26/09/15 School holidays had started in NT. For the next week Di and I would be laying low in Alice, waiting out the numbers of tourists that will be heading into the West MacDonnell Ranges. Some parts of the ranges are quite close to Alice, though, and we’d see the closer ones by doing day trips over the weeklong holidays before then heading out to camp on the far side of the ranges at Woodland Campground.
The first day trip was to Standley Chasm, 50kms west of Alice along the sealed Namatjira Drive. This is the gorge that you regularly see in the tourist brochures of Central Australia. The chasm was certainly distinctive, with high vertical walls only a few metres apart and the cliff walls glowing orange in the midday sun. The number of other visitors though, mainly families with children, was unfortunate. At the various places we’d recently been to in the East MacDonnell Ranges, we’d enjoyed being the only people there. That had changed with the more touristy nature of the West Macs and I guess that couldn’t be avoided.
Heading back towards town, we stopped at Simpsons Gap which got Di’s vote for the “Most Gorgeous Gorge So Far Award”, surpassing her previous favourite, N’Dhala Gorge. It was a short and easy walk in and, deep in the gorge, the towering cliffs were reflected in the permanent water pool.John Flynn‘s Grave, close to the escarpment at the foot of Mount Gillen. The site includes a memorial that contains the ashes of the Reverend John Flynn and his wife. The rock on top seemed smaller than I recalled. It turned out that the original larger rock was from the Devils Marbles and had spiritual significance for the local women. It was subsequently returned and replaced with the smaller rock.
At the Araluen Cultural Precinct in Alice Springs, we viewed the Desert Mob exhibition of Aboriginal art at the Art Gallery, and went through the Strehlow Research Centre that houses a wealth of material gathered by Professor Theodore Strehlow during his many years studying the Aboriginal culture of Central Australia.
The best pies in the world and anywhere else for that matter are made in Alice. The Bakery Alice Springs operates a pop up bakery stall two mornings a week in the old kitchen at The Residency heritage building in the town centre, as well as every second Sunday at the markets. Along with a variety of scrumptious breads and pastries, they do a small selection of designer pies that are just unbelievably good. I couldn’t stop “Mmmm”ing with each bite as I enjoyed the Wednesday and Friday pies. And today being Sunday, guess where we are off to this morning…
We enjoyed the market in the Mall, with a variety of Asian and local foods, crafts and other stalls, as well as The Bakery and its goodies.
“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” – Yogi Berra