Eventually blue patches of sky appeared above Kulgera, but not enough to breath life back into our plans to cross the Simpson Desert, that trip will be rescheduled for 2022. We weren’t completely sure where we would be going for the next two weeks, but we were assured that the plan would emerge as roads opened and tracks dried. In the mean time however we were going to be treated to a special destination – Kings Creek Station in heart of the West MacDonnell Ranges.
The group we ended up with were fitting together well, with a mix of ages and rig types that also kept it interesting and provided fuel for some banter. The line up included:
– Trent Moon, tour leader in his 79 Cruiser towing an AOR Sierra ZR
– Ron Moon, tailgun Charlie, shepherding the group in his GU Patrol stretched conversion.
– Ron and Leesa, 200 series Cruiser and AOR Sierra
– Bruce and Deb, 76 Cruiser and Mk5 TVAN
– Tim and Julie, 150 Prado and Mk5 TVAN
– John and Tess with their two young kids, 79 Cruiser and Mk4 TVAN
– Doug and Trish, 78 Cruiser Troopie and AOR Odyssey
– The Travelling Two with our 200 series Cruiser and Patriot X3
– Two couples opted out of the mystery tour, vowing to regroup for next year’s reattempt at the Madigan crossing.
This was quite a convoy when heading down the road and ended up quite long when spaced out on dusty dirt roads. We maintained comms on UHF #16, with the first call being to head north up the Stuart Highway to Erldunda Roadhouse for smoko and our next instructions.
From here we turned west onto Lasseters Highway, then north west to Kings Creek Station, our camp for the next few nights. The drive out had plenty of water crossings, although easy to manage on sealed road with concrete floodways. Despite being in a desert region the scenery changed constantly, from open mitchell grass plains to stands of desert oak that resembled images from a Dr Seuss book, and then to the red escarpments of the West MacDonnells.
We wheeled into the Kings Creek Station roadhouse area for introductions to the manager who then escorted us to a special camp site, the elevated Old Drovers Camp on edge of a jump up with majestic views all around.
The group spread ourselves along the escarpment edge, each with a private view over the stunning countryside. Suzzanne took opportunity to do some laundry before leaving Kulgera and now had a chance to air it out in the most beautiful of settings.
The following morning we woke early and headed to the jewel of the West Macs, the renowned Kings Canyon gorge in the Watarrka National Park. We wanted an early start to beat both the heat and the tour buses, because our plan was to undertake the 6km rim walk. First stage of the walk was a heart pounding 500+ stairs, straight up side of the gorge, and from there an easier walk around edge of the astoundingly beautiful gorge top.
Wow, what an amazing place. We were so lucky to walk the gorge so soon after rain, with one ranger mentioning that he hadn’t see water flowing through it like this in 20 years. The facilities and the experience are both world class and a must-see destination for anybody in this part of the world.
We headed to the nearby resort to try and book a helicopter flight but unfortunately the choppers were not operating in the area at the moment and the receptionist couldn’t tell us when they would be back… which seemed strange but we took that as an omen to keep going and headed back to camp.
The afternoon’s plans included a sight seeing tag along tour through Kings Creek Station. We tailed behind the station manager who showed us the original homestead and working yards of the station, then an old aboriginal pectroglyph site that was a special place to see.
The group were then given a special treat, with a visit to the Karrke Aboriginal Culture Experience, a family run enterprise that demonstrates how the central Australian aborigines lived in this harsh wilderness. The group’s skills include production of art work and we purchased a small print depicting acacia seeds fallen to the ground.
After a big day of exploring we headed back to camp for a rest and then dinner, followed by a session around the communal camp fire with our touring friends. We learnt about next leg of our trip, which would see us head to the East MacDonnell Ranges and a camp at the Ross River Homestead – we’ll catch up with you again from there.