Joined: Nov 2007
Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
Birtles vs Australia
ACT 12 Alice Springs to Ross River Resort
In which we see ancient and modern art, ride on the Binns Track,
go 4WDing, and get a glimpse of paradise.
Aboriginal stylised paintings of caterpillars.
Red ochre and lime.
The white man leaves art work behind, too
Who could resist a wee fire ?
Trephina Gorge, about eight kilometres off the road.
Difficult to capture its scale with a basic camera.
Ghost Gum - 33 metres.
58 years old when Cook landed at Botany Bay.
Just before the Ross River Resort is a memorial to Terry Gill, aka “Fish” who
died here on his HD. The “Fish Rally” had gone through a couple of days before.
Ross River Resort
The set up here is the best yet, huge shady camping ground, grass, great
facilities, welcoming staff, staggering scenery. The main buildings are a little
separated from the camp area, housing a restaurant, bar, and smaller
rooms just for sitting and thinking.
Shane books me in and answers questions about nearby N'Dhala Gorge.
The gorge road passes the entrance to the camp ground and forms part of
the meandering Binns Track that reaches from Mt Dare to Timber Creek.
There are shallow water crossings and dry riverbed crossings, deep sand
and corrugations. Sand is a challenge to Birtles’ razor blade tyres, but ruts
left by a pushbike, sometimes with footprints alongside where it had been
pushed, make him determined to continue.
Last hurdle is a grid with a deadly approach, over deep ruts filled with large
stones before bumping up onto a metal grid, not a place to need to put a foot down.
Feet up, clutch slipping, Birtles complaining in first gear … and we are over.
Coming back is easier.
The gorge walk passes a few of the more than 6000 petroglyphs in the area
and takes all of the 1.5 hours stated on the guide sign. Many years ago I
needed only half the time allowance shown on these signs, but now I use
all of the suggested time - it’s good to see that whoever writes them is finally
getting more accurate.
The visitor book shows three visitors for the day, and this was the weekend,
so the gorge is not visited often, something to remember while crossing the
tricky bits on the return trip - especially as I sign the visitor book
"Birtles, Honda CT110 Postiebike, who needs a 4WD?"
Back at camp I let Shane know that The N’Dhala Gorge is accessible by an
old NZer on a Postiebike. He asks if I would like to join a 4WD tour he is about
to start with two other campers - of course I do.
We branch off the main road and pass the resort’s bush camp - tent houses
for those that want to get even further away from it all. The trip is over rugged
4WD tracks from which we see the ranges from a different perspective.
Tomorrow there is a longer 4WD trip, and again I put up my hand.
Shane is manager of Ross River Resort, tour driver, mechanic, and also the chef.
If his cooking is as good as his driving, my bread and water diet can have
a rest tonight. It sure is: the meal is delicious and with mains and dessert
for $20 it is a great deal. For the rest of my stay, this is where I eat.
A rescued joey tucked up outside the door likes it here, too.
He joins in when the mood takes him.
The geology of the area is stunning.
One determined gum !
I stay for three days and would like to stay longer. It is not posh, despite
the “resort” in its name, but it is completely comfortable - physically, mentally
and socially. Nothing is too much bother. Whatever is needed you only have
to ask and there it is, as I found when I wondered about fossils in the area -
Shane remembers this and next day takes a diversion on the 4WD tour to
a likely site. The thing that really sells the place to me is the trust with which
guests are treated. Throughout my stay I eat, drink, take tours and use all
the facilities, yet am never asked to pay, just told to remember the items and
pay for them when I leave. When I call at the office on the last day and rattle
off the dinners, breakfasts, drinks and tours, my list is accepted without
question, except for the two 4WD tours … they are free, just part of the service !
On the last evening at Ross River Resort I walk part of the gorge road.
Returning to the tent as the sun is setting, I understand why Shane says
that even if he won the lottery, he couldn't find a better place to work.
He loves all his roles at the resort and is happiest when he is helping
guests enjoy their stay - that really is paradise ….
…. but I have to leave.
To be continued ……….
BigZoner #096 (English Chapter)
"Keep brotherhood till die"