In July I travelled to Central Australia for a short break. We arrived in Alice Springs to unseasonal warm weather – 27 degrees, and after collecting a 4WD at the airport we headed through “The Gap” to the town proper. A number of years ago I lived in Alice Springs for 6 months over the summer, so the first thing that struck me was how green it is. The contrast with the red landscape and blue sky is stunning and the view of the MacDonnell Ranges from Anzac Hill quite spectacular.
All the gorges and water holes had a good supply of water due to the recent rains. We visited all the sights along the Red Centre Way between Alice Springs and Glen Helen – Simpson’s Gap, Standley Chasm, Ellery Creek Big Hole, Serpentine Gorge, Ormiston Gorge, the Ochre Pits, just past Glen Helen Gorge, Redbank Gorge, and dominating the skyline for most of the drive, Mt Sonder.
We stayed at Glen Helen Homestead Lodge with our room facing the cliffs of the Gorge that tower above the oldest river in the world – the Finke. The setting is really stunning and serene. A great place to indulge in a couple of drinks while the sun sets.
Following the Red Centre Way, we detoured to Palm Valley which definitely requires a 4WD vehicle. The Valley is a maze of sandstone amphitheatres, pinnacles and gorges and is home to the Red Cabbage Palm after which the valley is named. This species of palm is only found in this area and there are about 3,000 adult plants.
Continuing on the Red Centre Way/Mereenie Loop (dirt road) from Palm Valley to Kings Canyon we encountered a number of wild horses, donkeys and camels – not one kangaroo! The cost of diesel at Kings Canyon was memorable – $1.97 per litre and 10 litre Piccadilly box of water – $20.00. Ouch! We chose to walk the 6km rim with the spectacular red sandstone walls 100 metres to the floor of the canyon below us. The road to Yulara is sealed all the way which took about 3 hours with Mt Conner (approx. 300m high) prominently coming into view about 80kms before we reached Yulara.
The “Field of Light” art installation is a once in a life time event, currently on show at Uluru . International artist, Bruce Munro has placed more than 50,000 stems crowned with frosted glass spheres which bloom as darkness falls. The event is on show for one year and will finish on 31st March 2017. As you walk through the solar powered installation the colours of the stems continuously change in colour bringing about a quite spiritual experience.
Uluru’s base walk is about 10kms and Kata Tjuta’s circuit walk is about 7.5kms. We walked these and watched the sun setting on both rock formations over the next 2 days. Unfortunately photo’s don’t do these 2 beauty’s justice. Truly magnificent.