Jul 27, 2009

West MacDonnell Ranges - East MacDonell Ranges

Leaving Redbank Gorge we headed to Glen Helen Station but it was a quick U turn when we entered and saw the typical row upon row of tents & vans camped up, definately not our scene so we continued on and drove down to Palm Valley Campground, the road was fairly corrugated but we just slowed down on the sections that we were not able to glide over due to washouts & dips after 45klms we came to the turnoff and another slow 16klm into Palm Valley campground, we were fortunate to arrive on the Friday and the Ranger was giving a campfire talk on the area and the history about the palms which was interesting.

The following morning we left the van and drove the slow 4klms into the valley, this involved low range 4WD as there was plenty of rock jump ups to get over, the F250 crawled over everything with ease. The 5klm walk around the valley was great, the scenery stunning and the views from atop on the return section were picture postcard stuff. We spoke to many other campers who had travelled the Merinie Loop road across the top to Kings Canyon and they all described the road as very rough but i felt confident that driven to the conditions we would have no trouble, and we didn't, yes the road was corrugated some of the worst i had seen in sections. We stopped a few times in the 200+ klms of the trip and checked everthing and nothing was out of place, with tyre pressures reduced the Van & Effy cruised over with no problems.

We came across a Prado that had rolled and left on the side of the track, a quick check to make sure no one was injured and i was amazed that none of the airbags had deployed. Soon we arrived at Kings Canyon Resort, in reflection we should have stayed the night on the track and driven to the Canyon in the morning as we didn't get much for our $31 unpowered site. We did meet some other BT & Kedron owners and had a quick chat about places we had all been and then went off to watch the sunset and hopefully get some nice photos.

The next morning we drove to Kings Canyon, we had decided to do the Rim walk around the top, this involved climbing a steep section to begin with and though Vickie eventually made it she wasn't so sure at the time. The rest of the walk around was reasonably easy with some rock climbing following a well signposted route. The views were stunning and the rock formations were very similar to the Bungle Bungles in sections. So with 3 decent walks behind us & the rough roads we felt we had accomplished something.

Leaving Kings Canyon we decided to drive the 100klms back on the Ernest Giles road to save us the extra distance out to the Uluru roadand back onto the Stuart Hwy. We had been warned that this was worse than the Loop road and the sign at the start stated Unsuitable For Caravans but how difficult can it be we thought, so off we went thinking when is the horror road going to start? After 50klms we knew why it was good as we came across the grader, but to be honest the 2nd section was no worse than any other dirt corrugated road we have been on. Half way we came across a Holden SS Commodore that had ground to a halt, it wasn't hard to see why as it had no back drive wheels, both had disintegrated as the car had been driven along without it's tyres, 10klms further along it's bumper was along side the track. I figured that it had been driven like it had been stolen and intended to report it to the Police. We stayed a night at the Henbury Meteorite Craters and in the moring walked around the rim, amazing to read that a meteor the size of a 200lt drum could cause such an impact, mind boggling to think what size caused the Wolf Creek Meteor crater.

Back in Alice Springs for the day & night we booked into the MacDonnell Ranges Van Park, at $41 a night we wont bother again. We received a message from Kimbo that he was on the Tanami and heading to Alice, he also mentioned that Clive & Claudia were in town so tonight we caught up with them and went to Bojangles for tea. Tomorrow [22nd] we head to the East MacDonnell Ranges for 4 nights bush camping before coming back into Alice a few days in advance before Vickie flys to Adelaide for her eye injection.

More photo's here

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