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Retrace 1996: Kings Canyon
Tuesday 24th September 1996 6:40pm
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The rocks on the cliffs around us are glowing blood red. The great central Australian cliche caught momentarily, culminating the quest of so many of these campers who can be seen reverently watching from vantage points here at the Kings Canyon camping ground.

We have pitched our tents on a deep swathe of green kikuyu and we have it all to ourselves. The hundreds of other campers prefer to be next to their cars or buses on bare red dust, odd? Pink galas and a tame yellow beaked tree hopper-like bird are around us. The galas are making a terrible racket. Behind us is an over chlorinated pool full of pubescent girls. Jack is scratched and bothered , he won't go in, nor will Bonnie (fortunately). Germans amble past as we feel in all of this the full weight of central Australian tourism. This is where the bitumen road starts or finishes depending on which way you are going. This is tour bus territory. It is awful.

Palm detail - Palm Valley

This morning a dingo decided to howl within feet of us. A mournful almost speech like howl really. Susan and I got up just before dawn and walked down to Palm Valley over the polished rocks horizontal rocks of the Finke. It was too far to go right up to the bulk of the trees but we certainly savoured the place and I took lots of close focus shots of the rock patterns etc. It was an interesting place. To his credit the ranger had given us enough information about the remnant palms and geology to open our eyes a little. The place had obviously suffered considerable damage. By the time we started back and reached the road, the four wheel drive camper trucks were arriving with the Hun hoards to add to the wear and tear. Perfect timing.

Palm Valley - tree washed down the Finke by flood

We stopped in at Hermannsburg again for some biscuits and headed off for Gosses Bluff on the Mereenie loop road. Gosses Bluff is a remnant crater. I've never stood inside a crater before. It was an awesome place and strictly controlled by way of Aboriginal sensitivities. There were set paths which were fenced off and another fence beyond which you could not go. We had lunch in a little shade house thatched with spinifex in which the National Park had displayed approved explanatory information. The heat was making everyone a little fractious. Emily drove us back to the turn off (maybe 100kms). She was doing very well with her gear changes and delighted in any passing car where she could give the casual finger wave. For the rest of the day the drive around the loop was hot and tedious. It did not have the charm of the MacDonnells and we were all sick of being in the car. Five to six hundred kilometres a day does leave much time for savouring the small and we were all very cramped and dusty.

Salt detail - Palm Valley

We all needed a shower and a rest so this place even at $34 seemed like a good idea. Certainly their spirits have risen and I must say I find watching all these people fascinating. Susan, has met some intriguing buddhist monk types.

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