Alice Springs to Ormiston Gorge
Distance Travelled - 173 km
Woke up and packed the car after a coffee and read and finally left the campsite about 8.30 am. Drove to town and rang my brother Craig to wish him a happy birthday and then went and did a bit of shopping and visited the Information Centre. After talking to them for a while I decided that I would go out to Ormiston Gorge today and camp there for a few days and then head back in to Alice visiting some of the other gorges along that route on the way back. When I get back to Alice I will refuel and head out to Uluru / the Olgas for a few days and then visit Kings Canyon etc before heading back to Alice and off towards Darwin.
The drive to Ormiston Gorge, whilst not spectacular, was quite pleasant and I arrived there about 3 pm. Found a camp spot in the surprisingly full and busy camping section and then went for a walk. The Gorge is very pretty, with lots of rocks and some brownish water in the near permanent water hole. There is a lot less water in here than there was when Ken Duncan took his photo that I saw in one of his books.
Went back to camp, set up the solar panels to give the batt-pack as much charge as possible and then read for a while. About 5 o'clock went back to the gorge and did some photography in diminishing light and spent time just looking and enjoying the beautiful sight.
Cooked tea on the gas BBQ provided at the campsite and then laid down to wait for night proper to do some star photography but fell asleep before that happened.
Day 39 - 21st May
Distance Travelled - 0 km
Woke up at 2am (having fallen asleep before 7 pm last night) and got up, contemplating walking to the Gorge and doing photography but decided not to as the noise of getting ready may not be appreciated by the other campers. Went back to bed and finally fell asleep about 4 am.
The eerie, mournful and yet somehow tranquil howl of a dingo woke me at 7 am. I peered out of my tent to see him sitting about 8 metres away, under a small tree. I watched him for 15 minutes or so as he let out repeated howls, answered by distant howling in the background. He eventually trotted off.
Got out of bed and went to the gorge to do some photography and then about 8.30 am came back, had breakfast, set up the solar panels and went back to bed. Slept in until lunchtime which was very cool and relaxing.
Spent the afternoon reading, listening to music, occasionally meandering down to the waterhole to see what was happening and then back to the campsite, adjusting the solar panels to make as much of the sun as possible and generally just chilling out.
Went to the waterhole about 5 pm and sat, just watching the birds and soaking up the peacefulness when along trotted a lone dingo. As I sat, perched on my rock, he cautiously wandered along the edge of the waterhole, stopping intermittently to drink and catch something to eat which he did at least once successfully. He got to within about 5 metres of me when a small movement I made to adjust the camera caught his attention and he lightly trotted off away from me and over the rocks. In all I think we spent about half and hour in each others company.
After he left I wandered back to camp, cooked tea and wrote the blog, determined not to lay down in case I miss my night photography opportunity again. Tomorrow I am planning to leave the campsite at 5 am and start the Ormiston Pound walk which should get me to the lookout over the pound by sunrise which, according to a ranger i was talking to, can be very spectacular from that vantage point. The whole walk takes about 3 hours so hopefully I can be back and have a little snooze before heading off towards Alice just after lunch.
Day 40 - 22nd May
Ormiston Gorge to Ellery Creek
Distance Travelled - 57.6 km
After going to bed at about 10 pm I woke at 12, 2 am and 4 am, obviously conscious of not wanting to miss the alarm. Woke up at 5 am and was off walking the 9 km by torchlight in the dark by 5.15 am. The trail was reasonably easy to follow with the reflective markers occurring fairly often. The only drama that occurred was missing the difficult to see turnoff to the lookout. By the time I was thinking I should have found it I had arrived in the pound to be greeted by a fabulous sunrise, painting the clouds a delightful pink colour. The walls of the gorge had a real look of warmth about them as early light transformed them from darkness to life. Took several photos hoping to get the feel of the warm look being generated.
Walked the rest the trail without incident arriving back in just over 2 and a half hours - not bad for a 3-4 hour walk according to the sign. Had a shower and some breakfast and then went back to bed for about a half hour snooze before heading back to the gorge to see if there was anything interesting happening, which there wasn't, so went back to camp, packed and headed off toward Ellery Creek.
Got to Ellery Creek and found an absolute oasis in the desert, a large basically permanent waterhole with a small amount of grass, lush green reeds and decent sized ghost gums. Took some photos and went back to set up camp for the night. Went back to the waterhole several times before tea as the light changed to try and see if photos were worth taking.
Spent the evening after tea sitting around a campfire talking to a couple from Qld about all sorts of thinks from schools to politics to camping, finally going to bed about 9.30 pm feeling rather weary.
Day 41 -23rd May
Ellery Creek to Alice Springs
Distance Travelled - 103.4 km
Had a group of late arrivals at the camp last night who came in at about 8.30 pm and set up not far from me and started preparing tea. They had just finished eating when I went to bed. At 12.45 am I got out of bed and went over to where they were sitting, chatting away in their very loud voices and asked them politely to tone it down as some people were trying to sleep. They quite quickly settled and within 15 minutes all was quiet and they were in bed.
Awoke a 7 am and went to look at the waterhole for photographs and then had a quick breakfast and packed. Headed back to Alice Springs to refuel, do some shopping, make a few phone calls and find a caravan park for the night to recharge batteries, collect water, shower and generally sort myself for the trip to Uluru.
Was horrified at the $44.00 price for the one person at a powered sight but had no option really so went in and set up. Spent the rest of the afternoon sorting out photos and blogs and emails. Was devastated to find that I had forgotten to set the lens back to auto focus after the night photography I had done, so nearly all the photos from the pound walk are out of focus.
Cooked tea and settled down for a hopefully blissful and restful sleep.