Saturday, August 12, 2017

The West MacDonnells continued

Travelling life with a dog is not the same as without a pet.  No national park in Australia allows dogs although we do leave Maxi in the van with an air vent and some windows partially open for a few hours while we do some walks.  We contemplated tying her up at one of the legal campgrounds but we have been warned that dingoes will come in and take small dogs, even during the day, so that option is not feasible.

While we were travelling with Rob and Denny, this was less of a problem as we could take turns minding the two dogs but we had to say goodbye to our travelling companions in Alice Springs.  Denny has been suffering increasingly from a painful back which has necessitated their stopping in Alice Springs to seek medical advice and some manipulation.  Sadly, our delightful shared holiday has had to end.  It is even more sad for Denny, who had to cancel her painting course at Arkaroola that she had booked in for at end of August.  We both now have to face going back to cooking daily for two people.  The shared cooking and meals was enjoyed by all four of us while we were together.

This is a view of majestic Mount Sonder, the highest peak in the West MacDonell Ranges.  Last time we visited, six years ago, Andrew climbed it.

The Finke River and Glen Helen Gorge where we spent the night camping in the campground. Andrew went across the waterhole in a rubber tube, as he did last time, and then he climbed the peak to the right.

The wonderful red cliffs above the water.

This rock formation is known as the organ.

The view that Andrew was able to capture and share from the cliffs above.

Free camping along the Finke River.  We took this shot from the Mt Sonder lookout.  We would love to have joined these campers but it is national park and Maxi's presence is, sadly, once again a prohibitive factor.

We next visited Ormiston Gorge, again.  This gorge is considered one of the finest in the West MacDonnells and one of the most beautiful gorges in the country.  In my opinion Ellery Creek Big Hole is more spectacular and the gorges in Karijini in WA are more beautiful but Ormiston is lovely.

Ormiston Gorge was the subject of several of Albert Namatjira’s paintings.  The towering red walls of the gorge and the splendid waterhole certainly provide spectacular scenery.  This time we only did the walk up to the lookout.  Six years ago when we were last here we did the 7 kms around the rim of Ormiston Pound.  Instead, now I drove the van out to Mt Sonder lookout while Andrew walked approx 13 kms of the Larapinta Trail to meet me at the lookout.  I am now getting quite confident driving Winnie around.

Below is the waterhole at the bottom of the gorge near the picnic ground which is a short walk in.

A view of the waterhole from the lookout at the top.

The view of the gorge from the lookout.

We had intended to drive around to Hermannsburg which we had visited last time we were here but we were misinformed about the road being dirt rather than asphalt for 47 kms (which it now is) so we did not go. Hermannsburg was a Lutheran Mission where Namatjira grew up.  We also missed Wallace Rockhole as the 17km dirt road was an unknown factor.  Maybe next time.

Our last supper together.  Sadly it is time to say goodbye to Denny and Rob and Bella.  They are staying on in Alice Springs while we go and face the journey homeward to the cold south.  It has been so much fun travelling together.  And we hope they get an opportunity to try out over an open fire the jaffle iron they picked up and also the handle for the camp oven that Andrew fashioned together to replace the lost one.

Maxi and Bella got on but did not play with each other.  They maintained a respectful distance and left each other alone.  Bella played with other dogs but although Maxi, surprisingly, showed some interest, Bella did not respond to her overtures.  But Bella enjoyed our company as she is a very sociable canine.  We were hoping she would be a good role model for Maxi in encouraging her to sit on laps more but all to little avail.

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