....ohh and pencils and paper

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Exploring the West Side

Yesterday we headed out to explore the west Macdonnell Ranges starting with Glen Helen about 130 kms west of Alice Springs. It was a very chilly day and definitely a 'beanie' wearing day. I am not going to wax lyrical about the beauty of this spot, I'll let you decide for yourself.
Large rock faces tower high above you.
Next on our little exploration was Ormiston Gorge and we decided to do a little training for our Kings Canyon walk by climbing to Ghost Gum Lookout which is only a mere 238 steps interspersed with long stretches of track. This is the lookout from down in the gorge.
So off we went battling strong winds as we went. The view from the top was breathtaking. I have a lot of phobias but heights are not among them but walking out on the steel grated platform above the gorge was a wee bit scary especially with the wind blowing a gale.
This is the Ghost gum you could see the branches of from the gorge.
We headed back down the steep steps to the car park and picnic area and had lunch amongst the trees.
Revived we headed off to Standley Chasm which even though it was late in the day and we didn't get the effect of the sunlight on the rock walls it was still an amazing and beautiful place. More walking. I have never walked so far and up and down and over so many rocks, boulders, fallen tree trunks and waterholes in my life in one day.
The rock walls of the chasm towered above on both sides and there was a bushfire not to far away and we could smell the smoke from it. This next photo is of Gary on the track on the way back from the chasm.

The above photo is me trying to be creative and capture the height and narrowness of the chasm.
The last stop for the day was Simpson's Gap. It was getting late and we were of two minds whether to go or not. We decided we would and there was no one about and we had it all to ourselves.
It was truly a special place. As we sat on one of the rocks absorbing it all one of the very special and endangered residents hopped out on to one of the rocky outcrops to begin his descent to forage for his dinner. You will probably have trouble picking him out as he is blends in so well with his home. He is on the left side of the flat rock. I am talking about one of the 20 remaining black-footed rock wallaby that call this place home. We felt so priviledged and watched him for ages. Can you pick him out?
Gary and I discussed which place we thought was the most spectacular and we came to the conclusion that each place had it's own energy and beauty and couldn't be compared. Even though it was a cold blustery day I wouldn't as they say have missed it for quids.
Today we visited the "Desert Park" and all I can say if you ever visit Alice Springs you have to visit. It is fantastic. I will only share a couple of photos as I feel as if I took thousands. Two stand outs for us was the bird show in the amphitheatre with wild birds....galahs, owls and birds of prey. They swooped low above our heads and soared high into the sky. Amazing!
The other was the talk about the tools and implements of both aboriginal men and women in the desert. It was given by a wonderful and talented young man by the name of Mat. He is 25 years old and flies around on his motorised scooter. He is so passionate about his work in the Park and it just goes to show that you are capable of anything if you love it enough. He imparted so much information to us. We loved the time he spent with us.
Gary checking out a Woomera used to assist in spear throwing faster, further and more accurate.
I am holding a gathering bowl made from a bloodwood tree which had been hollowed out. The outside is carved beautifully and Mat told us that every woman's bowl could be identified by her individual decoration and no one else would use it.
I shall leave you with this glade of pink everlasting daisies that were one amongst many gorgeous natives blooms throughout the park.
Tomorrow we set out for Kings Canyon and leave "The Alice". We will be travelling for a while so I shall leave you in peace.
Take care until then,
Blessings Michelle xxx

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Free Brekkie and a Little Trek

