Kings Canyon & West MacDonnell Ranges
We were pleasantly surprised when we came upon the campsite at Kings Canyon. We were told it was pretty much just a dust bowl, however we found it was a dust bowl with a pool, a bar, yoga classes (which the girls and I did) and even an indoor lounge area that hosted kids movies! Not a bad dust bowl at all! We were also lucky enough to meet some lovely families while staying there which enabled the kids to have some time away from us adults and do activities such as going on Dingo hunts and playing games of Finska. There were actually quite a few Dingos running around this campsite at night!
The Kings Canyon hike was beautiful. The trek involved climbing to the top of the canyon which had sheer 100m cliff edges that made me slightly nervous at times. Along the hike were amazing lookouts, rock formations, and a little waterhole at The Garden of Eden.
We also walked into the bottom of the Canyon which gave you a different perspective.
We decided to take the short cut road from Kings Canyon up to Alice Springs via the West MacDonnell Ranges. We were reluctant to take another gravel road initially as we were done with unsealed roads, however we are very glad we did. By taking this road it probably saved us a day of travel!
Our first stop after the rough road, was a much worse road which took us into Redbank Gorge. It was here where I could really get a sense of where Albert Namatjira, the famous Watercolour Artist from this region, received his inspiration.
It was then onwards to an ochre pit. This is a place where Aboriginals have been retrieving ochre for thousands of years. Ochre is a clay/sand mixture of varying pigments. It is often used for ceremonial body paint and artwork. I loved the earthy colours.
Our final destination this day was Ormiston Gorge where we stayed the night. Wow, this gorge is amazing. Extensive fire swept through the area in January so the landscape was quite barren, however I found this gave it a particular unique look and enabled the rocky landscape to be seen clearly. We did the white gums trail in the afternoon which enabled us to walk into the gorge and then climb up to an amazing view point.
The following day on the way back to Alice Springs, we stopped in at Ellery Big Hole which was beautiful. No swimming for us though as the water was freezing! The West McDonnell Ranges also encompasses The Larapinta Trail. This is a hike that is 223 kms long (Alice Springs to Redbank Gorge) and most people take about 16 days to complete the hike. I'd love to give that a go one day. We saw a few young women doing it by themselves. What an amazing experience that would be!
Our last stop before arriving back in Alice Springs was a visit to Kathleen Buzzacott's art studio. What a lovely woman she is. Not only did she open-up the gallery especially for us, she also insisted the girls make a bracelet and spoilt them with choc-chip cookies and chocolate milk! It was one of their trip highlights that's for sure!
Back to Alice Springs! We came back to our lovely dust-free (ish) gravel campsite and still no grassy spots available. While in Alice we visited the Desert Park. This is a park which has a huge array of desert plants and animals. It was an fantastic day. We learnt so much as well, as we took part in may of the ranger led walks and presentations. Many of the flowers I have spotted on our hikes were here in the hundreds. This is how the flowers look when watered, so I could get a sense of what some of the landscape would look like after rain.
Back in the town centre, we were able to catch the opening of yet another festival - this time the Desert Song Festival. They started the opening with a musical parade which included performers such as The Central Australian Aboriginal Women's Choir, The Soweto Gospel Choir and others. There was also a premier performance of the new proposed 2nd & 3rd verse to our national anthem. It gave me goose bumps listening to this in the centre of Australia and I was girt with applause from the crowd. If you are interested here are the new lyrics below. We really are getting close to coming home now!!
Australians all let us rejoice
For we are one, and free
We've golden soil and wealth for toil
Our home is girt by sea
Our land abounds in nature's gifts
Of beauty rich and rare
In history's page, let every stage
Advance Australia Fair
In joyful strains then let us sing, Advance Australia Fair.
For sixty thousand years and more
First peoples of this land
Sustained by Country, Dreaming told
By song and artist’s hand.
Unite our cultures from afar
In peace with those first here
To walk together on this soil
Respect for all grows there.
From everywhere on Earth we sing, Advance Australia Fair.
In times of drought and flood and fire
When all but hope is gone
Australians join with helping hands
And wattles bloom again.
Tomorrow may this timeless land
Live for our young to share
From red-rock heart to sun-filled shore
Our country free and fair.
Beneath the Southern Cross we sing, Advance Australia Fair.
Read about it here: www.rap.org.au