11-12 August: More spectacular hiking

Author: Mrs A

Location: Ormiston Gorge & back to Alice Springs

Saturday: Leaving our picturesque camp at Redbank Gorge, we drove a short way to Orminston Gorge along the Western MacDonnell Range towards Alice Springs. We parked up and got dressed up to do a hike.

It was a chilly morning – around 9 degrees with a cold wind which cut through your clothes. It just amazes us how it can go from 29 degrees yesterday to a top of about 15 degrees today!

We’d decided to do the Ormiston Pound hike, a walk that takes you into a spectacular flood plain surrounded by high red walls. We’d done the walk when we visited here years ago, and remembered the awe inspiring scenery we came across.The circuit takes you firstly high up onto the walls of the Pound for spectacular views, before dropping down and winding its way across to a dry river bed, where you rock hop back to the beginning via some permanent water holes – like gold dust in this arid landscape.The colours are so vivid in this incredible air, not polluted by traffic or smoke.As the walls begin to close in on you for the last couple of kilometres you begin to appreciate the beauty of the rocks, not just the ochres, reds and salmons, but also yellows, mauves, purples and much much more. As the sunlight hits the walls above you it reflects into the shadows, creating more colour still – an absolute feast for the eyes. Even Mark’s limited visual palette was amazed.We finished by walking past the waterholes – we recall that last time we were here we had seen some endangered yellow footed rock wallabies drinking here, but this time it was a little too busy for these shy creatures.The final green waterhole is apparently suitable for swimming – though any thoughts of diving into its icy depths were far from our minds as we walked past. It is home to ducks, white faced herons and darters, so definitely supports some aquatic life.We concluded our 9km hike with a burger from the cafe on site – well deserved we thought!

There are many more delights in the West MacDonnell Ranges we have not yet seen, plus the eastern ranges we are yet to visit. We will definitely have to be back. We have run out of time this trip.

After lunch we made our way back to Alice Springs – a little over 100km from this beautiful spot – and set up camp in a random tourist park we came across.

We had only been there seconds and a lady with a black dog came over and asked us how we liked our Zone. It turned out to be Wendy and Mel, fellow Zoners from Albury in southern NSW. After we had set up and showered, we popped over for drinks and to exchange travel stories.True to our experiences to date, yet more lovely Zoners.

Sunday: We had originally planned to move on, but with a long list of tasks to do in Alice Springs before leaving made the decision to stop another night.

Tomorrow we commence our journey across the Plenty Highway, a remote and rough unpaved road which stretches across country into Queensland. There will be no phone signal or internet access, and we are planning to take four days to drive the route to Boulia. It’s 814km door to door, the first couple of hundred kilometres are tarmac, and then it gets slower and rougher.Hopefully we will be back on line by Friday to update you how it went!

So, fresh fruit and vegetables purchased, spares and tools acquired, and online research into road conditions done, we are now as prepared as we can be.

We finished our day with a delicious Asian takeaway shared with Wendy and Mel and a couple of bottles of warming wine. Fabulous!

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