AUSTRALIA: EXPLORING THE WEST MACDONNELL RANGES

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Our big round trip through the central, eastern and southern part of Australia started from Adelaide where we hired an Apollo 2-berth camper that would be our home for the next 67 days. The first part of our journey was a real adventure in this time of the year: traveling through the outback to the Red Centre of Australia with temperatures up to 45° C. Of course, we also visited Ayers Rock and the Olgas – the main tourist attractions –, but the real challenge was the West MacDonnell Ranges National Park, situated west of Alice Springs, which consists of mountain ranges with numerous gorges, gaps, waterholes and creeks. This area is an outstanding example of an ancient landscape sculptured over time by climatic elements. It is only visited by nature lovers and hikers, there is one asphalt road that leads to Glen Helen Gorge and if you want to continue your trip farther west, you need a 4WD!

Following the Namatjira Drive, we passed through a spectacular landscape: although the road is more or less straight, we went up and down following the natural lines of the foothills. The Simpsons Gap, a small canyon with red rocks, was the first place where we met black-footed rock wallabies. They look like small kangaroos, one of them even had a baby in her “pocket”!

Ellery Creek Big Hole appeared to be a beautiful waterhole (we would rather say „lake“) surrounded by fascinating red rocks. There was a small beach and the water was really refreshing: we took a bath and had the feeling as if we were in paradise. It is astonishing that all rest and recreation areas in the national park are equipped with signposts (made of wood), parking lots and nice picnic places, often with BBQ. Nobody destroys them, you don’t see any rubbish around, visitors are quiet and polite.

How beautiful it was to visit the Ochre Pits, a colorful outcrop of ochre on the banks of a sandy creek. The ochre has been used for centuries by the Aboriginals for painting and there is a penalty of 5000 dollars if you “steal” a piece of ochre!

The most astonishing place in the Park was Ormiston Gorge, a breathtakingly beautiful gorge with sheer red walls and a permanent waterhole, surrounded by sandy beaches and high gum trees. The 1.5 hour hiking tour “Ghost Gum Walk” takes you around the lake and offers a spectacular view of the surroundings. It got its name by the ghost gums, trees with a white trunk that shines brightly under the moonlight against the red rocks, which makes the whole area quite spooky at night.

Finally we arrived at the end of the asphalt road, in Glen Helen Gorge. Here we found a nice spacious camping site on the bank of the Finke river. A short walk took us to the gorge and a large waterhole, where we could see many birds.

On the road back to Alice Springs next day, we were surprised by a big kangaroo passing the road in front of our camper. This member of the kangaroo family is called “Euro” in Australia and appears very frequently in the MacDonnell Mountain Ranges. We will always remember our trip to this magnificent region!

 

 

 

 

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