Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Alice Springs and The East Macs – Sept 2011

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on October 13, 2011

Ruby Gorge

Driving up Ruby Gorge

Garnets in the riverbed

Hi Everyone,

We’re here in Alice Springs, in the Red Center and can’t believe how many fires there are at the moment.  There is so much smoke everywhere we look and it’s playing absolute hell with my sinuses. We spent the first few days here just catching up on the washing and schoolwork as its good mobile and broadband service here. We caught up with some friends Andy and Amanda, whom we had met on our Cape York Adventure some weeks ago.  They came over to the caravan park for a BBQ dinner and

Riverbed walkway to Gentle Annie Gorge

Prospecting for garnets

4WD Track to ruby Gorge

many, many drinks for the boys.  Daniel and Wade looked after Darcy, who’s 2, and also cooked the BBQ meat.  We had a delightful dinner, lots of drinks and laughter; it was a great, late night.  They have lived in Alice for about 14 years and Andy works for AAT Kings so they know all the good places to see!.

We headed off the next day to a place that Andy had suggested called Ruby Gorge, way out east of the East MacDonnell Ranges.  We drove out to the un-manned Arltunga Visitors Centre and read about the gold rush in the area many years ago.  We

Sunset on way back to Alice

Baby dingo

CP at base of Ranges

decided to keep on driving out to Ruby Gorge as it was still 40km of really rough 4WDriving to go and we’d had a late start this morning.  The smoke seems to be hanging around and makes the views quite hazy.  We drove up Ruby Gorge until the river crossing where there is a walk you can do after that.  By this stage it was 2:30pm and we decided lunch was a great idea instead.  The river bed we were driving in is full of garnets, a semi-precious gemstone.  It was amazing; there were zillions of small garnets all throughout the river bed.  We ate lunch and then we all set about fossicking for our own pieces of garnets.  Originally they thought that the red stones were rubies and people flocked to the area,

The boys dwarfed by ghost gum

trying to make their fortune.  It didn’t take long for the prospectors to realise that the stones were in fact garnets and not rubies.  They are still very pretty and we managed to find a few nice ones too.  After our hard time fossicking for “gemstones” we started back along the river bed track and headed home.  You can camp anywhere along the gorge river bed for a nominal camping fee.  We saw some campers in there and thought next time we’d

Atop Trephina Gorge

Colourful spinifex pigeon

definitely bring the tent or camper trailer and camp here for a few days as it’s a long drive in and out in the one day. On the drive past Corroboree Rock we saw a family of dingoes on the road; Mum and Dad and two littlies.  They were running in the middle of the road and then darted off into the bush; Wade thought that was particularly cool!

Walking down to the creek

Next day we headed back out to the East Mac Ranges and visited the Trephina Gorge. The sky is much clearer this morning and there is a little breeze which is probably blowing away the smoke; I hope!.  We stopped to look at a huge ghost gum tree which is believed to be the biggest in the East Mac Ranges.  Joel and the boys tried to put their arms around it but it was still too big.  There are a number of walks here and we started out with the Trephina Gorge walk which runs along the ridge top and back along the creek bed.  We saw some Spinifex pigeons along the ridge top and they weren’t at all scared of us; quite the opposite as the male kept puffing up and showing us his fanned tail feathers.  They are quite beautiful and much smaller than I thought and their predominantly brown colouring makes for great

Trephina Gorge

Pink rocks

camouflage too. The walk wasn’t too difficult and the creek bed had a little bit of water in it which was a

Sun angle changes rock colour

bit green but not too smelly! The walk only took us 45mins and we had some gorgeous views too. When we got back to the car, we had some snacks and drinks and headed off to do the Panorama Walk.  It went all uphill for the first half then thankfully we started going downhill.  It was quite a rocky hike with some magnificent views of the surrounding gorge. This walk took us about an hour and a half and we were ready for lunch when we returned.  We had a picnic lunch at the tables and chairs under shelter even using the tablecloth this time as the tables were a little gross.  We then

Wade walking up the Gorge Ck

Jack's Waterhole

headed off down some more 4WD tracks to Jack’s Waterhole.  We did a quick hike up to the lookout and then walked along the creek to the waterhole.  There was some water in it but it was very brackish and none of us felt like swimming in it. We travelled back towards Alice and stopped in to have a look at Jessie Gap. Got to say I was unimpressed with the Gap.  It was just a couple of rocks that had eroded and there wasn’t even any artwork or anything

Desert landscape and flowers

really of interest to see there. We then stopped at Emily Gap which at least had a little bit of artwork to see. The art is considered part of a storyline of three caterpillars that are considered ancestral beings for the Alice Springs area. On the road back

Standley Chasm

Standley Chasm again

Emily Gap artwork

into town we see that the smoke has returned and the haze is back but we managed to get a nice sunset shot because of the smoke.  We also saw a family of dingoes running down the road in front of us but by the time i got the camera out, I just got a snap of one of the baby dingoes running in the scrub nest to us.  That was pretty cool.  The amazing part was they looked quite well fed and just like a pet dog rather than some of the mangy critters we have seen previously.

I spent the next day getting my application for University ready for next year.  Joel has been busily checking out the work scene and even got offered a job last week, but they wanted him to start straight away! Tonight we are off to Andy and Amanda’s place for a yummy lasagna dinner.  We chatted for ages and Joel and Andy polished off another bottle of bourbon. We had a wonderful time and dinner was especially scrupulous too.  I think Joel is going to need a few days to dry out after his sessions with Andy!

Simpsons Gap

Beautiful place SG

Water was very cold

We all had a good sleep in this morning and after some schoolwork and blogging we headed out to see Standley Chasm.  We’ve read that you should try to get there between 11am and 1pm as the sun is directly overhead and makes for good photos too.  We paid our $25 family fee for the privilege of walking down the path to the Chasm. It’s quite a nice walk and the Chasm is quite lovely, with some warm colours on the walls of the Chasm.  We took some photos then stopped for a picnic lunch before heading off to see Simpsons Gap.  It wasn’t a very

SG so beautiful

Could have stayed all day

Historic Telegraph Station

long walk out to the Gap and it was just gorgeous.  The colours in the rocks were amazing and there is a permanent waterhole there which was freezing cold too.  It was very picturesque and I thought much prettier than Standley Chasm.  I could have stayed out here for hours; there was just something almost spiritual about the place. We travelled back to Alice and went to visit the Historic Telegraph Station just on the outskirts of town.  The buildings have been restored to some of their former glory and the place serves to show the buildings and operation at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station, between 1895 and 1905.  It is the era’s most intact Telegraph Station and the parks and Wildlife Commission

A little step back in time

protect it as solid evidence of the lonely lives led by the pioneering men and women who first established Australia’s telegraphic life-line to the world. The buildings are made of stone and are really well restored.  There are information plaques everywhere so there’s plenty to see and read about so we wandered about for some time.  We head back to the van and spent the arvo on paperwork.

Next day the kids did a heap of schoolwork, i caught up on some blog notes and photos and Joel did the washing, shopping and cooking so I could get more done on the blog notes.  We packed up the awning and are getting ready as tomorrow we are heading out to the West Mac Ranges for a few days.

Till Next time



One Response to “Alice Springs and The East Macs – Sept 2011”

  1. Marge Hynoski said

    Thanks for photos of Ruby Gap….all the times we went to Alice we never got there, although we did spend a day exploring Arltunga. Greg was a bit hesitant about tackling the 4WD track on his own. And both times we reached Arltunga it was too late to continue on…..We’ve seen everything else, but we planned the east so we reached the gorges in the east in time for short National Park ranger tours. Marge

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