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Old 10-31-2012, 01:22 PM   #36
platypus121 OP
CT.110 NZ
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Joined: Nov 2007
Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
Oddometer: 106
Birtles vs Australia

ACT 13
Ross River to Glen Helen

In which we see gaps, moan about changes, find a life-saving ring, pass
through fires and under cliffs.


A quick back-track to Alice starts the day. Fuel up, through the town, and
onto Namatjira Drive, heading west.

Simpson’s Gap …

… with its hard-to-spot rock wallabies.

A walkway has sprouted, there for visitors to follow. And follow they do,
taking the same path to, the same path back, and in between taking the
same photographs from the same positions.

The Gap has stood for hundreds of thousands of years through heat, cold,
drought and flood; people have passed through it for tens of thousands of
years: I am sure my footprints do not pose an environmental risk.

In defiance of forces that want to channel our every move along officially
approved paths, I walk down the middle of the riverbed. Oh, I’m such a rebel !

Standley Chasm, where the walls glow bright red at mid-day.

The Chasm is even more developed, now it's a business. It was once a
wild clamber up the creek bed, over fallen trees and rocks to the chasm.
Now there are tracks, not quite wheelchair friendly yet, that let you know
this is no longer Outback, it is “an attraction".

Pay to get in / follow the path / buy an ice cream at the kiosk. I can’t find
the man giving donkey rides or the one running the merry-go-round -
they must be away at an administration meeting, deciding where to
put the candy-floss machine.

Splashes of colours, other than red, in pools at the foot of the chasm.

As I leave Standley Chasm a pall of smoke is spreading over the western
horizon. A controlled burn-off extends for about sixty kilometres - looks like
this one has made a bid for freedom.

Serpentine Gorge and Ormiston Gorge are passed by - I am all gorged-out.
The ochre pits also get a miss. It is not a long ride today, though the heat has
been tiring. My face tingles as sun over-powers sunscreen, and smoke
makes my eyes itch.

Even so, I can’t resist an interesting place name, and Ellery Creek Big Hole
intrigues me - I want to know how big is “big”.

The fun police have beaten me here.

No diving ! No swinging from trees !
No fun please, keep to the path, no laughing !

Just a few meters from the no swinging sign … a swing!
I’m relieved to see it. So long as authority is told where it can stick its signs
and its granny-state instructions, there is still hope.

The tenacity with which plants cling to life out here is astonishing.
Gnarled roots and trunk seem to be hundreds of years old: fresh leaves
sprout from the branches. What caused such twisted growth, what will
it look in a hundred years?

Closing in on Glen Helen and the burn-off continues.

Glen Helen is impressive, set against a backdrop of sheer cliffs that are
pierced by a gorge just a few hundred metres from the resort.

There are three ways out of Glen Helen.

1. Back track to Alice on the sealed Namatjira Drive.

2. Continue west on dirt roads, then loop back to Alice via Hermannsburg
where the seal starts again on the Larapinta Drive.

3. The Mereenie Loop Road to Kings Canyon - 225 km, unsealed, sign-posted
4WD, and my maps show it as “Permit required”.

Should be an easy choice.

To be continued ……..

BigZoner #096 (English Chapter)
"Keep brotherhood till die"
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