The Ewaninga Rock Carvings Conservation Reserve was our first stop (10 Aug) on the 2010 VT Survivor Camp tour. The Reserve protects an important sacred Aboriginal men's place called Napatika. It is located 39 km south of Alice Springs on the Old South Road. The road is not paved but is generally okay for conventional 2WD vehicles; however, it could become impassable after a rain. It is a beautiful, remote spot and we were the only ones there. There is a well-marked, self-guiding 600 m loop walking trail. The Reserve contains many prehistoric abraded and pecked engravings, which include symbols of the Altyerre (pronounced al-cha-ra), the ancient laws of the Arrernte culture and the creation time or the "Dreaming." It is one of the sites that mark the path of the Rain Dreaming that originates at Koperilya Springs near Hermannsberg. The motifs and degree of weathering suggest an age as great as 30,000 years, although a more precise age is unknown. The main carvings are on a red rock outcropping on the back side near the small claypan dry lake. An old telegraph line ran nearby. See also a couple of videoclips.
This is something I'd never heard of and, when you're here for any length of time, you can understand that the McDonnells have priority as far as names are concerned but Chewings and Heavitree are where most of the interest lies.
However, when you come in from the south, the first range you bisect is the Heavitree Range.
I took a liberty and climbed the eastern peak first thing in the morning just to get an overview of where I was.
I'm so pleased I did, the views are wonderful from up there and give you a great idea of the layout of the geology of the area. It's not recommended for the unfit but, if you have a sense of adventure you might want to slip up there. However, be careful if you do as it's a scree slope and the ground is mostly unstable.
There are paintings here too but not as good as Emily but the scenery is better, especially if you go through the fence and/or climb one of the ranges, as I did of course; ever mindful that I wouldn’t want to miss out on a good pic. That’s how I found myself scrambling up a steep scree slope to ascend the range.
It’s a different world up top; the panoramas extend in every direction and here is also the world of the rock wallabies and the peregrine falcons. It certainly takes your mind off whatever else you may have wanted to think about.
As I scrambled back down the daily tourists were surprised to see someone above them on the slope and a comment or two was uttered.
The day before I had gone around about an hour before sunset and watched the birds tuck in for the night.
Jessie is about 17 kms east of Alice.
About one hour drive from Alice's centre, at the end of an easy sand track, Rainbow Valley is a huge block of sandstone carved by water, wind and time thus developing weird shapes and wonderful colours: red, green, ochre, brown, orange are mixed over the rock and the view is magnificent especially at sunset and sunrise, when the changing light irradiates constantly new reflections.
This is definitely something you don't hear about too often in the Centre. Most people, when they head out of Alice Springs, understandably head for the famous landmarks of Uluru or King's Canyon.
However, if you want something a little different, head to Gemtree, which is 140 Kilometers north of Alice. There, you get to see what it's like to dig for gems in an authentic environment. You can't just go off on your own, though -- they conduct daily tag-a-long tours to the local gemfields. They will provide everything you need in terms of equipment and guides to help find the gems.
There is also a gemcutting service on site, so you can watch how they prepare them or you can hire someone to do it for you. There's also a huge amount of jewellery to buy, or they will mount the gems you find in settings which you pick out.
There is a 100 hectare caravan park with campfires and other amenities like showers.
You must book ahead!!! Tours and campsites fill up - don't make the trip for nothing!
These ochre pits are still used today by the local aboriginal people. It is only the yellow ochres that are of good quality the rest at this site is poor quality.
But it makes for good photos.
There's a picnic area here and a 3 hour (return) walk that leads to Inarlanga Pass.
From Simpsons Gap it is another 30km to Standley Chasm (Angkerle). It is named after Ida Standley who was the first school teacher in Alice Springs (1914). She was the first not aboriginal woman who visited the chasm.
The narrow chasm has been created by an arm of the Finke River cutting through the sandstone. The walls of the chasm are up to 80m high and the chasm is very narrow. The widest place is 9m across.
The best place to come (which we unfortunately didn't) is around noon when the sun reaches the bottom of the chasm and the cliffs are lit up and glows red in the sun.
We saw lots of rock wallabies here!
Simpsons Gap has been created by the Roe Creek which has eroded a big gap in the Rungutjirpa Ridge.
It is only about 25 km (W) from Alice Springs so it is a favourite picnic spot. There were no one there besides us even though it was a beautiful day.
We were told that there were many rock wallabies but we didn't see any. You probably have to be there early in the morning.
Strangely enough no one knows who Simpsons Gap is named after. To aborigines it is known as Rungutjirpa - the home of Giant Goanna ancestral beings.
There are 3 different walks here, a short one to the gap, a longer one with views of the Larapinta Valley, and a 17km one that takes you to Rocky Gap and Bond Gap
In the West MacDonnel Ranges you find Ormiston Gorge. It is SO wonderful there. Unfortunately I didn't get to see that much. Only 1½ weeks before my cousin had the cast removed from the ankle she broke in NZ (yes, skydiving in Taupo is dangerous - but fun she assures me!) so she wasn't all that mobile. So when Scotty and Tina explored more of the gorge we stayed and enjoyed the silence. We had it all to ourselves. Except for a dingo who suddenly came running - didn't seem to take any notice of us...
Getting off the Beaten Track in the Ayers Rock region seems a bit tricky to me, when there's just the main highway and not many roads.
Sometimes 4WD vehicles in convoy do it as a Club trip away across country. I knew somebody who did this in NT. You need a proper, strong 4WD to do it, as you may have to contend with sand hills and other difficult terrain and you'll need to carry a lot of extra supplies, food, fuel, winch, and often CB radio with you.