Monday, September 26, 2011

Finke Gorge National Park

Back to the dirt!

 Wild inedible melons
On Wednesday morning we packed up the tent and continued on.  Our first stop was at Redbank Gorge – this gorge is advertised as being fantastic to swim and float through on an air mattress.  The water is deep and always cold due to the height of the walls.  There is camping facility at this gorge also but as we were early in the day we would visit only.  The information board said the walk was an hour so although it was 11 am (and getting very hot) we decided to head off as were numbers of other walkers.  We soon found that the walk was not as well signposted as the other parks we have visited and we were soon scrambling over rocks, in and out of the river bed and through sand following the direction of the gap in the ranges.  We eventually made it to the water and were most disappointed – there was very little water and there were bees and wasps swarming everywhere.  There was no way anyone could swim in the water and we have no idea if it was cold.  We made our way back to the car – the walk took about two hours.
They look tempting but cannot be eaten

Soon after the Redbank Gorge the bitumen ran out and we started on our favourite dirt roads again although at that point they were in reasonable condition.  We have been interested in seeing what looked like small melons growing along the roadside.  We stopped and took a photo and picked one of the melons so we could find out more about them.
 Redbank Gorge info
We stopped at the Tyler Pass lookout (175 kms west of Alice Springs) for a late lunch – from here we could see a huge oblong rock formation in the distance.  This is Tnorala Conservation Reserve (Gosse Bluff) which is an ancient crater with a 5 km wide rim.  We set the coordinates for this area into the GPS and set off.  The GPS advised us to turn right up this narrow track, which didn’t appear correct, but we initially followed it.  At a fork in the road (one saying no entry Aborginal land access only) we continued towards the crater and the track deteriorated rapidly.  Although we could see the crater ahead of us we decided that it was time to call a halt and turn around, which is what we did.
Peter during Redbank Gorge walk
Back on the original road we soon came to a sign to the crater – obviously the GPS was taking us a different route.  We took the road into the crater and we were a little disappointed that although there was a good view of the crater walls you could stand and have a circular view.  The reserve is for day visitors only although was well set up for camping with gas BBQ’s etc.  We were the only people there and it was really peaceful and we would have enjoyed setting up the tent.

 Gill during Redbank Gorge walk
We continued on and although we had purchased a permit to allow us to drive the Mereenie Loop (which is a 4wd road) to Kings Canyon we decided to take the left hand route back towards Alice Springs so that we could go to Finke Gorge National Park.  We made a short stop at historic home of Albert Namatjira, a well known Aboriginal artist.  We have found that we can be without mobile or internet coverage for long periods, but as soon as we come across an Aboriginal settlement we have coverage.  This happened at this historic home.  There were no other houses but we had internet and mobile coverage.
The waterhole at Redbank Gorge
The road into the National Park if high clearance four wheel drive only and is 18 kms into the camping area.  The road varies from dirt to deep sand and rock and for a good part follows the Finke River and is challenging in parts.  Apparently after heavy rain the track becomes impassable but we haven’t had rain since the 5th August and no rain was anticipated so we didn’t think that would cause us a problem.

 The second waterhole at Redbank Gorge

The camping ground was amazing – it was well laid out on the edge of the lagoon.  The facilities included flushing toilets, solar heated showers, drinking water and gas BBQ’s.  We set up camp on the grass beside the lagoon and stayed two nights.  Each night there were up to twenty camping groups so there was plenty of company and it was interesting to learn where other campers had stayed.  We camped beside two German couples who were visiting for six months.  One couple had brought their own campervan from Germany and the other couple had purchased an ex Britz camper on arrival.  They were interesting to talk too.  The first night we had seen a dingo wandering around and during the night we were woken to hear a chorus of dingo howling – the dingo are wild but not a risk to visitors if you just ignore them.  They are much more afraid of us than we are of them and run off if approached.  Other than the dingo we saw a variety of birds, lizards and no snakes or kangaroo.

 Redbank Gorge
 Note the rubbish collected when the river was in flood
 Tyler Pass lookout info re Gosse Bluff
Gosse Bluff Crater from Tyler Pass
 Time to change tracks
The great track into the crater
 Legend of the crater
 Balance of legend
Well these places are a girl's best friend in the bush! Not really
what she was saying to me at the time.
The Gosse Bluff crater
Some of the crater
 As close up as we could of the crater
  Back to the corrugations
Namatjira's house (Artist)

 Info about Albert Namatjira (Artist)
 Albert Namatjira's house

  Albert Namatjira
  4wd track into Finke National Park
Welcome to Finke Gorge National Park
 On way into Finke Gorge
 Rock formations Finke Gorge

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