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...
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!
After Uluru, the 2010 VT Survivor Camp moved to the Kings Creek Station Campground for two nights. This was a nice developed campground with running water toilets, hot water showers, dishwashing facilities, and even a swimming pool (that was closed because the weather was still cold). If you want a campfire, you need to bring your own firewood. We got to Kings Creek Station from Uluru via the Lasseter Highway and Luritja Road. It is ~300 km trip. From Alice Springs, if you want to stay on paved highways, the route is similar. Just take the Stuart Highway south to the Lasseter Highway. Going that way, it is ~450 km trip. Shorter routes from Alice Springs (both ~300 km) that include unpaved roads, are Larapinta Drive-Mereenie Loop Road route through the West MacDonnell Ranges, or the Stuart Highway-Ernest Giles Road-Luritja Road route.
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.
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.
I believe the initial 2010 VT Survivor Camp plan had us spending the first night at Oak Valley; however, when we got there, no one was at home to let us in (the campground is privately owned). They actually did us a favor because we went on to Rainbow Valley, which was a beautiful place. We did see some interesting things on the road to Oak Valley though.
Stuart's Well Roadhouse, Caravan Park and Budget Accommodation, Jim's Place and Camels Australia are co-located on the Stuart Highway ~90 km south of Alice Springs. It is a good place to take a break after a long drive or spend the night. There are camping sites (some free), dormitory style accommodation, toilets and showers, swimming pool, gas station, pub, restaurant and mini-market. Jim's Place is also the home of Dinky the singing dingo. Unfortunately Dinky was taking a nap both times when we were there. There are also emus in a pen around the pond. Camels Australia is a 9 acre camel farm that offers short camel rides or 1-5 day safaris into the James Ranges. Entry is free.
The turn east to the Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve is ~15 km north of Stuart's Well and it is ~22 km to the campground from the highway. Camping fees are 3.30 AUD for each adult and $1.65 for children. There are no facilities except for a dunny (pit toilet), gas and wood barbecues and picnic tables. This was the first campsite on the 2010 VT Survivor Camp. You must bring your own firewood or collect it outside the Reserve (which we did by a stockyard back towards the highway). Please note Deb's and Bob's "survival mattress."
The views at Rainbow Valley are spectacular at sunset! The layered sandstone bluffs are accentuated by the reddish sunlight. The bands in the sandstone bluffs were formed in an earlier and wetter geologic age, when the red iron of the sandstone layers was dissolved and drawn to the surface during the dry season. The red minerals formed a dark iron oxide surface layer with the leached white layers remaining below. The dark red layer is harder and weathers slowly. The softer white sandstone quickly turns into loose sand. Weathering and erosion are also responsible for the shape of Rainbow Valley, where sandstone blocks have been eroded into rock faces and squared towers. Visitors are asked not to climb on the rock formations. See also a panorama videoclip taken at sunset.
Wurre is a bushtucker dreaming site and an important ceremony place for the Upper Southern Arrernte people. There are charcoal, grindstones and rock art that date back thousands of years. There are colorful red and white standstone bluffs next to a large claypan lake which sometimes fills with water. When the lake has water, Aboriginal people have always met and camped at Wurre. Visitors are asked not to walk on the claypan or climb the Wurre rock formations. See also a panorama videoclip in the morning and a videoclip of the claypan with water.
The Cannonball Run Memorial is at a pullover on the Stuart Highway ~8 km south of Stuart's Well (98 km south of Alice Springs). We could see that it was a car racing accident and that four people were killed, but did not know the details until reading this website and this blog.
"The Northern Territory Cannonball Run was held from 22 May to the 27 in 1994 on the Stuart Highway from Darwin to Alice Springs and return, a distance of nearly 1600 kms, and attracted 118 racing enthusiasts from all over the world with their expensive machines. The race contained three distinct driving phases within the one event. These were the "flying miles", the timed sectors and, covering by far the greatest distance, normal, everyday driving during which there was no competitive element. The "flying miles" were a test of a car's acceleration with cars cross the starting line at 60 km/h and 1600 m later their speed was recorded by radar, with points awarded accordingly. The timed sections of the run were approximately 100 km stretches to which set times was applied. Cannonballers lost points on these sections by arriving either too late or too early by more than three minutes. While these sections of the run were happening, the road was open to regular traffic, although police swept the road ahead, side roads were manned and the travelling public and commercial vehicles were warned. During these sections, as throughout the run, Cannonball drivers were subject to the same laws as anyone else. It is to be pointed out, though, that in the Northern Territory doesn't exist a specified speed limit on the open road.
On 24 May, during one of the timed sections near Alice Springs, a Ferrari F40 crashed into a checkpost killing its occupants, the Japanese duo Akihiro Kabe and codriver Okano (first name unknown) and two track officials, Tim Linklater and Keith Pritchard. An inquest found that the direct cause of the accident was driver error on the part of the Japanese team which entered the checkpoint at an excessive speed. There was a reasonable inference that the driver mistakenly believed he had arrived at the checkpoint when 7 km short of the actual checkpoint, and then sped up to make up for lost time. Another factor may have been the lack of racing skills of the driver, promoters refused an assessment of skill prior to the race and allowed everybody to take part to the race regardless of driver's experience. Although Akihiro Kabe had driven before on rent racetracks he was unexperienced as a racing driver and several commented on his lack of driving skills while he was practicing at Hidden Valley before the race. According to some sources one of the persorns concerned by that was ironically Keith Pritchard, one of the killed officials.
The tragedy caused criticisms in Australia and the case was discussed by the parliament. The race was never repeated and a memorial was erected in the place of the accident."
To get back to the Stuart highway (Hwy-87) to get to Rainbow Valley from Oak Valley, we followed the Hugh River Stock Route. BTW, Rosie was the official gatekeeper. Stuart's Well is just ~10 km north from where the Hugh River Stock Route intersects the highway. The turn east to Rainbow Valley is ~15 km north of Stuart's Well and it is ~22 km to the campground from the highway.
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.