Travelling Australia
Wayne & Pam BENTLEY

Tuesday 7th June 2005 to Thursday 9th June 2005

Tuesday 7th June 2005

We were up by 6:am this morning, however it wa about 7:15am before we drove out of the caravan park and headed west on Larapinta Drive.

We drove past the Standley Chasm entry before turning onto Namatjira Drive and continued west on this road. Our First stop on this drive was at 'Ellery Creek Big Hole' where we had a very very short walk to a large waterhole in a gorge or gap between the red rock of the ranges on either side. The wind blowing strongly through the gap and over the cold water was acting just like an air conditioner and 'One of us' was quick to say it was freezing and for once the 'Other One' wasn't arguing with her (not that he ever does....).

Our next stop was at Serpentine Gorge which required a twenty minute walk from the car park to reach this beautiful little gorge which also had a pool of water encased between the steep sides of the red gorge rocks. It really was a picture looking through the gorge and over the water onto the sunlit white trunks and green leaves of the trees against the red cliff face on the other side. Once again, photographs do not do this location justice and you will have to take our word for it, however the photograph included on this page may give some idea of what can be seen here.

There was no water at out next stop which was the 'Ochre Pits' which are in fact the side of a creek bank where the aboriginal community obtained ochre for their ceremonies. The bank included colours of red, yellow and some even looked a little green or blue. It was only a 300 metre walk from the car park and is recommended viewing if passing this way.

From here it was not far before we came to Ormiston Gorge where there is a ranger station and small shop, however 'One of Us' was rather disappointed when the 'Other One' had to tell her the ice cream shop was closed. The walk into Ormiston Gorge was only about 500 metres and once there it was easy to see why this location was pretty popular with the tourists and locals alike. On show here are the spectacular geology and landforms of the MacDonnell Ranges around a near permanent waterhole estimated to be up to 14 metres deep at its southern end. The face of the gorge shows layer after layer of rock formation and the area around it contains an interesting variety of native fauna and flora, including a number of relict plant species remaining from a tropical past.

About five kilometres further down Namatjira Drive we came to Glen Helen Gorge where there is a resort situated, however, athough the gorge may not have had the appeal that some of the others had on us, 'One of Us' did get her ice cream here so she was pretty happy with that stop.

After we left Glen Helen Gorge we also left the sealed road so we deflated the tyres of the patrol to about 25 psi to smooth out the corrugations in the road before we continued west on Namatjira Drive for about 37 kilometres, during which time we passed the entrance to Redbank Gorge. As we hadn't heard a lot about this gorge and we were not sure how long it was going to take us to get to Kings Canyon on the unsealed road, we decided not to take the 16 kilometre diversion to that gorge at that time.

We now found ourselves traveling south and made a stop at a rest area on top of a hill around 12 kilometres further on. The view from this stop was brilliant, particularly over Tnorala (Gosse Bluff) which is the impact area of a 600 metre wide comet over 142.5 million years ago. About thirty five kilometres later we turned west again onto the Mereenie Loop Road which travels through aboriginal land and required a permit to travel this road, fortunately we had obtained ours the previous day.

From here it was another one hundred and fifty four kilometres to Kings Canyon on some corrugated and at times stony road, however we made it without any problems and only one stop at a lookout that gave distant views of the ranges around Kings Canyon. We arrived at Kings Canyon Resort at about 3:10pm and after paying the $26 for an un powered site for one night, we set the tent up and huffed and puffed into the blow up mattresses (with an air compressor of course) and made ready for a night away from the caravan.

Once set up we drove to Kings Canyon itself and after looking at the short walk, decided to take it right then, instead of waiting until morning. We set off on the walk that took us along the bottom of the Canyon for about thirty minutes, providing stunning views of the canyon and the walls on either side. This is an amazing location with so many postcard photograph options, well worth the drive to get here. We walked out of the canyon about an hour after entering it and as the sun was starting to set.

We then returned to the Kings Canyon Resort and enjoyed a chicken and salad dinner before settling for a well deserved nights rest.

Ellery Creek Bighole


Serpentine Gorge


Kings Canyon

Wednesday 8th June 2005

We woke up at about 4:30am to the sound of rain on the tent top and while 'One of Us' kept the ZZZZ's coming from her bed, the 'Other One' had to slip (or fall) out of his sleeping bag and zip up the outer door cover to keep our beds dry. Fortunately it did not rain very heavy for long but it did continue to sprinkle from time to time right through until after we had packed up and driven away from Kings Canyon.

