Saturday, August 10, 2019

Postcards from Australasia #6

The first thing you notice as you fly to the centre of Australia is how barren, hot and red it looks.  On approach to Alice Springs you then see the MacDonnell Ranges, like spines sat proud from the surrounding landscape.   You fly pretty low over these to land at Alice Springs.

We picked up our rental car and headed to our hotel in the heat of the afternoon.   We had a busy day planned for the following day so turned in early.

The next morning having made it to breakfast first we headed promptly out to the Olive Pink Botanic Gardens.   While they sorted out the repair to the coffee machine we walked up the small adjacent hill and were delighted to see this Black-footed Rock-Wallaby sunning itself in the morning sunshine.  To be fair it was blimmin cold, roughly 7c and with a light breeze, seen ruffling its fur:

After coffee we explored the gardens enjoying the various birdlife and another Wallaby, i assume this one having a good old scratch is from the same species:

From the Botanic Gardens we drove on to Alice Springs Telegraph Station Reserve, where we had a couple of very enjoyable walks, as the temperature and winds rose.   After that time for another coffee which Helen accompanied with a Scone.

She couldn't finish the jam, luckily this Yellow-throated Miner was on-hand to help:

Onwards again to the last destination of the day, the expensive to get in but worth it, Desert Park.   They have lots of the scarcer and harder to see species in aviaries which wasn't so good or pleasant.  It also made picking out the calls of the wild/free birds tricky, however without a visit there we'd have seen many fewer desert specialists as they have a lot of suitable habitat in the park.   One we were pleased to see was this Splendid Fairy-Wren in breeding plumage:

Another bird, one which proved to be the most common we'd see in the arid centre was the Zebra Finch:

The next day we headed to the East MacDonnell Ranges, specifically to explore Trephina Gorge.  My vertigo prevented us from completing the gorge circuit however we did out-and-back both of the ends and nearly completed the overlook trail.   Helen was dressed for the early morning cold weather:

The next day it was off to Glen Helen having visited Simspons Gap and a few other stops along the way.   This is the permanent waterhole in the Glen in a natural break in the Range:

We really enjoyed our stay in the Lodge, a laid-back atmosphere and with the best food we ate in all of the Red Centre, we'd recommend it.

The next day we walked the Ormiston Gorge Pound Walk, starting through scrub and woodland burned to cinder after a lightning strike six months previously, regeneration takes a long time in the desert.   This is a lone Ghost Gum on a ridge of scrub that survived the fire:

The views all along the trail are outstanding:

The landscape and colours spectacular:

Along the trail we saw few birds but they were almost all from very localised, specialised species, including two species of Grasswren, this latter the Dusky Grasswren was spotted when we were walking back through the gorge to the waterhole at the end of the trail:

From Glen Helen we took the long way around, absent a 4x4 to Kings Canyon, a little over 600km via Alice Springs and the odd roadhouse on the way.   We found Kings Canyon to be thoroughly over-sold, over-touristed and massively over-priced.   Everything was expensive and frankly low quality, it's a complete tourist trap.   One highlight was the Spinifex Pigeons outside our room area:

Leaving, gratefully, Kings Canyon and heading to Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park we spotted a dingo, finally i had a camera to hand too:

Uluru itself is remarkable both for its spiritual and geological history:

On our last morning of this whistlestop tour of the Red Centre we drove to Kata Tjuta to watch the sunrise before meandering back to the airport for our flight to Cairns, and the tropics:


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