The plan once we got to Alice was to stock up on groceries and do a big clean up. We had 3 nights before we planned on moving on to the next place, but we knew we would be coming through Alice again.
Cleanliness is Close to Godliness
After we set up camp, I started to clean everything I could. We had loads of washing on, the vacuum out, the sheets changed, showers and the car emptied. I wiped everything down, decided to get rid of a few more things and reorganised a couple of storage spaces. I contracted red dust hay fever which had me sneezing for a couple of days. But it was worth it. To feel clean for about five minutes.
A Few Surprises in Alice Springs
Alice Springs is a big city. Do you know how I know that? It has a Coles and a Woolworths and an IGA.
There is quite a lot to do in town and we had a list of things we wanted to do. Visit the Botanic Gardens, go to Anzac Hill, check out the Todd Mall markets, have a look at a few galleries, the desert Park and the Museum of Central Australia. What I had no idea about was Megafauna Central!!!!
Never heard of it. In all the reading that I had done, blogs that I had bookmarked, I hadn’t come across it at all. And it is FREE.
Basically they found an old lake about 150km away from Alice that has heaps of fossilized remains of Megafauna from about 8 million years ago. Megafauna Central is a display based on all the amazing things that they have found (and are still finding) there.
We spent about an hour and a half here and we were all fascinated by what we found.
So Much History
Alice does a really good job of telling it’s stories. There are heaps of information boards dotted all around town telling you about historic buildings or sites significant to the local Aboriginal people.
One day we decided to take some of our washing to the local laundromat because all the machines at the park were busy. Right outside the laundromat was a little rock with a plaque next to it and a rope around it. We stopped to have a look and a read and were fascinated to find that the rock was significant to the Aboriginal people from the area.
It was known as the Wild Dog rock and the story goes that if the rock was rubbed by old men then the camp dogs would growl and become aggressive. One of the last times the local Arunta tribesmen did this was after the white men came and they wanted the wild dogs to chase them away.
A small rock now surrounded by a carpark near a laundromat. It just goes to show how every little thing is significant to the Aboriginal people and everything has it’s story. We were so glad that we stumbled upon this as it wasn’t mentioned in any of the brochures we had picked up at the Visitor Centre.
(I lost a few days worth of photos so unfortunately am missing a few for this post).
Western Macs Interlude
The plan was to head out to the Western MacDonnell Ranges National Park for about a week or so before going back to Alice for a couple more days. Alice Springs is in the middle of the MacDonnell ranges which stretches to the West and the East of it. We loved that every way you look in Alice you are looking at red rising rocks which surround the city.
We only had to drive about 20km to reach our first stop in the National Park. When we got out of the car at Simpsons Gap we were greeted by a ranger who gave Lala a book to identify some of the animals around. Straight away as we headed in we saw black footed wallabys and a tree full of the most amazing tiny little birds. I used Lala’s book to identify them as Zebra Finches. After a short walk we were back at the car to find our campsite for the next few nights.
National Park Camping
Basically we plan on National Park hopping the whole way through the Northern Territory. It offers the best value camping and they are National parks for a reason.
Ellery Creek was our first campsite. It is an amazing water hole which Lala saw as she was telling us some story as we walked down. She stopped midsentence, gasped open mouthed and then started cheering with glee. Before we knew it she had run down to the sandy bank and was lying in the sand making ‘sand angels’.
The best thing about camping at places like this is getting down there early before anyone else arrives. It is so much more relaxing when you are there all on your own and you don’t have to worry about your 5 year old disturbing everyone else with her écho practice’.
Or as she calls it, ‘gecko gecko gecko’.
The Larapinta walk trail sections 6 and 7 pass by Ellery Creek. We walked a tiny part of it which intersected with the Dolomite Walk around the campsite. It was a short 3km walk which we enjoyed before breakfast one morning. The next day we walked it again from the other direction.
As you walk you pass thousands of prickly spinifex grass plants. They look like they have been landscaped as the strata of the rock is all in linear patterns, so that they all seem to be planted in lines.
There is an amazing rock formation that looks like a huge crumbling ancient wall. There was no particular information about it, except that it was made from the dolomite rock. I guess it must be a natural formation, but everytime we saw it (as it was repeated throughout the greater area) we always called it ‘the ancient wall’.
I took heaps of photos, but unfortunately these were all lost (so I have used a couple of examples from the East Macs here to illustrate what I mean).
Next we will head to another campsite in the National Park for a couple more days. Still so much more to see!
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