Namatjira Country

Grave of Albert Namatjira, Alice Springs

Grave of Albert Namatjira, Alice Springs

Australian Aboriginal artists produce unique abstract works, usually “dot” paintings, illustrating their secret legends coyly, beautifully and mysteriously. But the first Aboriginal painter to come to the notice of Western art lovers was one who painted in the Western style – Albert Namatjira (1902 – 1959). He’s buried in the Alice Springs Memorial Cemetery, under the white trunk of a ghost gum, trees which so often framed his views of the Central Desert.

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The Desert in Bloom

 

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It takes very little rain to bring the Central Australian desert into bloom. Just a few millimetres per month over the last 18 months has brought all the wildflowers open to the sun. It’s an extraordinary sight, best appreciated while walking. I’ve found that many of my photos from hiking the Larapinta Trail and visiting Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon in July are photos of brilliant blooms. Here’s a photo journal of those gorgeous wildflowers. Enjoy. Continue reading

Who was Standley? Naming the desert.

A Chasm by any other name...

A Chasm by any other name…

In Central Australia many of the places and geographical features bear the names conferred upon them by 19th century explorers. Since exploring was (and is) an expensive activity, the early explorers repaid their financial backers by naming bits and pieces of the countryside after them. Thus, Central Australia is littered with the names of otherwise long-forgotten businessmen and politicians. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t spare a grateful thought for these chaps, who after all did stump up the necessary funds, but nevertheless it does seem more apt when the traditional Aboriginal names are resumed. Continue reading

Mt Sonder: Summit Day!

 

Mt Sonder, West MacDonnell Ranges, NT (1380 m)

Mt Sonder, West MacDonnell Ranges, NT (1380 m)

Any trek worthy of the name includes a Summit Day — towards the end of the trail, a good-sized mountain is scaled, and the triumphant summiteers look out over the country they’ve spent the last week or so hiking. The idea of  one last, great push and a wonderful reward at the end is what summiting is all about. Our group may have been glampers rather than campers, but we were still prepared to get up BEFORE DAWN to make our summit push. We did, of course, pause for good coffee and fresh porridge around the campfire, but by 6.30 AM we were at a look-out point watching the sun come up and light the eastern face of our objective: Mt Sonder, all 1380 metres of her.

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The Mighty Finke River

An 'ephemeral' river...Central Australia

An ‘ephemeral’ river…Central Australia

Could you name the oldest river in the world, that has never changed its course? A river that doesn’t flow to the sea but, after heavy rains, floods its banks and covers up to 10,000 sq kilometres of the land? The Aboriginal people of Central Australia named it the Larapinta. Continue reading

Ormiston Gorge: Magnificent

Ormiston Gorge - definitely magnificent.

Ormiston Gorge – definitely magnificent.

Ormiston Gorge and Ormiston Pound together form one of the West MacDonnell Ranges’ most popular visitors’ spots. They’ve even got a ranger station, a Visitors Centre, and a café out there. “Best coffee between here and Alice Springs” said the sign (not a high bar, we thought, since there’s probably NO other coffee between here and Alice Springs – 135 kms away.) Continue reading