We continued our trek south and arrived at Alice Springs. We ventured into the town for a bit of R&R and top up with groceries at the local supermarkets. There is plenty to see in Alice such as the Royal Flying Doctor Facilities, The old Telegraph Station and the wonderful nature/animal parks in the area. Alice Springs has a lot of history and is well worth spending an extra couple of days to look at everything that it has to offer.
Our plan was to use Alice Springs as our base for re-supplying (top up food, fuel, water etc), so we could explore the West MacDonnell Ranges, East MacDonnell Ranges, Kings Canyon and Uluru (Ayers Rock), planning to spend a week or so in each location and surrounding area.
The West Macdonnell Range is a fantastic area with a number of gorges where you can stay. We stayed three days at Ormiston Gorge (approximately 135klms west of Alice Springs) in the West Macdonnell National Park ($20 per night per vehicle) this area has toilet and shower facilities. Water is available from a tap, but not to each camp site. There is no dump point here however.
This a lovely area lots of great walks through the gorge, some taking up to 3 to 4 hours or as little as 1 hour. Then a swimming in the gorge (whilst cold) was great after a long hot walk. This place is a must to visit.
From Ormiston Gorge we headed to the Ellory Creek Big Hole camp area and spent 3 nights, along the way we stopped to look at Ochre Pits, which is well worth the look. You cannot camp here though. Ellory Creek Big Hole, is another fantastic area for walks and swimming. Fees are similar to Ormiston Gorge however there is no water or showers here only toilets. Be aware of the dingoes roaming around all through this area looking for food scraps etc.
Our next stop was the famous Standly Chasm. We overnighted, fees of $37 per night, included entry into the chasm, this area has water, shower and toilet facilities. The walk through the chasm was amazing and well worth the visit. We headed back towards Alice Springs stoping in to look at the famous Simspon’s Gap. This was truly amazing and if you are there at the right time you will see the sun setting through the gap (you cannot overnight here). We only stayed at three of the wonderful camping sites and gorges in this area, there’s a lot more to visit.
After a brief stay in Alice Springs we headed to the East Macdonnell Ranges.
We continued on to Gorge Campground at Trephina Gorge Nature Park. There is water on tap throughout the camps and toilet facilities, as well as covered picnic areas with gas BBQ’s. Cost per night was $3.30 per person. The area has great walks catering to all levels of fitness.
Then back to Alice Springs for a couple of nights ready for our trip to Kings Canyon and then Uluru (Ayers Rock).
We overnighted at the Desert Oaks Rest Area, which is free to camp at, it does get busy so be prepared. Arriving at Kings Canyon, we stayed at the Kings Canyon Van Park for one night as it was rather expensive at $50 per night. Our plan was to leave early in the morning to go to Kings Canyon for the day. Sunset and sunrise over the Canyon is well worth viewing. There are a number of walks in and around the canyon, these can be difficult in parts but well worth it, allow a full day to take it all in, with great views from the top (Note: you cannot camp at this site).
After leaving Kings Canyon we drove to our next free camp at Salt Creek Rest Area where we saw dingoes wandering around, so be careful. There are no facilities here apart from a water tank where you can get non-potable water. You need to be self contained for this spot.
Next day we turned west again heading to Uluru (Ayers Rock) where we stayed at the Ayers Rock Campground near Yulara, and decided to treat ourselves to dinner at the Resort, which was a wonderful change.
After two nights at Ayers Rock campground we drove out to look at the rock formations of Uluru and the Olga’s. You will go through an entry area where you have to buy a minimum of a three day entry pass costing $25 per vehicle.
As we had been to Uluru and the Olga’s before we planned to spend the day doing all the walks around the various rock formations. If you haven’t been there it is well worth spending a few days.
We left the Ayers Rock area and headed back to the Stuart Highway, planning to continue our travels to WA via Adelaide, to visit our grandchildren and family, but we will leave that for our next story.
All in all our coaster bus (purchased from The Motorhomes Conversion Co in Brisbane in 2013) was amazing and stood up to the challenge.
Thank you and safe travels from David and Noreen Lawson