West MacDonnell Range

by Petra Bucheli

Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th June, 2019

Our first stop was a bit outside of Alice Springs in the Desert Park. That is an animal park only with regional animals. There were dingos, emus, kangaroos and many bird cages. But our highlight was the house with the nocturnal animals.

We already visited many animal parks in Australia, but that one was gorgeous. We could see a lot from reptiles over mice to spiders. And finally we saw a bilby jumping around.

Then our journey went along the MacDonnell Range. The next stop was at Simpsons Gap. We walked through a sandy river bed to a rock gap behind a water hole.

Next was the Standley Chasm where we need to pay entrance. It is manged by Aborigines. The path led along a dry river bed and there were many burned trees. At the end was a gorge with the rocks raising high. Back at the start was a kiosk and the lady there explained to our question that it burned in January 2019 and the buildings only got away with luck. All the region did nearly get no rain in the last summer (winter in the north). That is rather special as Queensland had big floods and here just nothing.

As it was already later in the afternoon and we had to drive for another hour to our accommodation we did not stop on the other places of interest. We left them for the next day. At the Glen Helen Lodge we had a small room for two nights. Before the sun set we went down to the gorge with the same name. The children played with the stones at the Fink River so we only slowly progressed to the gorge.

On Sunday we first drove to the Redbank Gorge which only could be accessed over a gravel road. Rental car companies usually forbid to drive on gravel roads. That is why we rented a 4WD, because then it is allowed., It was worth it and there were not many other visitors at the gorge. The path to the water hole led at the end over some big rocks which encouraged Jann and Kiara to climb on them. We let Larina walk whenever possible as she does not like too much be carried on the back.

A further stop was at Ormiston Gorge. Here were more tourists but as we hiked the Ghost Gum Walk we were quite lonely. Only there were not that many Ghost Gums (eucalyptus tree with white bark) left as the fire was also here. So we went high above the gorge and could look down. Then the path went down again and ended finally next to a water hole. Back along the river we got to another water hole with much more turists. It was much shorter and easier to get there.

Unfortunately there was not sufficient time left to visit the remaining gorges. On the way back to the accommodation we stopped at the Ochre Pits. Here the Aborigines men take the colour which they use to paint their body for rituals. Women, children and especially tourists are not allowed to take the colour from the rock walls. The fine for violating this rule is $5000.

In the evening we went after dinner along the road over the hill to see the stars better. When a car passed we saw a dingo. He came closer and so we immediately went back to the accommodation. I felt queasy as it happened that a dingo fetched a toddler, even though they were unsupervised. I liked it better when I saw one of them on day time from the car.