Alice Springs felt like a bit of a milestone for us. A place you always hear of, a place people fly to before heading out to Uluru. But for us, it was going to be home for 6 days. Alice is an aboriginal town, larger than we expected and far busier then we ever expected.
On our way to Alice, we stopped into the most amazing natural wander - Devil's Marbles. We took one of the designated walking tracks and navigated our way around the large, oddly stacked, rock balls. The size of these rocks are hard to capture in any photograph and really need to be seen in the flesh. The kids loved hiding in small caves under the rocks and jumping out of their shadows. After an hour the road was calling again.
We chose to stay at the Big 4 MacDonnell Range Holiday Park to give the kids a bit of luxury after free camping for the last few weeks. They were so excited to see the jumping pillows, pools and playground. We also had some travel friends staying in the same park, so to have all the kids playing together was just perfect. Planning to spend our first day here enjoying the resorts facilities and get some groceries done as we were down to our last supplies. The kids played, we swam, they played some more, then us parents enjoyed some much needed cold ones before preparing for the next day.
Waking up nice and early to get the car packed for a full day of exploring the West MacDonnell ranges. Usually it’s just our family but today we teamed up with friends and our two families went off together. We headed straight for one of the further gorges on the stretch “Ormiston Gorge” This trip took about 1.5 hours and was easy highway driving. We didn’t expect to arrive to a little cafe but it was a welcoming bonus. Getting all the kids ready we headed into the gorge, just a short walk and you can see the views already. It was sandy river banks with rocky sections. Easy walking and the kids were loving all the rocks. We spotted the water and headed straight over, it was beautiful, clearish but really low as its dry season. Spending a good half an hour rock hopping and exploring it was time to head back to the cafe for a coffee and in the car to our next place.
Our next stop was Serpentine Gorge. This was going to be our longest trek of the day and it was already really hot. We headed off down a rocky river bed and along a really clear path. The kids were eager for a swim and carried towels and pool noodles the whole way. After walking the kilometre to the gorge, we passed a sign that said no swimming!
Totally disappointing! The looks on the kids faces said it all. The looks on the parents faces were slightly different as this gorge was one of the most beautiful we had seen. And back down the 1k road we go.
After another short drive we found ourselves at Ellery Creek Big Hole. Yes! This was our swimming hole. We had read amazing things about this particular place and we were so keen for a dip. Walking to the waters edge, we rushed to dip our toes in. Well, there would be no swimming today, IT. WAS. FREEZING! The big boys decided that they didn’t want to come all this way and not take a dip, so in they went… And out they came just as quickly. Both declaring it’s the coldest water they have ever stepped into. We lazed in the sun, let the kids throw rocks into the water, we stared at the beautiful red rock walls that surrounded us, then packed up to head home. There were plenty more places to visit, but seeing those 3 in one day was enough for our little ones. We headed home.
Spending another day lapping up the resort and heading into town to check out some shops and buy a few special things for Halen’s birthday coming up. We spent the afternoon with other families in the park, kids playing, parents enjoying some drinks.
East MacDonnell ranges is not quite as popular as the west but after some research we decided it was worth us doing a day trip. Preparing for another full day out, we set off, this time east. It’s surprising just how different the scenery was. There were many more mountains and some of them just green. We headed out further to a place called “Arltunga”. This is actually an abandoned gold mining town. Turning down a long dirt road, we made it to the small Information centre, there was nobody there today, so we walked through their displays on our own. Making it to the back section, there’s a whole lot of hands on items from the gold rush days you can try. Our kids took to the old “trucks”. It’s a tin can attached to some wire which can be pushed along with a lot of noise following. There’s mining equipment, and old rusted car and a fair chunk of information for you to read. Continuing on further by car we came to the actual abandoned town. There’s buildings still standing that you can walk through and once again plenty of info available so you know whats what. Our favourite building was the police station, old big and made of stone with a jail out the back.
Driving back towards Alice, we stopped into Jessie Gap and Emily Gap. Both just beautiful. Sandy banks to walk on and the afternoon light was just making the red rock walls glow. Emily Gap even had some Aboriginal art still present on the walls. Well worth the look. Home again, home again. Showers, dinner and bed.
For tomorrow, we head to Ayers Rock.