Packing up was made more difficult due to the wet tent and the fact it was still sprinkling for most of the time we were attempting to put all our gear in the right place. This was made even worse for both of us as 'One of Us' ended up having a cold shower....

As it had rained overnight and was still wet and sprinkling, we decided that the 'Rim Walk' of Kings Canyon would be closed so we set off back to Alice Springs and a dry caravan, however this time we headed south east on the sealed road toward Lasseter Highway. After about 100 kilometres we turned off the sealed road again, this time onto Ernest Giles Road. At the intersection we spoke with a fellow who stated he was in charge of maintaining the road and that it was a bit rough and he wouldn't take his car on it, however after speaking with him for a few minutes he must have figured that we possibly did know a little about roads like this and stated we wouldn't have a problem, and he was right.

This road took us through some red sand hill country that was quite different to some that we had previously been through, then out onto the usual more barren ground, then back into some break away country.

Along the way we encountered a couple of 'Bustard' (no we are not swearing) birds that did not seem too worried about us as they wandered alongside then crossed the road not far from us. It is not a common sight as they are supposed to be good to eat, but they are becoming more common we believe.

We hadn't traveled far from that sighting when we saw a herd of about thirty or more camels on the side of the road, with one or two crossing in front of us. '"One of Us' really did become excited and the 'Other One' had to cover his ears while she was exclaiming her joy using some rude words. Other than some kangaroos and cows, we didn't encounter a lot more wild life for the rest of the one hundred kilometre length of Ernest Giles Road.

We stopped when we reached Stuart Highway to pump up the tyres on the Patrol and while there, a couple of young blokes who were waiting for a pickup, came over and chatted for about twenty minutes, They were erecting solar telephone systems in some of the aboriginal communities around the centre of Australia and we had a very interesting chat for a while. Their delivery arrived and we had the tyres pumped up so we then set off on the last 136 kilometres north on Stuart Highway to the caravan park and our caravan where we arrived at about 12:30pm. From then on it was clean up, dry the tent out, put things away and complete the last two days activities on the web site before putting our feet up for the rest of the day.

Tenting it at Kings Canyon


What a Bustard - crossing the road


Camels on Earnest Giles Road

Thursday 9th June 2005

Not a lot of action today as we both woke feeling it was time to have a rest day. Well it would have been a rest day if it hadn't been for the washing that needed to be done after our dusty roads and the Patrol that was under the layer of red dirt somewhere.

While 'One of Us' tackled the washing in the caravan park laundry, the 'Other One' went looking for the Patrol, then discovered it was that pile of red dust outside the caravan, well that is what it looked like anyway. After a few inquires we discovered there was a car wash in Alice Springs so that was one task that had to be completed. First there was the requirement to find a replacement battery cap as it appears one of them must have come loose on the corrugated roads and fallen out.

While 'One of Us' kept an eye on the washing (so she said) the 'Other One' took the Patrol into town and located a battery supply outlet where the young fellow behind the counter went out the back and located a battery cap off an old battery they had there. This was done at no charge at all and it was really appreciated.

Next came a visit to Impaja Television office where an application for access to the Impaja channel on the satellite system was lodged. This will only apply whilst we are in the Northern Territory, however it will help in some locations where reception is either poor or unavailable using the conventional aerial.

Then it was off to the car wash where a considerable amount of red dirt was left on the floor after the Patrol had a good clean up, on the outside at least. This included a good clean under the bonnet to ensure there was no battery acid left splashed around due to the lost battery cap.

After returning to the caravan for a while, "One of Us' suggested she would like a drive around the town so off we went, going along the Todd River and passed the casino before ending up on top of Anzac Hill which overlooks the town and the ranges all around Alice Springs. The view from here was quite amazing and well worth a visit by anyone traveling through.

From here 'One of Us' needed a therapeutic visit to some shops so we made a few small purchases from the KMart and Coles stores before walking out of Liquorland with a cold bottle of Asti Spumanti for guess who... (Not mentioning the Wolf Blass Cab Sav though).

We were back at the caravan by about 4:35pm where we stayed for the rest of the day, having drinks with Doug and Pam at about 5:30pm until 7:pm.

Tomorrow is another day and we expect a little more action then. We have booked in to remain at this caravan park until Monday 13th June as we believe there is still quite a bit to see yet and also the Finke Desert Race in on this long weekend in Alice Springs which may be interesting.

Lasseters Cassino - Alice Springs

The Anzac Memorial on Anzac Hill

Alice Springs from Anzac Hill