The magic rock

Northern Territory: 03. – 18.08.2011

Our next main destination, Alice Springs, was only about 1.200 kilometers away. That meant to drive, drive and drive again. Of course also this time can be used quite productive with; writing emails and reports or sewing. In the meantime our clothing more looks like Swiss cheese than pant, T-shirt or sock.

But Australia does look for a change. In the Elsey National Park we could relaxed our stiff limbs in a thermal spring and at the Devils Marbles we could prove our skill with playing marbles. The later are huge rounded boulder sometimes amazingly stapled on top of each other. These are the remains of Lava that pushed up and is now slowly eroding.

After four days we reached Alice, but since it was weekend we disappeared into the mountains, the East Macdonnell Ranges, to relax from the long drive. We settled in the Trephina Gorge, sat back and let things take its way. But not everyone in the N-Team was pleased with what was seen as darkness approached. A closer look proved it; Mice! Now it would show if we really found the hole they used to get into Nisto. Sonja spent an uneasy night listening hard if they were back in. But the rustle of the rubbish bag was only imaginary. They only found the way into the engine bay; Markus found two of them in there the next morning, but the danger zone interior was untouched. All right, that’s how its supposed to be.

Back in Alice we went back to school, or a bit more accurate into the, with its 1.300.000 square kilometer, largest classroom of the world (ten times as big as England). In June 1951 the School of the Air was opened after realization came that the kids in remote areas have difficulties with social interaction. HF Radio the means to call in an emergency or organize the cattle farm was just developing. So it was used to teach children in a rather unique way. Today the transmissions go via satellite with bidirectional video. Kids come, like in every school, from all direction, like cattle farms, roadhouses, aboriginal communities or where ever you can imagine living in the outback, sometimes as far as 1.009 Kilometers away from school. Curriculum is the same as in every public school in the Northern Territory, but since there is only one hour of live class each day, every student has a tutor that is either a parent or a hired professional. We’ve been lucky and could witness one of the classes of the six year old. Like a playschool but on the computer. It really is fascinating how organized everything is. Besides that we went to visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service. This is the Emergency vehicle for the same remote people in the Outback and was founded in 1928, in the mean time it became the transport media for every medical case that crosses city boundaries, as well as Emergencies in the Outback, also for us if anything should happen.

Of course the main reason why we came to the center was a huge rock that appears out of nowhere and has this distinguished red glow in the setting sun. This would be another 1.300 Kilometer roundtrip from Alice Springs, fortunately there are quite some things along the way to keep us occupied. So we started our little Outback trip with the Rainbow Valley. Where we met some outstanding and colorful rock formations as well as a Lady with a yellow jacked who waved with a Form at us. Hmm, what’s that? We managed to be in a census again and this one even covered remote outback areas. Fortunately unlike Ecuador the year before there was no curfew here. Sonja dutifully went to work, here a few examples; Where did the person life the one year ago? …Hmm, where have we been, Bolivia!?... Or; How many bedrooms has this dwelling? …Nisto has two!... Or; Can Internet be accessed from this dwelling? …Well, sometimes!... If anyone can make any sense of our answers or if it goes straight into the bin, we will never know.

We continued thru the Finke Gorge National Park where we hiked thru the Palm Valley, a wide gorge with red cliffs and rare red cabbage palms. The following days we went along the Boggy-Hole Track thru the picturesque Fink Gorge towards one of the most famous landmarks of Australia: Uluru or Ayers Rock as white men used to call it. It is about three Kilometers long, two wide and rises 348 meters above the surrounding bush land. Because its color is the most intense during sunrise and sunset we joined the pilgrimage to the sunset parking and indeed the whole scenery has something unreal almost magic to it with that red boulder in the otherwise flat landscape.

The whole area has for the original owners, the Angangu People, high cultural significance. That’s why they ask visitor not to climb the rock as the track doing so crosses a sacred site. Because of that and us also being lazy we decided for a 360° view of the rock and walked all around it. However lazy is something else, even thou the track is flat, the ten kilometer walk was not quite so easy in the heat of the day. But at least we got to see the rock from some different perspectives.

After a tour to the Olgas, an amazing accumulation of Monoliths and neighbor of Uluru, we left this spiritual site and headed towards the West Macdonnell Ranges. On the way we stopped at the Kings Canyon where a steep hike leads along the sheer cliff and rewards you with amazing views over the whole area, but a labyrinth of the gigantic weathered sandstone beehives not unlike the Bungle Bungles really made it for us. As a farewell of our round trip we got to see the gorges and canyons of the West Macies that shine and impress in all imaginable forms and structures.

Back in Alice we started our preparation for our next Outback Adventure. Which track we chose this time you can read in the next report.

 Till soon.

Sonja und Markus


Here it goes to the pictures...

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