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On our third day in Alice Springs, Kelly, Trin, and I took a day tour of the West Macdonnell Ranges via Emu Run Tours. The day was a combination of nature walks, listening to local folklore, and looking at rocks – a geologist’s delight!

Our first stop was the grave site of John Flynn, considered the father of the Royal Flying Doctors Service. From there we visited Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm, the Ochre Pits, and Ormiston Gorge. In the afternoon, we went to Glen Helen and lastly, to Ellery Creek Bighole. It was a relief to find out that there are no crocodiles in this part of Australia. Whew.

John Flynn's grave site.

John Flynn’s grave site.

Walking towards Simpsons Gap. This is a dry river bed. There hasn't been enough rain in the past decade for water to flow through it.

Walking towards Simpsons Gap. This is a dry river bed. There hasn’t been enough rain in the past decade for water to flow through it.

Spot the rock wallaby.

Spot the rock wallaby.

Simpsons Gap.

Simpsons Gap.

Girls at the Gap.

Girls at the Gap.

The next set of photos were taken at Standley Chasm. The chasm was named after Ida Standley, the first government-appointed teacher in Central Australia. She taught the white children as well as the Aboriginal children in the area.

All food was included in our package tour and we had our morning tea at Standley Chasm. We got to know a little bit about our fellow tour members and our guide as well. There was a German girl and a French girl in our group. There was also an Italian guy. There were two other Australians in the tour as well. One of them, I had a chance to chat with when we were at the Ochre Pits. He was pleased to know I was of Filipino ethnicity and had talked to me in whatever Tagalog he could remember. He had visited the Philippines a few times either on outreach missions or to visit some Filipino friends.

Some geology for you.

Some geology for you.

Inside the Ochre Pits.

Inside the Ochre Pits.

It was almost noon when we left the pits and we headed next to Ormiston Gorge. That’s where we stopped for lunch and rested a bit. The French girl and the Italian guy went for a quick swim while the rest of us were happy to just sit around and take photos.

All these places that we went to form a part of what is called the Larapinta Trail. Hardcore hikers and campers can walk the entire trail and camp out along the way. I think it takes about 15 days to complete the entire trail. The Finke River flows along this area. The Aboriginal term for parts of this river is called “larapinta”. We learned from our guide, Ryan, that “larapinta” means bitter water. (Locals do attest to the water in the are as having a bitter taste).

Legend has it that a goddess was cradling her baby and as she looked down from the heavens, she dropped the baby to the earth. She came down to get back her baby but it was too late. The child didn’t survive the fall. Heartbroken, she laid down on the ground and cried. Her tears formed what is known as the Larapinta (Finke River). Bitter water.

The goddess that shed the tears which made the Larapinta River. Can you see her?

The goddess that shed the tears which made the Larapinta. Can you see her?

Our second to the last stop for the day was at Glen Helen Gorge. It was a chance to do our own little walks or maybe have a cold drink at the shop. It was nearly 3 in the afternoon and still pretty hot so we didn’t really walk very far from where our minibus was parked.

The last stop for the day – and last chance for a swim – was at Ellery Creek Gorge. When we got there, it was kinda crowded and the water didn’t look that appealing. But since it was very hot, we still went in the water. It did cool us down but I wasn’t game for submerging my head in it. No way. We got back to our motel (Alice Motor Inn) at around 6pm. No night out for us. We were tired! Plus, Kelly and I had to wake up early the following day for our Uluru day tour. At least Trin got to sleep in the next day.

Ellery Creek Gorge.

Final stop: Ellery Creek Gorge.

Next installment: Uluru/Kata Tjuta (Ayers Rock/Olgas) Day Tour

– Giselle

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