The park where we are staying hosts a free pancake brekkie every Sunday. A very nice gentleman by the name of Brendan whips up all these huge pancakes. All you do is show up with your plate, mug & cutlery say G'day and he plonks a beaut pancake on your plate and you can have 2nds and 3rds if you want. He told us one day he made 920 pancakes and the record number eaten was 14 for a man and 9 by a lady. This is Brendan with his huge grill.
You can have lashing of butter and maple syrup or 'cockies joy' (golden syrup) which was my choice and that is a dinner plate it's sitting on.
After our free brekkie we headed into town to check out the markets in Todd Mall and bought some bits and bobs. I bought a gorgeous bracelet made from 3 old sterling silver teaspoon handles....I love it.
We then headed out to the East Macdonnell Ranges which are not as renowned as the West but they were just beautiful. First was Emily Gap just 7 kms out of town.
There is some very interesting Aboriginal rock art here depicting their dream time story about 3 catepillars which are the ancestral beings of the Alice Springs area.
Next was Jesse Gap which was a larger area but was equally as special. There was a beautiful ghost gum that I had to go and get up close and personal with. The bark felt satiny smooth, it was such a gorgeous tree.
There was more rock art similar to that we found at Emily gap.
The next little stop was a place called Corroboree Rock and we went for a walk around it's base. It is a very sacred place to the Aboriginal people both now and in the long ago past. There are two gaps in the rock that you can see through. Native flora was in abundance and I am saving them all for one post.
We finished our day at Trephina Gorge and did the rim walk which was spectacular. It took us 1hr 20 mins and the walk finishes by walking up the almost dry riverbed. there were little pools here and there that reflected the large cliff face.
This photo was taken from one side of the gorge and we ended up walking right around to the opposite side you see above. Right behind me over my left shoulder is a huge rock fall in the gap and it plummets down to the gorge floor
I love the tree's reflection in the rock pool. Near here we came across 7 native bush pigeons and they were so cleverly camoflaged we almost didn't see them. Can you see it to the right of the photo near the greenery?
In the bushes and trees little flocks of tiny zebra finches flitted around busily and dipped and dived down to the rock pools for a drink. They are a little difficult to see as apart from there red beaks and little stripey markings they are the same colour as the river sand.
That's it from me for today. Now I give you fair warning if you don't like looking at more rocky outcrops better not tune in tomorrow as it will be more of the same as we are hoping to go out to the West side of the ranges to Ormiston Gorge. I did tell you I love a craggy rock or two but what I have seen has been amazing and we aren't even at the big pebble yet.
Just thought I would tell you it was minus 3 here overnight and we had ice on the old camper. We have been nice and toasty though even though I look like the Michelin Man because I have so many layers on. Silly as it is the worst thing has been the burn on my thumb has not healed like the rest of my hand and as it is in the crease of my thumb I give tearing it open and the cold makes it really hurt. I am keeping the Bandaid company afloat at the moment.
Take care all,
Blessings Michelle xx

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Good Timing

Quite a while ago I was watching an arts programme on television and it was about this particular festival.
The gorgeous cosy creation on the right was my purchase at the Alice Springs "Beanie Festival". I remember thinking how I'd love to see that festival and couldn't believe it would be on while we were here. It is the 16th festival and it is amazing.....everyone gets in the groove and there was beanie clad heads everywhere of every age, shape, man or woman. There is a wonderful exhibition that is judged but no photos were permitted (sorry) but  it was fascinating....gorgeous creations of hand felted, knitted, crocheted or combinations of all 3 were on show. I did take a couple of piccies of the madness at beanie central where you can purchase any of the creations.
How you would wear this pooch on your head beats me.
The one above was a fantasmagorical elf cap and the work was amazing.
There were also wonderful tea cosies too.
Tjanpi Desert Weavers are a renowned group of indigenous women artists who work with grass fibres and make baskets and sculptures. You could sit with them and make a basket but you had to have booked a place. The baskets were beautiful. Outside another photo opportunity beside the "BIG BEANIE"
After some yummy freshly brewed coffee and home baked cake we went through the Albert Namajira gallery which was something. What a talent he was. We also toured the Central Australian Museum and the Aviation Musuem which was interesting as well.
Next came the National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame which was wonderful and I will dedicate a post to later. Just up the street was the Royal Flying Doctor's Service Centre which was begun in Cloncurry Queensland by the Reverend John Flynn. This is a marvellous service providing help to remote country Australians. Gary was very chuffed to take the pilots seat in the cockpit of the model on display.
I fell in love in the souvenir shop with another a pilot... a little furry teddy RFDS Pilot. How could I resist especially with funds going to the service. Even though we were getting a little weary I really wanted to visit the final resting place of John Flynn having seen a picture of his grave as a school girl. For some reason the image always stayed with me. A spectacular place to rest for eternity.
 We headed back to our little home on wheels thinking our day was done only to find ourselves being entertained by a very talented man called Marshall Whyler who plays the didgeridoo. He also gave a wonderful talk and demonstration on playing it. It was just fabulous. 
So that is as they say that. I am really looking forward to my bed this evening I can tell you which brings me to my last photo which my other half took and didn't think I would post. It is yours truly first thing this morning (looking decidedly gorgeous) under my blankies and wearing my beanie because it was sooooo the lesson here is you shouldn't dare me!!!

