My alliterative ability for blog post titles, or, in fact, any kind of interesting title, has disappeared completely. It seems I am reduced to writing uninspiring travel-blog entries, and here is yet another, this one set in the East MacDonnells. As an aside, whenever I hear the phrase Out and About, I think about the classic route Oot and Aboot (10a/b) in Oregon's Spring Mountains. Go do it if you are in the area.
We ended up, somewhat out of sync with our plans, in the East MacDonnell Range for a few days before we finished the Larapinta Track because Doug came down with some weird virus and associated bacterial infection in both legs which required a few days rest and a course of antibiotics (taken with much displeasure and angst regarding his gut flora). While Doug rested up in a caravan park on the south side of Alice Springs, I did the usual type of weird things I do, like walking 5 km into town to the laundromat with my overnight pack stuffed with laundry - that's how much I hate driving. I also spent a day roaming around Alice Springs (after walking in, of course) visiting the Botanic Gardens, trotting up and down the various small hills scattered about town and wandering about the Telegraph Station Reserve. I would come home each day with sore feet from walking 25 km on cement, while Doug had a sore back and butt from resting too much.
After a couple of days of this, we escaped to the East MacDonnells. Trephina Gorge Nature Park has four little campgrounds, three accessible by 2WD vehicles, all quite lovely, and none busy at all. We stayed for three nights in the very peaceful Panorama Campground. Trephina Gorge is a short gorge with the usual Central Australia red quartzite rock walls. The base is sand, and the walls, about 20 metres high at their tallest, slope down to small bluffs at either end. There are a couple of short walks accessible from the campground, and, the bouldering is pretty good on either side of the gorge. Climb in the sun if it is cool, on the shady side if it is hot. The base of the rock walls is all overhanging but only a few metres from the sandy gorge floor so you can traverse back and forth getting a pretty good forearm workout.
One day we drove out to Arltunga Historical Reserve where a mini gold rush occurred at the tail end of the 1800's. The town that sprang up was to be the first in Central Australia, but the gold didn't last and the town went bust. There are some old mines scattered about, various stone buildings in various states of collapse, and many relics from the turn of the century. We found it a lot of driving even though the dirt road is actually pretty good. The most interesting part was climbing a ladder down a mining shaft, crawling through a tunnel, and exiting via another shaft.
Doug in the mining tunnel
Our last morning, we walked the 9 km Ridgetop Track which starts at Trephina Gorge and ends at John Hayes Rockhole gorge. If you don't have a 4WD or can't be fussed bashing down the 4WD track to John Hayes Rockhole to start the walk, you can walk the road in less than an hour. I started from John Hayes Rockhole and enjoyed walking up the pretty red rock gorge with no-one about. Doug, who started from the other end, got treated to a car load of screaming kids as he descended the gorge a few hours later. Despite all that, he did see two dingoes and a rock wallaby, all of which were rapidly scared off by the shouting hordes. In between the two gorges, the track runs along the top of a ridge (hence the name) providing delightful easy walking with grand views and no other people.