Desert Park and West MacDonnell Ranges
Burt Plain, Northern Territory
Alice Springs to West MacDonnell National Park (24.07.2012): Today we headed to Alice Springs' main attraction: Desert Park. The park is a biopark containing 2km of gentle paths winding through desert habitats containing plants and animals that call this place home. There is also a nocturnal house containing the desert creatures of the night. The aviaries and mammal enclosures are all extremely big and all walk through. We saw some amazing wildlife including a few more of our favourite kangaroos. We also managed to catch the wildlife talk where we got to see birds of prey up close: what amazing creatures!
After leaving the park just before midday we drove on to the West MacDonnell Ranges, a series of quartzite ridges. The tallest mountains within the Northern Territory are contained within the Park along with waterholes, and gorges. 15km along our path we made our first stop at Simpsons Gap - which is exactly that, a big gap between two mountains. We went on a little walk there before climbing back in our campervan and travelling a further 45km to Ellery Creek Big Hole which is one of the largest permanent waterholes in the region. The water was freezing so we passed on the chance to swim in it. We miss our thermal springs!
After Ellery Creek we travelled around 45km to the Ochre Pits. Here we got the chance to see the marvellous ochre rocks - extremely colourful. It is an offense to take any of the ochre as it is regarded as sacred to the aboriginals. Next stop, a further 15km away was Ormiston Gorge - our camping stop for the night. We undertook the "Ghost Gum" walk up and along the top of the gorge and then down through the middle of the dry waterhole. It was a bit like rock climbing in places. We managed to spot a black-footed-rock-wallaby - so cute! The gorge is spectacular, our favourite walk yet.
After finding our spot in the campsite, we used the free gas barbeques to make a treat of veggie sausages for me, and steak for Adam (no beans). We played some checkers (we are proper campers now) before wrapping ourselves up as warm as you can when you only have summer clothes! It was freezing! In the day time it gets to around 30 degrees but it dips to around freezing point at night. It is difficult to deal with the extreme. We have invested in one fleece blanket and have the thin sleeping bags provided with the camper - it makes for a chilly night.