Bye for now
Blessings Michelle xx
A post script:
The National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame was established when it was noted that their contribution to our country was not highlighted at the "Stockman's Hall of Fame". It was wonderful to read about all of these inspiring and 'gutsy' pioneer women and see their images as well as lots of everyday implements they used to provide the daily necessities as well as their craft.
Of course I was immediately drawn to thus collection of sewing machines.....
There is also an amazing signature quilt signed by our 'women of substance' from every walk of life.
 It is a really big quilt and each block has fabric that has been chosen to represent what each woman's abliltity and contribution is.
I loved this little gathering of treasures...
This is called a Meat Safe cot. There was a very lovely Cathedral Window quilt inside the cot as well as a very cute golly but they didn't come out in my photo.
Last photo a very pretty 2 piece number in the palest powder blue.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit here and it was wonderful to see such a celebration of Australian Women.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Town Like Alice

Tonight we find ourselves in the jewel of the outback Alice Springs. Investigation of "Alice" begins tomorrow.
Yesterday we left Tennant Creek and headed south stopping at the incredible natural phenomena Karlu Karlu or Devil's Marbles. Aboriginal Dreamtime stories say The Rainbow Serpent laid her eggs here and they are the "Marbles". It is such a surprise to see so many scattered about the landscape.
Some of them you imagine will topple and fall at any moment as they seem to defy gravity.
Others are so round and smooth.
Of course you tell yourselves that you won't be idiots and take silly photos and of course you SO do!!!
And then you encourage your other half to do the same.....
I have wanted to visit here since I was a little girl and it exceeded my expectations. I took so many photos it's just plain ridiculous.
We spent last night at a little spot called Wycliffe Wells which is basically a stopover for campers. We met a lovely couple called Sharon & Brian from NSW and joined them for an Aussie dinner, steak burgers with the lot and chips They were great company and as Brian is an avid NSW supporter there was much bantering between Gary & Brian as you can imagine. We went to bed after a beautiful warm day only to wake to a very chilly morning and cold breeze...never got warmer than 16 degrees C. You know I am a sucker for a creature or two and this little donkey at WW stole our hearts. He had a friend but she was not interested in making any new mates.
Our journey took us 356 kms south towards Alice Springs. We stopped and had a cuppa at Alleron which has a roadhouse, caravan parkand an art gallery (which was closed) and these huge sculptures one of which is atop a hill behind the gallery. It is of an aboriginal 'Anmatjere' man standing spear in hand as if keeping watch over the surrounding landscape. He is 17 metres tall and was created by Mark Egan. He stood alone for 3 years until Mark created his wife and child in 2008.
They are located down below in the camping ground and are depicted just back from hunting with a huge goanna on the end of the woman's  spear. Just fascinating.

Anyway after nearly getting our coffee blown out of our mugs we had a hasty lunch and headed off again.
We are settled in here at "The Alice" for a few days (pardon the photo I took it from the car as we flew past) It is supposed to be -1 in the morning brrrrr!
I had this idea that the landscape I would see would be barren and desolate and even though there has been good rain out here which is not usual there is a real energy out here. The colours are amazing. I love the red earth and the sage greens of the brush, ghostly trunks of the gum trees and vibrant yellow wattle everywhere. The screeching sulphur crested cockatoos taking flight being pursued by a menacing wedgetail eagle, flocks of bright green budgerigars flying overhead (much nicer than seeing them in cages) There is life and actitvity everywhere. Even as I write this I feel like I am not doing it justice.
That's this instalment done, time for a Tim Tam (they seemed to have followed me from home) and a cuppa.
Nite all,
Blessings Michelle xx