Friday, May 29, 2015

Chambers Pillar Sunday 17 May

We travelled to Chambers Pillar which is about 200km south west of Alice Springs and on the northern edge of the Simpson Desert. We travelled via the Stuart Highway then Hugh River Stock Route to avoid a convoy of Army vehicles which was planning to go south the same day. Although dirt, it was an excellent road but had several gates to be opened and closed. Travelling south along the Maryvale Road, not as good as the previous one, we encountered several motorcyclists practising for the Finke Desert Race in early June. The track runs next to the road and is fairly rough. They travel south from Alice Springs to Finke, about 200km, stay overnight then do the return trip the next day. It’s a mighty test of endurance.

Track for the Finke Desert Race
After Maryvale Station the road deteriorated and was mainly sandy with large corrugations, with some rocky sections and a steep climb which needed low gear. Despite the road in, the trip was worth it. Chambers Pillar is outstanding and the colours were vivid in the afternoon sunlight. It was named by John McDouall Stuart in 1862, and the earliest names carved into the sandstone date from 1867. It became a landmark for many early explorers and it’s easy to see why. Although there are many typical desert landforms nearby there is nothing with the distinctive shape and colour of Chambers Pillar.
The road to Chambers Pillar

In the centre of this photo faintly visible like a lighthouse is Chambers Pillar

A view from Chambers Pillar, with the pillar reflection

Graffiti carved into the sandstone, The earliest from John Ross in the 1860s

Another view from Chambers Pillar

Above and below, different views of the Pillar

Surrounding countryside with the campsite among the trees

There are 2 campgrounds nearby maintained by Parks and Wildlife Service which had toilets and firepits, so we were able to have a fire. Thankfully it was a warmer night than the previous few in Alice Springs which had been down to near zero. The only negative was the flies. Despite strong repellent we had to get our lovely black flynets to wear until the sun went down and the flies miraculously disappeared.

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