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Central Australia with Dad and Ian   -   22.07.2012

By popular demand (read: nagging from my Dad) I’m going to step out of order in my Australian adventures and post photos from the part where my Dad and brother came over for a week in the Red Centre.

When I told my brother, Ian, that Dad planned to meet me for 2.5 weeks in Australia he invited himself along for 1 week, which sounded like a great idea. Since Ian already visited parts of Victoria and Tasmania while I lived there several years ago, we decided to meet up in Central Australia.

Dad and I left Melbourne on a typical winter day and flew north to the desert, where Ian arrived shortly after us on a long flight from Seattle.

Queuing up to take off in Melbourne. (Photo taken with camera phone.)

Flying over the desert. There’s really nothing out there!

Flying over the West MacDonnell Range on approach to Alice Springs. (Photo taken with camera phone.)

After picking up our rental car and stocking up on food, water and fuel we drove south to Rainbow Valley, arriving just in time for sunset.

The stars in the desert were incredible!

We spent the next day driving to Uluru and arrived with enough time to walk around its base in the baking afternoon sun. I must say that I find the way the colours of the rock change over the course of the day quite spectacular!

At sundown.

Just after sunset.

We camped in the town of Yulara that night and woke at stupid o-clock to get in line and wait for the park to open in the morning. I wanted to take photos of Kata Tjuta before sunrise. . .but so did everyone else in Central Australia. This wouldn’t have been an issue if the NPS didn’t force the hundreds of visitors onto one big metal viewing platform (to prevent erosion of the dunes). By not having a separate platform for tripods it meant that all it took to make a blurry photo was one of the hundreds of people to move. . .or breath. And don’t get me started on the inconsiderate jerk behind me chain-smoking for a full hour (who also left her butts in the dune). I hope the back of my head plagues all her shots!

After sunrise and a second cuppa we did the loop walk around Kata Tjuta, which was very cool and far more spectacular than Uluru (though I think that’s what everyone says).

We finished all the walks in the park by late morning and, with nothing left to do and the heat too extreme to remain outside, we drove to Kings Canyon.

The following morning we walked the circuit around the canyon rim. It wasn’t so spectacular, if I’m honest, but the Garden of Eden was lovely and cool. Unfortunately, the pretty little gorges and oases were impossible to do justice in a photo so you'll have to make the trip to see it for yourself.

By the time we got back to the car we’d all had far too much sun and heat (there’s a bit of a theme going on here) and couldn’t bare to do another walk on exposed rock.

Spinifex pigeon in the Garden of Eden.

We picked up a permit to drive through Aboriginal land at a petrol station and drove north to West MacDonnell National Park. (If you work for the rental car company and are reading this, we actually drove all the way back to the Stuart Highway rather than using the direct route on 100+ km of unsealed roads.)

The West MacDonnell Ranges were quite interesting. We walked to all the gorges with easy access and were happily impressed (though not with the resulting photos). The only way I could be convinced to return to Central Australia is to walk the Larapinta Trail in its entirety and explore these and other remote gorges in the park.

Glen Helen Gorge (I think).

Can you spot my Dad in this one?

Serpentine Gorge.

I forget the name of this one.

Again, we found ourselves out of short walks to do by mid-morning so we drove far north to Karlu Karlu to see some more rocks. The drive was more boring than Nebraska. Seriously! We barely saw anyone and even at 130 km/h it went on forever. We arrived at sunset and as we pulled in another car towing a caravan left. Ian and Dad joked that the campsite was probably full and we'd have to turn back. We all had a good laugh (we’d barely seen anyone since leaving Yulara), until we rounded the corner and saw every caravan in the entire country parked on top of one another. Each one could touch the next and they even filled the ‘tents only’ area, which only effected us and one other person that decided not to tow their apartment around the country. So we pitched the tent and I rolled out my bivy in the parking lot and with the foot under the caravan next door.

While I cooked dinner I took some photos of the beautiful stars (or what I could see through all the light pollution). This is actually 12 images on top of one another, taken over nearly an hour. The spaces are there because I had to let my sensor cool between shots. And the lighting in the foreground is from caravan lights.

In the morning I got up early to take some pictures.

And after the sun came up Ian and I amused ourselves on the boulders for a while.

Photo cred: Ian

Can you see me in this photo?

From Karlu Karlu we reluctantly returned to the monotony of the Stuart Highway and drove south to Alice Springs. Once there, and with almost 20 h to kill before our flights out, we visited the small reptile centre in town.

(Photo taken with camera phone.)

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