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Home / Essays / 2014 / October / Day 8 - Australia 2014 - From Glen Hellen across the MacDonnel Ranges

Day 8 - Australia 2014 - From Glen Hellen across the MacDonnel Ranges

Rocks formation in the morning at Glen HelenGlen Helen was formally a cattle station but is now a tourist resort that caters to visitors that want to truly immerse themselves in the West Macs. Part of the former Glen Helen Station still exists, west of Redbank Gorge.

The day started early at 5:30 o'clock again. But the advantage of this is that you have the chance of a beautiful sunrise. And the sunrises in the outback are always amazing. So my first step, you can imagine was to pick up my camera bag und to go to the beautiful cliff I have been in the evening yesterday. And I guessed the early sunset beams were setting it in a warm magnificent light.

After we have had our breakfast with fresh coffee and toasts fresh on our campsite always freshly prepared from our tour guide Kathy, we left the beautiful Glen Helen Ressort

Glen Helen ResortFor camping, backpackers or motel guests, adventure holidays or a relaxing drive, Glen Helen Resort can cater to all styles of self drive holidays in the red centre.

with their comfortable pub, nice staff and beautiful surroundings and went to the Mt Sonder Lookout, from which we had a wonderful view over the plateau of the MacDonnel Ranges, which were framed from the two mountain range.

Sunrise in the MacDonnel RangesThe MacDonnell Ranges, an interim Australian bioregion, are located in the Northern Territory, and are a 644 km (400 mi) long series of mountain ranges located in the centre of Australia, and consist of parallel ridges running to the east and west of Alice Springs.

This day should become the day of the gorges. Then the MacDonnel Ranges offered a lot of them. If you want to get more information click here.

The first step on our daily tour should be the Redbank Gorge which we reached after an half an hour drive over a sealed and unsealed road. We did there a 30 minute walk through a beautiful dried-out river bed which was covered with majestic gum trees in a warm sunlight.

Dried-out river on the way to Redbank GorgeRedbank Gorge (Rwetyepme, pronounced 'roo-chip-ma') is a stunning gorge and chasm that is a refuge for many threatened plant and animal species.

Finally we get the tight steep gorge with a waterhole on the ground, in where some of our group took a swim.

Afterwards we were going to our second gorge, the Orminston Gorge. It was for me the most beautiful  of this day, because it was so varying. 

View in the Ormiston GorgeOrmiston Gorge offers visitors all the spectacular geology and landforms of the MacDonnell Ranges. The rugged scenery of the the Gorge is complemented by a near-permanent water hole.

We were walking on the Ghost Gum Walk which leads us at first over a steep but short climbing on a top with a spectacular lookout over the valley with the mountain crest in the background.

View from the highest point of the Ghost Gum Walk in the OrmistoGhost Gum Walk takes about 15 - 20 minutes and winds down to the edge of Roe Creek. Starting at the Visitor Centre, this walk illustrates the native plants of the area including an ancient huge Ghost Gum.

The trail leads us on a slightly scoping way to the base of the gorge where a waterhole was located.

On the ground of the Ormiston GorgeThe water and the shelter of the rocks attract an interesting variety of native fauna and flora, including a number of relict plant species.

Our way return took us over large brown marbled rocks 

Rock formation in the Ormiston GorgeMassive geological forces created the towering red walls of Ormiston Gorge and Pound, located within the West MacDonnell National Park, 135 kilometres west of Alice Springs.

to a sandy river food plain with a waterhole again where some of our members of the group took a swim.

Waterhole in the Ormiston GorgeWithin the gorge is a permanent waterhole, estimated to be at least 14 metres deep, which provides a refreshing finale to a day's exploring.

On the picnic area of the Orminston Gorge Kathy prepared a lunch for us s always delicious.

The next stop of our daily tour shouldn't be a gorge but a Ochre Pit.

Layers of different collors of sandstone in the Ochre PitsThe pits consist of several layers of multi-coloured, layered rock that was traditionally used by Australian Aborigines in ceremonies and played an important role in the continent's economy, being traded with neighbouring clans and "countries", in every direction on the continent.

 I think the most of my readers don't know what a Ochre Pit is like I didn't know it before to. The pits consist of several layers of multi-coloured, layered rock that was traditionally used by Australian Aborigines in ceremonies and played an important role in the continent's economy, being traded with neighbouring clans and "countries", in every direction on the continent. Ochre has always been an important part of Aboriginal culture and a vital part of everyday life. For medicinal purposes red ochre can be mixed with grease and applied as an ointment and to relieve decongestion when mixed with eucalyptus leaves. White ochre was used as a magical charm, when mixed with water and blown from the mouth it is believed to abate the heat of the sun or the force of the wind. Weapons were painted with ochre to increase the success of hunting. It also protected the wooden weapons from termites. 

Rose of desertThe desert rose (Adenium obesum) is a striking plant with swollen succulent stems and deep red flowers.

The last gorge of the day which we visited was the Everly Greek Hole. 

View in the Ellery Greek WaterholeHigh red cliffs, a large waterhole and a sandy creek fringed by gums make this one of the most popular and picturesque picnicking spots in the West MacDonnell Ranges.

Because of the heat of  the day a few people of our group were taking a swim the waterhole. 

Me too. 

Hagen in the Ellery Greek WaterholeThanks to Fabio and Anna for making this capture

On a parking site some members of our group left us because the had booked only a four day trip.

The rest of the group stayed overnight deep in the Bush.

And after a eventful day we slept after a beautiful sunset 

Sunset over the deepest outback close to the Hugh riverThe Outback is the vast, remote, arid area of Australia. The term "the outback" is generally used to refer to locations that are comparatively more remote than those areas named "the bush" which, colloquially, can refer to any lands outside the main urban areas.

under a sky of millions of stars of the milky way very well.

Our campsite under the milky wayThe last night of our outback tour we were staying only with our sleepsacks and a bonfire in the deep bushland. It was an experience I will never miss.