By the way, in the last post I forgot to say where our final stop was that night. Well it was Ormiston Gorge. This is where the temporary tents were setup that I disliked and moved to the swag.
The day started very early. Like 12.01am 🙂 I had decided to sleep in the swag but it was apparent that we might get rain so I had moved down into a covered amphitheatre area at the gorge. It is covered like a clamshell so you can still see out at the stars while remaining under cover on a nice flat concrete surface. A swag is kinda like like a mini tent that looks like a big sleeping bag. Built into it is a thin mattress and the bottom is like a tent groundsheet to keep you dry from the ground and the top is like a heavy tent material. You slip your sleeping bag inside, zip yourself up (kinda like a morbid body bag) and you are all comfy and warm. It was way to warm to zip all the way up but it was quite comfortable and gives a wonderful view of the stars. It is unfortunate that Canada has so many nighttime flies as this would be a great rig for here – I suppose you could use a bug net…, although it does not roll up as small as I would like. But a cool rig for the outback.
Just after midnight I woke to lightening flashes off in the distance over the hills. Nothing I haven’t seen before but I watched it out of the corner of my eye thinking “good, it’s going to miss us”. I snoozed in and out. 45 minutes later it did a hard turn and came straight at us, thunder directly over head and down came the rain. No worries, I was nice and try, hunkered into the swag a bit deeper. Suddenly I hear running. I put my glasses on and shine my flashlight up the path and I swear I see Gumby running down the path. It’s our guide Suzie. She had been sleeping outside in her swag when the rain hit and she came running for cover with her swag. It was standing straight up in the air as she carried it running for cover, thus looked like a big green Gumby coming at me hahaha. She flopped it on the floor, crawled in and was fast asleep within minutes. You can tell she likes the outback.
The next morning we woke to continuing showers of rain and several of the folks in the tents had a rather damp evening. Some had wet bedding and tents while others had never experienced thunder and lightening like that before. I sometimes forget that other areas of the world are not like this.
This was to be a more leisurely day of visiting several the gorges and waterholes in the area. Had our breakfast and the first stop was right at our campsite. A walk around and through Ormiston Gorge.
It was still raining so I only took my smaller X100F camera with no zoom and I would later regret this a bit. But even with the smaller camera I missed several shots as I had it tucked in a ziplock bag to protect it. But still got some lovely shots. The hike around the rim is very easy but very beautiful and we got down to the beach and Suzie (god love her) asked everyone to just sit down, stop talking and listen and watch. Several goals here, one to enjoy the beauty of this spot, two, watch for wallabies that are in the area who will come out when they don’t feel threatened and three, just listen for birds and the hidden life around you. She asked for 5 minutes but easily stole 10 🙂 It was great! Wish we would have done more of this.
No wallabies in that part of the gorge but we then began walking up through the gorge over sand and rocks that have the most amazing colour stripes inside of them. I didn’t get any good pictures of them so if anyone from the trip has good shots of these rocks I would love one or two, please give me a shout. Sure enough, people started spotting the wallabies. I was far away for my little camera but between a good stable picture and Lightroom, I did get this one. A bit far but still, it was nice to see one.
Ormiston Waterhole is good for swimming and a couple of the group took advantage but I had taken a nice shower the night before and passed 🙂
Time to load up in the truck and we were off again. This time to Glen Helen Gorge where first we stopped at the Glen Helen Homestead Lodge for some flavoured “water” 🙂 (it was lunch time and all) before heading down to see yet another beautiful oasis for swimming and relaxing.
Back to the truck and off to the Ochre Pits. A sacred site where the indigenous people get their natural ochre for their body paints and rituals. The site has been used for thousands of years and it is protected. Very hefty fines if anyone picks rock or damages the area.
Back to the truck, a short lunch and off to Ellery Creek Big Hole, another spot with a picturesque swimming hole and a great spot to just sit on the beach and take it all in.
We had some time to kill so back to the Glen Helen Homestead Lodge to help combat the dehydration, have a group photo done as 6 of our party were leaving us that day. They were doing the 4 day adventure while the remaining 10 of us were carrying on for the 5th.
At this point there was s decision to be made. The tour is supposed to head out into the open Outback for sleeping in the swags completely away from everything. But with the rain, some of the group was a bit leery of sleeping out in the open while others really wanted nothing to do with the swags. Not sure how that came to be given the promotional material for this trip was to sleep solely in swags the last night. A compromise was made, we would stay at Ormiston Gorge again where there was cover but everyone would sleep in the swag and not the tents. I would have liked having the full outback but it was a good spot, fairly remote, yet still had the comforts of a washroom and shower if needed. I still feel that I got the full “Outback experience” as I moved away from the camp to sleep.
A great supper of steaks on the bbq and Suzie pulled out a bottle of port she had picked up along the way to show her appreciation for having such a great group. Turns our a few people had picked up wine bottles along the way as well so the festivities began. Now I am a lover of port and I had a chuckle at this bottle thinking about how bad it was going to be. A gag bottle. But hole shit, it was one of the Best Fucking Good Ports I have ever had! Either that or I was too sloshed to really notice it.
Wasn’t long before the stars came out. The rain was done with us, the sky cleared and the milky way made its grand appearance for me on my last night in the Outback. A couple of the younger European girls didn’t believe I could get a photo of this so I took them off to an area outside of the flashlights and ambient light and gave a lesson on how to shoot stars. I still messed these up a bit by having the exposure about 10 secs too long (you can see the starts smearing from their natural movement) but the results were still stunning. The milky way is so beautiful. They were blown away by the images and I believe I have a few new camera converts in Europe.
Soon it was time to stagger off to bed. Those who had slept under cover in the swags the night before, chose to head out into the open with me and sleep fully under the stairs while those who were still a bit hesitant of the swag slept under cover. But the entire group sleep in the swag and by morning everyone was converted.