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The Outback Part 3

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The Outback 2014

Part 3

 

 

Russ Woody and I arrived a little before 5 pm Saturday night. Carole and Pat had successfully flown from Ayers Rock to Alice Springs and checked into the hotel.

 

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The next morning, Easter Sunday, Pat and I got up and walked into Alice Springs just to see what was what. We walked over the bridge that spans the Todd River. Below is a picture of the Todd in full flood.

 

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Once a year the folks of Alice Springs host the Henley on Todd Regatta. If you have never seen this event you should have a look. Here is a link.

 

 

Most of Easter Sunday was left to minor shopping and hanging around the pool. We were able to get the entire group into Easter Mass late in the afternoon.

 

On Monday we set out on (what I consider) the purpose of visiting Alice Springs ie the Western MacDonnels. The MacDonnels are a ridge of ancient mountains running around 1000 km in the heart of the Outback. Every once in awhile nature cuts a notch in this ridge and that is what we came to see.

 

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On the outskirts of town lies the grave of Dr. Flynn who started the Flying Doctor program. This was necessary as most of the Outback was so isolated that a simple broken arm often resulted in death. The grave itself is a bit confusing. The rock was supposed to be one of the Devils Marbles that is a formation on the main road from Adelaide to Alice Springs. But as this a was sacred aboriginal site it was first return and then some other rock looking like it was placed there. I am sure I have the story wrong but it is an interesting stop on the road.

 

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The road to the Western MacDonnels is paved.

 

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Near Flynn’s grave Woody spotted a termite mound.

 

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This is an interesting video and while you will need to reload the report it is worth watching.

 

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Our first stop was at Ellery Creek aka Big Hole. Some pictures.

 

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The next stop was the ochre pits.

 

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The next stop was Ormiston Gorge. This is one of the great water holes near Alice Springs.

 

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The final stop of the day was at the Glenn Helen “resort” and the associated water hole.

 

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We had a pretty good lunch at Glenn Helen and then went and had a look at the water.

 

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The next day we drove out to the Tropic of Capricorn, as this is one of those things that must be done. It is about 30 km north of Alice Springs.

 

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After the Tropic of Capricorn monument the Stewart Highway becomes unmanaged.

 

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It should be noted that the Toyota next to us was the most common off road vehicle we saw in the Outback. EVERY vehicle in the Outback has a snorkel. Every one! The reason why Toyotas are so common is a tax deal with the government (they set up a manufacturing plant in Australia). It took us a bit longer to figure out the snorkel. But on any trip you come to 100 depressions in the road all with 2 meter sticks letting you know that if the water is that high maybe you should wait. While it doesn’t rain much in the Outback you may pass three thousand depressions of which five or so will be filled. There are few bypass roads so you need to fjord the road and a snorkel is a must.

 

We returned to Alice Springs and drove up to the Anzac memorial. Note: Australia and New Zealand were not involved in revolutionary and civil wars as was most of the world. So when WWI and WWII came along it was a big shock that many of the young men did not return. Also it is a good place to see most of Alice Springs.

 

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On our last day in the Outback (we did do a day or so of shopping in Alice) we traveled into the Western MacDonnels stopping first at the very close to town Simpsons Gap.

 

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Some pictures of Simpsons Gap.

 

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It was still early in the morning when we got there and I remembered that the tour book said you can see rock wallabies there. If you look close you can see six in this picture. They are incredibly agile hopping over the boulders.

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Our next stop was Stanley Chasm, which is on aboriginal land.

 

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Our next stop was to be at the Wallace Rockhole, which is high quality rock art. But we got there at lunch time and the tours start in the late afternoon. Our final stop was to be at the Lutheran mission at Hermannsburg. This is normally done by backtracking on the paved road. But Russ found a dirt road which we took. This was as close to an off road adventure as we had on the trip.

 

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We got to Hermannsburg close to 3 pm and that is when the tours of the old mission close. Planning is everything.

 

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The next day we travelled to Darwin up north. That will be our next chapter.

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