Day 776 – 782 26/6 – 2/7 Alice Springs


Hot Air Ballooning just outside of Alice. The balloon has a volume of  400,000 cu ft. Beautiful morning. Putting it back in its cover was the hardest part of the day 🙂

A visit to the Ghan Preservation Society. The old Ghan operated between Adelaide & Alice from 1929 to 1980. It was prone to washouts because the tracks followed the water. Water was required by the steam trains of the time. It was named after the Afghan cameleers that were the main mode of transport before the train.

And as we were driving into town the new Ghan went past. Perfect timing.

And parked at the station as the passengers were off on tours. In 1980 a new standard gauge line was opened between Tarcoola & Alice. This was shorter & bypassed many of the original lines issues.

This is where Alice started in 1871. The Telegraph Station was built and in 1872 the Overland Telegraph Line was completed. It joined Adelaide to Darwin & to Great Britain. Alice Springs was named after the wife of the South Australian Postmaster General.

The view over Alice from the ANZAC Hill Lookout. Alice has a population of 24,000 so it’s not a big town.

We did a road trip for a couple of days out to the West MacDonnell Ranges. Lots of gorges & waterholes.

Simpsons Gap has a permanent waterhole & is one of the few gaps in the West MacDonnell Ranges.

Standley Chasm has been gouged by water flow over millions of years. Recent fires have made the surrounding area black.

Ellery Bighole is another permanent waterhole that is very pretty.IMG_3821

Serpentine Gorge is a small gorge with not much water in it at the moment.


This is how you make a phone call in the great f**k all. It is supposed to amplify your signal. I stress the word “supposed”.IMG_5970

The Ochre Pits are multi layered rocks that was used by the Riginals for ceremonies & was also used to trade with other tribes. Did we mention that after 10am the flies wanted to carry you away.


Ormiston Gorge is the biggest gorge in the area & the most diverse. Uni students were there taking samples of what is living in the water. They do it every year, very dry this year was their comment. There is even a cormorant in residence.


Last stop for the day was Glen Helen Gorge. The only place we saw with water that you would swim in. It was still a bit chilly for us “oldies”.


Stayed at Glen Helen Lodge for the night & had dinner with the escarpment as a backdrop.


Having dinner & who should wander past but Dennis the Dingo.

The next day we came across Gosses Bluff. It sticks out in the middle of a vast flat plain & is in fact a crater from a meteor that hit the earth 140 million years ago. It is 5 km across.IMG_6146

This is what it looks like from above.761709621001_4235579045001_Best-of-Australia-5-6-Gosse-Bluff-and-Glen-Helen (2)

And from inside the crater.GossesBluff2

A couple of small herds of Wild Horses along the road.

This is Albert Namatjira’s birthplace just outside of Hermannsberg. If the Riginals respected their Elders like they say they do they may want to fix up the signage on the house for this most brilliant of their race.

The Finke River Mission at Hermannsberg began in 1877 when two Lutheran missionaries arrived from Germany to educate & covert the Riginals. By 1893 loneliness, illness & the weather had taken its toll & the missionaries left. Since then the missionary has had a number of Pastors & has survived through droughts, World Wars, famine & lack of money. In the 1930’s a tannery was developed with the aim of giving full employment to the locals.


Just happened to be in town when the Beanie Festival was on. Lots of beanies on display.

Another road trip to the East MacDonnell Ranges this time.

Emily Gap has Riginal painting that represent three caterpillars that an ancestral hero is said to have cooked on his dreamtime journey.

Jessie Gap & more caterpillars with an Emu overtone.

Corroboree Rock is another outcrop with significant meaning.

Did the walk around Trephina Gorge ridgetop. Great spot.



N’Dhala Gorge is of significant importance to the Riginals. There are petroglyphs (carvings) all along the gorge that are between 3000 to 10000 years old.

They are hard to see (they are old) but they are there.

A few more animals along the road in the middle of nowhere. What they live on amazes us, hardly any green stuff & very little water.

Artlunga is a deserted gold rush town ~110km east of Alice. It was the first substantial town in Central Australia & would have become the major town instead of Alice except for three things – no water, the gold ran out & the Overland Telegraph decided to go through where Alice is now. The Government Battery & Cyanide Works was established in 1898 to crush & process gold ore. It closed in 1913 when the gold mining activity faded.

A long dusty drive meant lots of gates to open. Herself was getting good at it at the end:)

Gem Tree is a little place north of Alice. A night out of the caravan in a donga & then up early for the fossicking.

Out to the fossicking fields to dig for Garnets. Good fun for a few hours, not sure I would like to do it for a living. Found lots & even a couple that can be cut & polished. Herself was very helpful once she got the difference between dry & wet pans.


IMG_3911_edited-1So we finally got out for a sunset camel ride. Her name was Cocoa.

So Monday was Territory Day & what happens is that everyone buys fireworks (yes you can in NT) & lets them off between 6pm & 11pm. It was like a war had started (ah the good old days).

Alice Springs Reptile Park was next on the list. Lots of slytherins. Ulrika was in her element. Me being a Hufflepuff not so much.

Up close & personal with Olive Python & friends.

For our last night in Alice we had dinner at Hanuman. Food was great. Thanks Rat for the tip.

Quote of the Day

“Secretly we’re all a little more absurd than we make ourselves out to be.”

J. K. Rowling



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