Saturday, May 23, 2015

Alice Springs and surrounding areas 13-19 MayPart 1

Our previous visit to this part of Australia focussed on Uluru, the Olgas and many parts of the West Macdonnell Ranges. Rather than revisiting these places we found plenty to see that was new to us. Can you fill in a week in and around Alice Springs? Certainly, we did with ease.

Phil Selman who had previously worked at Alice Springs Hospital offered to show us the places we hadn’t seen. The first was Areyonga, an aboriginal community about 200km west of Alice, where access to non- aboriginal people is by invitation only. As Phil knew the clinic manager Deb O’Reilly we were allowed to visit. Our impression of the community is that it is cleaner and more orderly than we expected. Several women regularly paint there and we bought one of their paintings. A group of them belong to a Lutheran Church Choir which is travelling to Germany shortly. That will be a phenomenal experience they will find mind blowing.
Their community store was a disappointing experience though, as the price of fresh vegetables and fruit was prohibitively high and a disincentive to good nutrition. Also school attendance is poor, with a lot of work to be done to bring it up to acceptable levels.

A small selection of the women's artwork
Part of the township
The entry. It is a remote area

Albert Namatjira and Hermannsberg
We briefly visited Hermannsberg in 2004 and found it depressing and confronting with bars on the supermarket windows. It has improved since then. Although it was too late to have a good look at the old Mission buildings we were able to have a look at the house that Albert Namatjira lived in with his family. It is quite small and only had 2 rooms, but has been well maintained by his descendants.
Albert Namatjira's 2 room house near Hermannsberg

 East Macdonnell Ranges
Our next major day trip was to Emily and Jessie Gaps where there is good aboriginal artwork. Then we travelled further on to Ross River Homestead. It has retained its early building but extended it to provided good dining and accommodation facilities for groups. The walls in the original house are very thick and made probably of stone, and painted white. Their dog is very much at home there and has learnt to open the door himself. The homestead is a green oasis in otherwise dry surroundings.
Emily Gap artwork

Emily Gap

Jessie Gap artwork

Jessie Gap

The dog reclining at Ross River Homestead

The original kitchen/dining area at Ross River Homestead

Ross River Homestead

Further on was the magnificent ghost gum, believed to be the oldest in the East Macdonnells. It is believed to be more than 300 years old and is a magnificent sturdy tree with its white trunk and branches demanding to be noticed and admired.
The 300 year old ghost gum, above and below

Trephina Gorge was the highlight of the day. It is a bend in the river with vibrant red rock walls which have been eroded over a long period. It was an easy walk through the sandy riverbed. In some places the rocks have been worn smooth through the constant action of water. In some years a pool remains in the gorge and is popular for swimming. Despite being over 100km from town it is a popular spot for camping and picnicking. Trephina Gorge’s acoustics are magnificent and it has been the venue for a choir accompanied by a chamber orchestra. 
Trephina Gorge

Trephina Gorge

Trephina Gorge

Trephina Gorge

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