Onwards to Kings Canyon
Jul 19, 2011
|Up and ready to set off this morning. I wandered just along the road 500m and took some photos of the infamous Todd River which only has water in it for a short time each year.
During the dry season they hold the Henly on Todd Regatta where participants build themselves a bottom less boat from beer cans and the sailors board their “boats” which are carried a length along the river in a foot race. It is quite a well known event in Australia. The Aboriginal tend to congregate along the river bed in the dry. Said hello to a flock of galahs enjoying breakfast on the lawns of the Resort.
When I walked back to the resort, John had checked out and discovered that breakfast was included with our two nights stay!!! Well, it was not just going to happen that he didn’t get our money’s worth and we proceeded into the restaurant for some coffee, fruit, muffins, and John had his bacon, egg, baked beans and mushrooms. A few laughs were had about it.
Stocked up on salad rolls for our usual lunch stop along the way, another bottle of cough medicine for me for the next few days and we were soon heading out of The Alice.
Just a short way out we made a brief stop a John Flynn’s grave site.
There was quite a controversy with this some years ago. Sitting atop the grave cairn was a rock – one of the Devil’s Marbles we visited on our way into Alice. The local tribe at the Marbles wanted their sacred rock back and there were years of dispute between the government and tribal elders about it. Finally the local tribe in Alice suggested a deal where the government give the damned rock back and they donated one of their sacred rocks instead. That now sits on top of the cairn.
Few more kms up the road and we made a detour into Standley Chasm.
Once again aboriginal land and had to paid our homage with $10 each to make the 20 min each way walk through to the chasm and back. Relatively easy walk alongside a little spring creek with huge rock walls looming over us. These rocks were the most beautiful shades of ochre red and brown which reflected the morning sunlight. Walking through a small ghost gum shaded bush pathway we eventually came across the chasm – a huge cleft in the rocks leaving a narrow passage way to walk through. The colours of the range of mountains showing through the end of the chasm were dazzling and I am sure our photos will not do it any justice at all.
Quick walk back and we were on our way again to Hermannsburg Mission.
Started in 1877 by two Lutheran Missionaries who had travelled overland from South Australia, it was named after Hermannsburg, Germany where they had trained. They set up quite an extensive community working amongst the aboriginals of the area. Disheartened in 1894 they abandoned the Mission and it was left to lay people until 1894 when Pastor Strehlow came. Over the years they set up gardens, date groves, a tannery, blacksmiths, schoolhouses and a church. Even in the 1930s more improvements were added and a tannery built to teach the aboriginal men more skills.
Our famous Australian Aboriginal painter Albert Namatajira was born at Hermannsburg in 1902 and learnt how to paint European style watercolours from a visiting artist.
He was allowed to become an Australian citizen in 1957 (up until the 1960’s aboriginals were basically wards of the state) but this caused him problems as he was allowed to buy alcohol and he was jailed for supplying it to another aboriginal. He became depressed and ill and died in 1959. His paintings are iconic scenes of ghost gums and the brilliant landscapes of the area around Hermannsburg.
The Mission was handed back to the traditional owners in 1982.
After we left Hermannsburg we had intended to take the 22km drive off the highway to go to Palm Valley. When we hit the turnoff the signs warned that it was an extreme 4WD track and would take 2 hours each way to do the 22km – we had not allowed for that time so we continued on our way towards Kings Canyon. Came across a sign for Albert Namatajiri’s house so we pulled in there to have our rolls for lunch and took a look at the little 2 roomed house that he called home, obviously after he became famous. It had been newly painted and a new red gravel path led up to it.
Compared to the other couple of houses in the vicinity it was quite well looked after.
Getting late by now and time to press on for the dirt road drive over to Kings Canyon. Quite soon we were travelling along a dirt road and only had another 198km to go. The road was horrendous to start with but at times it was quite smooth and felt like a sealed road. John was driving along one stretch of road that was quite reasonable at about 110kph when we were overtaken by a moron towing a trailer at around 130kph. The road was good but was still prone to changing in an instant. Just stupidity to drive like he was. Some 50 kms further on we stopped at a lookout and this character was there again.
This time he tried to overtake another 4WD who was going around a bend on the exit road to the lookout. From the lookout we could see him disappear off into the distance with his trailer bouncing along behind him. Fortunately we did not see him again, although we did think he may be staying where we were.
In no time, after a little wander into the bushes (no loos around) we were on our way to Kings Canyon. Apparently this site was not visited very often by whites or travelers until promoted by the Conway family who established their cattle station at Kings Creek.
Arrived around 4.30 at the canyon and were all stunned by the sheer beauty of the rock formations, beautiful rich reds and golds which were bathed in the late sunshine of the day.
We could have done the 6km rim walk but it was getting too late so we opted for the 2.5km canyon walk. We passed through the most beautiful bushland I have ever seen. It was a dry creek bed with plenty of ghost gums along the edges, coolibah trees, holly grevillias, bush plums and spinifex grass. Where steps were needed to create a stable path, they have been erected to blend in with the landscape. Once again, words and most likely our photos cannot explain or depict the true beauty of this spot.
Time however was passing and we needed to reach our accommodation for the evening, Kings Creek Station, some 30kms from the Canyon. Darkness was just falling as we located the Station and made our way in. Luckily, we arrived just in time to order some dinner which stopped at 6.30. We ordered our meal then, while there was still a little light, we tried to locate our bush tent for the night. Yes, tent!!!! Not your normal sort of tent, these had a steel frame with canvas walls. Each had a tiled floor and had electricity and light along with 2 single beds, a fan and a heater. Back at the restaurant we quickly polished off our burgers and steak sandwiches and made our way back to our tents. John stayed at the communal camp fire for about an hour talking to some French and Swiss tourists but we were all in bed by 9pm.
So, so lucky with the weather since we left Katherine. It has been around 20C each day, coolish mornings but ever so pleasant with a cool breeze. hope it continues this way for a bit longer but know it is going to be cold in Coober Pedy.