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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

16 May 2011

Red Centre

15th May 2011

Today was awesome, and I try to use that word sparingly.

We’ve already been on some dirt roads in our Toyota Landcruiser already in the red centre, but then again we drove down lots of dirt roads in our tiny Hyundai Getz. Today we drove the bone-shaking Mereenie Loop track which cuts 260kms from Kings Canyon to Glen Helen, and we also stopped to visit the verdant and beautiful Palm Valley. This lies at the end of a 22km dirt track which actually is the Finke River bed along part of its length. Ho-ho! Forget your muddy track in the Ashdown Forest. This was proper four-wheel-driving. There were at least a dozen fords, some of them with rough and craggy rocks beneath the surface. There was soft sand through which we followed the tracks of previous vehicles and swayed alarmingly if we inched off-course. There was bare rock, which doesn’t sound so bad but next time you’re on a rocky seashore in Cornwall imagine driving over it. Great fun! Especially as we and the car survived intact.

I should add that Palm Valley was also worth the ride, a beautiful spot where palm trees survive in a sheltered gorge with permanent water in the bottom. The next nearest palms are thousands of kilometres north, this little grove having got separated millions of years ago when the climate was wetter.

Palm Valley is only just pipped into second place by yesterday’s walk around King’s Canyon. This is the most perfect Outback landscape, rusty sandstone crags and scraggly scrubby bushes with the occasional bone white gum tree providing a little shade. The canyon itself is utterly grand and the walk takes you right up to any number of vertigo-inducing viewpoints with none of the pesky wooden barriers that mar the landscape in other more nannied locations.


Finally, today is Dingo Day. We saw two of them, driving in the late afternoon. We were driving, not the dingos. One was the classic sandy colour, the other was jet black with just a tiny white tail-tip and a tawny chest.


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