Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Since leaving Alice Springs we’ve spent a lot of time visiting National Parks in the East & West Macdonald Ranges. We weren’t going to do that this trip, but once you get into the area the beauty of it all keeps you there longer than you intended.

Most places we did short walks together, Ken did some longer ones on his own and we just enjoyed being in the spectacular scenery that is all around.

Here’s a list of places we visited:

  • N’Dhalia Gorge via Bins Track
  • Trephina Gorge, (where we met a couple we hadn’t seen for about 25-30 years, were in a babysitting club together when our children were little)
  • Ormiston Gorge
  • Redbank Gorge
Then we went up to Tilmouth Well on the Tanamai Road via back roads, up some more back roads and out onto the highway again staying at Ti Tree.

Another trip took us down 75 kilometres of  dirt road hoping to get to Old Police Station Waterhole, only to find the rest of the road closed, so back to the highway to try the northern approach, but the road was very rough and by the time we got to Whistleduck Creek it was time to make camp.  Quite a nice waterhole and only one other family camped there. We gave up on the idea of getting to Old Police Station Waterhole as it was another 100 k’s of rough rocky road and no guarantee that the road wasn’t going to be closed before we got there.

Coming out of there wrecked our first tyre – must have hit a sharp rock and developed a slow leak because a little while after getting back on the bitumen highway, we had a blow-out and completely wrecked the tyre.  So next stop was Tennant Creek and $285 for a new one.  After having lunch just outside Tennant Creek we carried on to Banka Banka Station to stay the night.  It was a lovely camp ground, and the manager was very friendly.  They light a big communal camp fire at about 6pm, which is a great idea instead of everyone having their own little fires.  I would recommend it to anyone going past that way.

The following day took us to Daly Waters Pub – and who can drive straight past there?  So it was “Beef & Barra” for dinner with the new entertainer “Chillie” proving quite good fun, although not as funny as Frank “The Chook Man”.

After that we started on the “Hot Springs Country” with our first swim being at Bittar Springs, Mataranka, and camping the night at Elsey National Park, then up to Douglas Hot Springs for two nights, one night at Umbrawarra Gorge before stopping off in Kathrerine to get the truck serviced, catch up on washing, shopping etc, and finally get the computer out as we are at a powered site again (but spending the hot afternoon sitting down in the river in the shade).



After leaving Oodnadatta we took a leisurely trip up to Dalhousie Springs where we found  a very busy but not full camping area.  After setting up camp, we headed down to the hot springs pool for a “swim”.  It was a beautiful setting with lots of green everywhere – an oasis in the desert.

Unfortunately because we went down for a swim I didn’t take the camera and forgot to go back for a photo – but it’s one of those places that feature on the travel literature, so I’m sure there are lots of good professional photos out there somewhere.

It was nice enough, but the water was quite hot and I couldn’t stay in long, spent more time sitting on the steps that actually in the water.  There are loads of tiny fish that keep nibbling at you which gets a bit annoying after a while. We had planned to stay there a couple of night but that night decided we’d rather move on, and so next morning we packed up and moved on to Chambers Pillar.

By contrast the camping area was lovely and peaceful, even though there were plenty of people there, so we stayed two nights there instead.  Spent the day doing the walk around the pillar at a leisurely pace, then went back to the observation area for sunset.  We had different “neighbours” both nights, but had enjoyable social evenings around the camp fire both nights.  On the second morning we made the effort to be up to watch the sunrise on the rock, and the changing colours – similar but different to the sunset the previous evening.

On Monday we meandered our way out via a stock route to the highway and turned down to Hanbury Meteorite Craters, where we’d planned to camp for the night.  After doing the walk and seeing all there was to see (very interesting) we decided it was still early and the camping area was fairly uninteresting and bleak looking, so we decided to have a look at  Rainbow Valley instead.

This proved to be a good move – much nicer camping ground, and arrived in plenty of time to do the walk, then found that the effect of the setting sun on the mutli-coloured cliff face was absolutely spectacular – much better than Chambers Pillar and other similar places we’d been to.

We had a quiet night on our own.  Two other vehicles were there but chose to camp some distance away.  From the sound of the voices in the distance they were probably European “backpackers”.

By now it was time to stop off in “civilisation” again, get cleaned up, wash some clothes and stock up the groceries etc, so we booked into a caravan park in Alice Springs for the next two nights.  Having been here quite a number of times we didn’t bother with any of the tourist attractions in town, just got on with business and ready to head out into the bush again.