Friday, October 30, 2009
Back to Alice Springs
In the morning we walked down to the gorge again, which looked quite different although just as beautiful in the strong sunlight.
Heading back towards Alice Springs, we stopped at Ormiston Gorge, now much less crowded, and enjoyed its towering cliffs and deep pools of water.
With so few people around, a trio of herons had also arrived on the sandbar along one edge.
They took off as another couple of visitors arrived on their strip of beach.
Another stop we had skipped on the way out was at the Ochre Pits, a place where aborigines have for years gouged the colourful clay out of the banks along the dry river bed, using it mainly for body paint. The steep banks were striped like rainbows in subtle hues of ochre, sienna, creamy white and lavender.
Only male aborigines are allowed to collect the clay; there's a fine of $5,000 for anyone else caught helping themselves.
The day was cooler than the previous four or five, which made everything more pleasant. We got back to Alice Springs, planning to stay again at the caravan park we'd been at before, but as we arrived about 5 cars full of noisy schoolchildren, obviously on some kind of field trip, were pulling in. We beat a retreat to the G'day Mate Caravan Park just around the corner, not as well-groomed but green and leafy nonetheless,
and full of cheerful, mostly Aussie, types, a welcome change from all the severe Germans and Dutch in the first park. The couple across from us informed us proudly that they were grey nomads, having sold up everything in Terrigal where they had lived for 30 years. (Terrigal is one of the ugly coastal towns north of Sydney, with glaring red-brick villas and strip malls. No wonder they were enjoying the rest of Australia!) They had been at the G'Day Mate Park for 5 weeks. In the back window of their van was this sign.
Not long after we arrived, the woman received a customer. She set up a little stool in the shade and gave her henna-haired client a short-back-and-sides with electric clippers. I was tempted to get a trim, just for the photo-op, but ran out of time. (Too busy updating this blog.)
Getting to this caravan park involved crossing the Todd River.
We were a month too late for the annual Henley-on-Todd regatta. There are classes for rowing fours and eights, sailing boats and dinghies. The crews hold up the bottomless hulls and run down the river bed.