Under blue skies and a typical warm red centre morning, we headed in the opposite direction to visit the West Macs. Apparently this is the lingo for those in the know for the West MacDonnell Ranges. It is convenient that when you drive into Alice, you pass through a natural gap that divides the range neatly in half. First stop just out of town was Simpson’s Gap, a split in the range and an almost permanent water hole. No doubt a nice surprise for John McDouall Stuart when he passed by here in 1860.
Simpsons Gap. Apparently it dries out only very rarely.
Next on the ‘West Macs’ list was Standley Chasm, a place many avoid because the T/O’s (Traditional Owners) slug you $10 per person to enter. The reality is that this is a fabulous place, quiet and tranquil, with sheer walls rising at least 30 m above you, a perfect refuge from the heat, even better if you’re there alone. If a small entry fee dictates whether people should visit a place of natural wonder, perhaps they should reconsider their entire trip.
Kris contemplating the serenity of Standley Chasm.
After a rocky 2 km drive off the bitumen to Elery Creek Big Hole, we found a campsite on a not quite level block. A mix of our leveling ramp and some shovel work on the opposite wheel sorted that out. Clearly the money spent by National Parks runs out by the time they decide to level their sites.
Elery Creek Big Hole.
We visited the swimming hole after setting up, one toe dab confirmed the water was COLD. A quick check with my watch confirmed it was indeed cold at 17.7 C. We thought we’d wait until the heat of the next day to brave any further submersion. Next morning, after a lovely 3 km walk around the dolomite rocks, we all went in. It didn’t get any warmer. The boys loved it though, and got the boogey boards out to paddle around the water hole. It probably helped that they were clad in their wet suits. We discovered later that Big Hole has been measured at 40 m deep!
Sam and James enjoying the dolomite rocks on a section of the Larapinta Trail.
Sam suggested we pose as superheros, could you guess?