West MacDonnell Ranges
We headed out for our 3 nights in the West MacDonnell ranges, which was a bit of a test for the vans on how they performed “off grid”. The outcome pretty good we reckon 3 nights is achievable with our water capacity – batteries weren’t a real problem with the sun during the day. Nights were very cold but not intolerable. We camped at a place called Ellery Creek Big Hole which was a little bush camp (about 15 or so sites) a couple of hundred metres from Ellery Creek. This was to be our base for the next 3 nights. What a magic place and it’s a bit of like “what another gorge” out here. They are incredible sites and absolutely magic to access to these places. I keep saying we don’t know how lucky we are in Australia. We got there about midday and soaked up the place for the rest of the afternoon.
Next day we back tracked about 40 kms and then headed to Hermannsburg and then out to Palm Valley. Hermannsburg is a mission settlement with very little in the way of facilities. There is a famous indigenous choir here based at the Lutheran church who have translated and sing many of the hymns in their indigenous language. It didn’t feel a welcoming place but then we didn’t have a lot of time. It was a 44 km off road trip from Hermannsburg out to palm valley and back so it ended up a long day. Palm Valley is unique in that it is the only place in Central Australia that a specific variety of palm exists and then only in this couple of km stretch of gorge. In addition the walls of the gorge are covered in cycads. The trek in whilst not extreme proved challenging and this makes the place even more interesting because not many people have the capability to get to the site.
Our second full day in the West MacDonnell’s Di, Wendy and I took the short trip Glen Helen, again another gorge and walk, we even managed a coffee. On our way back we went into Ormiston Gorge and what can I say another fantastic place. It also has a small camp area and we have marked this down for a future trip. Our last stop on our return was the ochre pits, which is the area where the pigments for the various indigenous rock art were mined.
This morning we packed up and said good bye to Ellery Big Hole and headed back to Alice Springs for a couple of nights to replenish our stocks and get prepared for the next leg from Alice to Mount Isa