Last week we took our first ever holiday as a family to Alice Springs & Ullaru. It had been a long time since Roy and I had traveled together, the last time was no doubt our honeymoon backpacking adventure. We have done small trips but nothing like this. We came out to Alice Springs to visit Lily (Roy’s sister). Lily had not seen Isla since she was about 8 days old and was itching for a cuddle with her niece. So we made it happen, plus it was also to celebrate her birthday.
The first afternoon Lily & Luke took us up to a hill-top to watch the sun go down. It was spectacular, I love being out west for sunsets they are so vibrant and the light is always magnificent. The landscape was extremely different to what we know here on the Sunshine Coast. The soil exposed and dotted with trees and grass. Boulders protrude through the sandy like soil. There are trees many dead and the West MacDonnell Ranges loom to the west. So pretty.
Hermannsburg & Palm Valley
Lily works for Land Council in Alice Springs and through the grapevine she heard about horse races in Hermannsburg and that they were also baptizing babies. With only a little information we drove south west to Hermannsburg. At the town store we found out more of where to go to find the days gatherings. Little did we know that the day we visited was in celebration of the Luthern Church who had put in a water pipe to supply Hermannsburg. They also did baptize babies that day. We arrived in time for lunch, disappointed about not seeing any horse races and local cowboys. We drowned our sorrows with fried chicken and salads. Apparently the races were on the day before and they also had a party on the night before which was dress up – yes like a cowboy.
Roy stoked with his chicken lunch which was supplied by the Luthern Church. The local aboriginal kids playing in the waterhole. It was great to get out to this event, even though it was not what we expected. There is a real sense of community in the outback. Oh, we did see a couple of horses when we left.
On the way home we took a side adventure to Palm Valley. The turn off is near Hurmannsburg and the national park is a bit of drive to reach. This was my first ever real 4wd adventure. Never done any serious off roading before I was amazed at what cars can really do. Or should I say 4WD’s. Once we reached the valley we had a picnic lunch since we packed one and then headed further down the valley to reach were the palms and cycads were growing.
West MacDonnell Ranges
The forecast for our adventure out on our own was going to be a top of 40’c. Our plan for the day was to go swimming and stay in the shade. Our first stop was Standley Chasm, a nice walk up a creek among the gums to end up at the chasm. It’s hard to think that there are trees growing here in the middle of Australia. I realised that around Alice Springs is really quite green – in the sense that plants are growing. Isla had her first real adventure in her backpack that we borrowed from our friends Kath & Ian. She is able to see out while protected from the sun, it makes a nice change from the stroller.
We drove further west until we reached Mt Sonder Lookout. It was mid morning when we arrived and the wind was gusty and hot. The air is so dry that you don’t even break a sweat in the hot heat, instead the moisture gets sucked out of you. Having Isla in the car for the day makes things a little tricky so we spread the driving out. Our next real stop was lunch and a swim at Ormiston Gorge.
Ormiston Gorge has some nice shady spots around it perfect for a picnic lunch. Roy took Isla for a quick dip in the icy cold water. Even on a boiling hot day the water is very cold, so cold I was not even brave enough to get in. We splashed Isla cool with the water since she was not dealing well with the heat.
Our next stop on our adventure was to Ellery Creek heading back to Alice. Another stop for us to get out of the car and splash around the water. This swimming hole had plenty more people escaping the heat from Alice though the water seemed even colder here. Isla discovered eating sand while we sat on the bank watching Roy wade around.
Alice Springs Desert Park
The next day before we were to fly off to Ullaru we managed to fit in going to the Desert Park. We watched the bird show and learnt about the black kites that live in the area. After seeing several of them the day before it was good to know what they were called. The desert park has some great bird exhibits which we could identify some of the ones we had seen. Along with a wonderful nocturnal area where I saw my first ever bilby. Through the park we were fortunate enough to see the desert flowers that come out in spring. Really pretty, adding so much colour to the landscape.
The next installment will be about Ularu & Kata Tjuta.