Final day in the Outback before heading off to Sydney for a few final days of vacation.
I had an amazing night sleeping out under the stars in my swag. Have to admit it was one of the best sleeps I had in the outback and would do it again in a heartbeat. No rain, just a tiny 30 second shower at 6.30am before the sun came up.
A nice leisurely morning packing up camp and the final 10 of us were off to our last stop before being delivered to Alice Springs and we scatter to the 4 winds. This time off to Standley Chasm for a short walk with a guide who is very familiar with the area followed by a history lesson of the indigenous peoples and many of the recent discoveries that are changing the written history of man over tea/coffee and scones.
The chasm has a lovely path and walk up to it. Our guide, Kevin (very much like Neil was in the Daintree – articulate speaker and very knowledgable) stopped along the way showing us various plants, bugs and talked about the history of the area.
Arriving at the chasm the rock structure is pretty neat to see but more interesting was Kevin talking to us about how this place was sacred to the Arrernte women of the region. The place was traditionally used by women to collect plants for medicine and preform their rites. Kevin claimed that much of the history has been lost and the place is no longer used yet a bit of digging on the internet seems to indicate, much like the men’s caves at Uluru, this place is still sacred to women who do know the history and practice ceremonies with those woman who allowed to be told. Regardless, I am happy to see that the land is still sacred.
Kevin also talked about the names and dates carved high on the walls and his research of trying to figure out who or what the meaning was. Unfortunately my photos don’t show the carvings very well so I don’t have the names and the dates but it is a mystery. The dates actually precede the arrival of white man in the area yet the names are clearly British. So the number must mean something else. In addition the carving is very high up on the rock, how was that done? On horse back? Anyhow it was an interesting story that I have forgotten the details of 😦
After the walk we relaxed in a nice air conditioned tent with tea, coffee, scones and cookies while Kevin showed us many of the traditional weapons that he is proficient in and talked about how they developed over time to make hunting and gathering more efficient. Out of respect, no pictures were taken. Kevin also talked to us about many of the findings that are being found in Australia today that now indicate that the oldest man may not have been out of Africa but out of Australia. But there are many theories and controversy around that subject.
No one really felt like lunch after all the scones and cookies so we socialized a bit by the truck before Suzie piled us all in and headed for the big city of Alice Springs. Dropping us one by one at our hotels as we said goodbye to such a great group.
My hotel turned out to be “ok” but barely. This place is hanging on by a thread, restaurant is closed and in bad need of renovations. I would not be staying there again. My choice of hotels in Cairns and Alice Springs were definitely off the mark. But it was clean and I was able to get my laundry done again and repack for my flight to Sydney the next day.
Met up with my new Australia buddies, Carla and Carol for a final meal at their hotel (way better then my place) where I had my best meal of kangaroo 🙂 Was sad to say goodbye but we will meet again as we stay in touch in anticipation of my next trip to Australia.