It isn’t far from the border to Alice Springs, so we arrived before midday and had time to set up and explore the caravan park, with it’s many facilities, then plan our first day of venturing further.
We began in the town, which has plenty of shops and facilities, and although it was, uncharacteristically, almost empty of people, we read about the first hospital in central Australia and peeked through the windows to where small gatherings sometimes occur.
A bigger day followed and we started at Redbank Gorge, some 150km from Alice Springs along the Larapinta and Namatjira Drives. It is a beautiful gorge, with easy access, although it is mostly on sand, so definitely not for wheelchairs or those with dodgy ankles. It was tranquil and displayed such a huge range of colours, both pastel and bold.
A short drive from here, heading back, to the Mt Sonder lookout gave us fabulous views of the mountain and surrounding ranges.
Ormiston Gorge was about 15km away and you have a choice of walks. We took the loop, from the carpark, up the hill to the lookout over the gorge, then along the hill and returning by the river bed. This is definitely the direction to take if you do the loop, as the uphill is steep but short and aided by stone steps which never go beyond 20 without a break. Again, this part isn’t suitable for wheelchairs, but the short carpark to pond walkway is and should be done. The colours and textures of this gorge are, again, stunning. If you go around a lagoon one way, look back to see the aspect on the other side, because sometimes it is so very different, it’s like being in another location. Parts of the gorge were a seabed, 800 million years ago and geologists believe something extraordinary happened in the area 300-400 million years ago to cause the seabed to rise and turn on its side. You can easily see the layers.
We decided that, as most of Australia was in a cold snap, we’d capitalise on the 27C and heated pools and headed back for some poolside traveler tips (with slide show).
Our final day we kept light, with a trip to Anzac Hill and then out to Emily and Jessie Gaps. The first provides 360 degree views of Alice Springs township and memorial information.
Emily and Jessie Gaps were disappointing, as they are very small and it was pretty blustery, so an ideal enclosure for sand blasting. The walk takes less than a minute each time and there are very unusual rock paintings of caterpillars, which the original owners ate here, and completed by women. You are asked not to photograph them as they are sacred to the people. The towering red rock faces are beautiful, and it’s a short drive out of town to the east, but I’d see Stanley Chasm or Simpson’s Gap in preference.
On our return we came across a huge flock of red tailed black cockatoos, which are considered rare, so I was very happy to get some photos of them.
Even when it’s cool, take plenty of water and a hat with you.