Yesterday took us on a day tour to Palm Valley. The bus leaves Alice Springs at 6.55a.m. and takes its first stop at the gallery of a very talented Aboriginal artist – stunning work. We travel on to Hermannsburg which is the historic site of a Lutheran Mission dating back to the late 1870s. This is Western Arunda Country where the european settlers and local people built a thriving community. The historic precinct most interesting.
We travel on to Palm Valley in the Finke Gorge National Park. It is an east-west running valley in the Krichauff Range 138km from Alice Springs. We cross the Finke River (dry bed) several times as we move into the valley. Geologists believe the Finke River to be the oldest river system on this planet earth, dating back 350 million years!
As the drive progresses up the valley we see cycads growing near the base and on lower levels of the rock gorge face.
Another spectacular walk up onto the rim of the valley (gorge) allows breathtaking views of the rock formations and vegetation depicting nature’s palate of grey, green and oaten colours of spinifex, witchetty bush, dessert conifer, ghost gum and native grasses.
Finally we come down from the rim overlooking the valley which is the only place in Central Australia where the Red Cabbage Palms survive in an area of semi-permanent spring fed pools. Another magic day!
Today we depart Alice Springs and Central Australia with more than a touch of heaviness in our hearts. It is a definite wrench to leave this ancient and powerful heart of our beautiful country.
However, as fate often dictates, our departure was a particularly joyous experience. From the Double Tree Hotel which has been “home” for the past amazing three days, we are transported in a rattling and rocking taxi van by its Indian driver named Sandy at a spectacular speed of 100 km per hour (corners, round-abouts and all) – Sandy proves to be a master at clearing the way on the road by intimidating all other traffic off the road as he generously treats us to the uplifting rhythms of Bollywood music . It was clearly one of those surreal moments in life as we gratefully alight from the taxi at the door of Alice Springs Airport. Thank you Sandy – you have left us all with an indelible memory – one of life’s treasure stories which will remain one of this journey’s highlights!
As our plane soars above Alice Springs we have a bird’s eye view of the first clouds to be seen in the sky since leaving Sydney a week ago.
The stretch of the West MacDonald Range is clear from above as we take our last glimpse of Lovely Alice!
Now the next phase of our journey comes into view as we look down upon the coastline of Darwin under heavy smoke from the winter burn-off fires inland.