Day 46: Tue 12 Aug 2014
Up before dawn to watch the sunrise over the rock from a special lookout dune on the eastern side which was a drive away from the camp. It was great and the colour really does change from black to purple to shades of red.
Dropped into the info and cultural centre. Exorbitantly priced art and souvenirs which was unfortunate because both J and I were very keen to buy something. J really wanted a spear. I'm not sure what I wanted, just something genuinely made by a local blackfella and not mass produced in China.
Then we dropped the cherubs home as their interest and stamina were waning and A and I went back for the guided Mala Walk. We had an aboriginal guide and he was good but he was actually from Katherine himself. We saw the 'classroom' cave with paintings used to teach the boys about to become young men. There's a women's area you aren't allowed into and in the middle the cave for the elders between them to watch over everyone. A small cave with smoke-blackened ceiling was where the very old guys who could no longer help out lived. A walk takes you down to a massive waterfall area with waterhole at the bottom. The texture of the rock is irregular and geographic and the colour is predominantly red but also white and black in the waterfall areas. Apparently the rock is naturally grey, we got to see it, but it turns red from dust and oxidation.
This evening we went on the camel ride at sunset. It was fun. The operators were funny and informative. The camels are well trained and riding them was super easy. We went on a short walk over the dunes with plenty of time to appreciate the sunset on the rock. Back to the farm for some snacks and a glass or two before heading home. I think we all four really enjoyed it.
Turns out camels were very important to the development of this region. There are about 1 million wild camels in Australia today. They can drink 120L in one go and can go for weeks without water on dry food or up to a year if they are eating green feed. Seems a pity that the govt has to cull the wild animals. There must be a use and a market for the meat and leather? They are lovely animals. C and A got to see the 'baby' being fed. She was apparently only 8 weeks old but already as tall as a person. The juvenile called buttercup?? Tried severally to eat Claudia's paper hat. The have huge lips which are remarkably dextrous and strong but soft and gentle at the same time. The camels have been one of the revelations of this trip for me.
A is very keen to do the climb. It is still open but they do their best to discourage you from climbing it like the park ranger at the info centre who turned very cold when we asked why it was closed today.