold or what sort of food they become to our indigenous peoples. 

We did talk to Jeremy for a while after his presentation and he allowed us to take some foods with some of his artifacts. 

 Ian had wandered off whilst we were still talking to Jeremy and as we finished talking he came back to let us know that he had found the Nocturnal House, and it was definitely worth viewing.  Apparently, it is the largest of its kind in Australia.   

 Before heading to the Nocturnal house we decided to back track a little and check out the bird aviary, as we had seen it on the way to the presentation by Jeremy, but we would have been late if we had stopped and gone inside.  it was great.  So many birds, and we were able to get some great photos of them.
 On our way to the Nocturnal house we came across some lots of flowering wildflowers and my favoutite would have been the Stuart Desert Peas…   

Heading to the Nocturnal House

 Seeing the Stuart Desert Pea was one of the highlights of my day as it was one of the flowers I wanted to see whilst in the Northern Territory.
One of the highlights of my day

The buds of the Stuart Desert Pea
 After photographing the flowers,  we continued over to the Nocturnal House.    It was really very good, it houses a huge range of animals from lizards, geckos, snakes, spiders, bats, bilbies, rats, and insects.  It was very clear to see them in their natural surroundings and we spent quite a lot of time wandering through there. 
Thorny Devil
Central Netted Dragon
Cane grass dragon
Blistered Pyrgomorph
Desert Death Adder
Acacia Stick Insect
Earless Dragon
Pygmy Mulga Goanna

 We had a much clearer view of the bilbies here than we did in Charleville when we were there a couple of years ago. 

Bilbies at play in the Nocturnal House
 We also got to see some of the little cave bats in their natural environment.
 By the time we got out of the nocturnal house, we were feeling a little hungry so decided to head head back towards the café to have a bit to eat.  We hadn’t packed a picnic lunch today because we expected to be back at the caravan in time for lunch before heading out again in the afternoon.    On our way back to the café, we stopped off to see the emu’s and dingoes.
wild dingoes
Emus at the Desert Park

  The café was pretty expensive, but we settled on a chicken pie along with a hot chocolate each.  It was quite cool today so something hot when down well.
So what does everyone do whilst having lunch..... Check their phones of course

After lunch Steve and Ian wanted to go for a walk through the Sand Country to see what was in there, and Kathy took off to see the birds and Kangaroos in the Woodlands.  We had planned to all meet at 2.30pm at the Meeting Point H to hear a presentations on “Incredible Edibles” – discovering a living pharmacy in the desert.  

Once again our presenter was Jeremy, and he very enthusiastically told us about 4 different plants or animals that the Aboriginal people in this area eat or use for medication. 
Honey Ant

 The first was the honey ant, he told us how they dig for them, how they rub them off their honey, and how they suck it out of their bottoms without killing the ant.  (that is unless they sting them real bad, and then they squeeze them).  One thing I learnt about the aboriginal culture today is that they are very big on sharing and caring.  They only take what they need, leaving the rest for someone else.  They do not hoard up.  Even when it comes to cash they share.  They believe that if you are greedy and take it all, than the spirits will not be happy with you and something will happen to you sooner or later…  
The bush coconuts
 The second plant he showed us was the Bush Coconut.  The tree produces a sort of coconut as a form of resistance in protecting itself from the parasite that lays its egg in the branch. The egg hatches into a lavre which then secretes a substance that looks and tastes like coconut (hence the name bush coconut)  The aboriginals crack the green ones open, eat the coconut flesh, and the lavre in the centre.   Once they turn black they have dies and are no good for eating…
The witchetty grub
 The third Incredible Edible that he showed us was the Witchetty Grub.  This grubs eat and burrow into the roots of the acacia tree.  The Aboriginals know to look for cracks in the ground under the tree and this is evidence of the witchetty grub being in the roots.  They then dig down until they find the hollowed out root and often will find several witchetty grubs here.  The can be eaten either raw or cooked, but you must pinch off their head before eating them.  They are high sources of protein for the aboriginals, and actually taste like a runny egg.   
Fruit from the mistletoe
a "snottygobble"
The last incredible edible he showed us was the fruit on a certain kind of mistletoe.  This fruit can be eaten or used as a sort of glue for when they make their tools.  He said they actually call the fruit of this mistletoe a “snottygobble” as it looks very much like sticky snot when squeezed between your fingers.  They don’t eat the seed but spit it out as that part of the plant is poisonous.    We did find it all very interesting.  

 From here it was time to head off over to the Amphitheatre as we didn’t want to miss the last showing of the “Free Flying Bird Show” where the free flying birds were showcasing their natural behaviours.  Jeremy walked over with us and let us into the Amphitheatre. 
Off to the Bird show
Willy Wagtail
It was amazing him to watch him pick up a rock to crack open the emu egg.
The Barn Owl
barn owl in flight
Add caption
amazing ability to fly with speed and dart and turn quickly

  This show was definitely the highlight of the day for us.  Several different birds flew in, first the magpie, then the  barn owl, a ghost owl,  hawks, falcons, and they showed us how these birds dive, twist turn and just how smart and fast they were.  It was very educational and entertaining as well.  A highlight of the day and a nice way to end our time at the Desert Park.  I would recommend a trip out to the Desert Park to anyone.  It was well worth the money.
More desert flowers at the Desert Park
Loving the wild desert flowers out in the centre of Australia
We left the park around 5pm, and headed a little further down the road to check out John Flynn’s tombstone.  John Flynn was responsible for the setting up of the “Flying Doctors Service for the Outback” and a much respected member of the Alice Springs community including the aboriginal folk.
At the Flynn Memorial in Alice Springs
Visiting The "Flynn of the Inland" Memorial in Alice Springs
Kathy and Barb at the Flynn Memorial

Reading the information on the changing of the boulder for this memorial
From here, we headed back to the caravan park.    We had decided that there was still heaps to see in Alice Springs so we thought we would see if we could remain an extra night at the caravan park and if we could, we would go and visit the Olive Pink Botanical gardens tomorrow along with a visit to the Ghan Museum.  If we couldn’t stay where we were for another night, we would do these when we returned from the centre in a week’s time.  Fortunately, we are able to have another night at the park so we booked in and paid for it. 

We were all a little wind burnt, sun burnt and tired, when we arrived home and we were also very thankful to John who had stayed home and offered to cook dinner for us.  What a feast he served up too.  Marinated chicken with satay sauce, and turmeric rice and vegetables.  Absolutely delicious.  It was really cold tonight, perhaps our coldest night here yet, so we didn’t linger too long outdoors.  In fact, we actually even turned our heater on tonight to go to bed. 


  © Blogger templates 'Neuronic' by 2008

Back to TOP