Mersey Bluff

The waters of the Mersey River travel 147km from Lake Meston in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park to escape into Bass Strait at Mersey Bluff on the northwest coast of Tasmania.

1.Mersey Bluff

The dolerite headland was formed 185 million years ago in the Jurassic Age. As the rock cooled, joints and fractures were created along with some very flat surfaces, providing places where the Aborigines would sit and carve.

2.Mersey Bluff

Tiagarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place has been closed for quite some time due to lack of funding. The building houses the history, art and culture of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people and there are several rock carvings and middens along the bluff walk.

3.Tiagarra

The lighthouse was completed in 1889 and was automated in 1920. The addition of four vertical red stripes in 1929 make it quite distinctive.

We followed the footpath around the bluff with spectacular views of the coastline to the east.

6.Mersey Bluff

There are many rock formations along the way, it’s not difficult to see why this one is called ‘the hat’.

7.The Hat

The lighthouse receded behind us

8.lighthouse

as we rounded the point, the sun highlighting the colours in the rocks.

9.rocks

I could sit for hours and watch the incoming tide sneak its way into each crevice, retreating angrily in defeat.

10.Mersey Bluff

11.Mersey Bluff

Diamonds sparkled on the water as far as the horizon.

14.Mersey Bluff

We passed a craggy memorial to a brave young man who lost his life while trying to save another.

17.Mersey Bluff

The path continues to Mersey Bluff Reserve but we took the short cut back instead, through the picnic ground with serene water views.

19.Mersey Bluff20.Mersey Bluff

Standley Chasm

A short drive from Simpsons Gap, in the West MacDonnell Ranges, is Angkerle Atwatye, as it is known by the local Aborigines. The European name was given in honour of the first school teacher in Alice Springs in 1914, Mrs. Ida Standley. The walking track follows a creek

1-walk

dotted with spring fed pools.

2-stream

Ferns and cycad palms are a reminder that this arid region was once lush

3-cycad

and the gum trees thrive in the moist gully floor.

4-cycad-gums

The red quartzite cliffs are magnificent,

5-cliffs6-cliffs7-cliffs

formed over millions of years as flood waters have cut their way through the Chewings Range.

8-cliffs

We finally reached the spectacle that is Standley Chasm,

9-chasm

the 80 metre high walls guarding the natural alleyway.

11-chasm

As we moved closer, the majesty beyond was revealed.

Simpsons Gap

Returning from Uluru to Alice Springs, we passed some stunning landscape

as we headed for Simpsons Gap in the West MacDonnell Ranges. Flanked by towering cliffs,

5.Creekbed Walk6.Creekbed Walk7.Creekbed Walk9.Creekbed Walk

we followed the Creekbed Walk along the edge of Roe Creek.

10.Roe Creek

It’s hard to imagine how this sandy bed

12.Roe Creek

managed to carve the gorge that is Simpsons Gap.

14.Simpsons Gap15.Simpsons Gap

The permanent waterhole attracts an abundance of wildlife

16.Simpsons Gap

and is home to the black-footed rock wallaby. I think we were there at the wrong time of day to see any.

Kata Tjuta

Kata Tjuta, meaning ‘many heads’ in Anangu language, is otherwise known as The Olgas, a group of 36 domed rock formations 25km east of Uluru.

The tallest peak, Mt Olga, is 198m higher than Uluru and was named in 1872 in honour of Queen Olga of Württemberg, the daughter of Tsar Nicholas I.

2.Kata Tjuta

We set out early and spent the morning exploring the magic of Kata Tjuta.

3.Kata Tjuta

The first part of the Valley of the Winds walk was quite easy along a gravel track

4.Valley of the Winds walk

with some stunning scenery.

5.walk

8.Kata Tjuta

Karu Lookout gave a hint of the extent of this spectacular rock formation.

9.Karu lookout

We continued on past incredible escarpments

10.escarpment

and rock faces.

The path became narrow and rugged

13.path

as it meandered within the domes,

over trickling creek beds.

16.creek

In places, the trail all but disappeared and we had to scramble up the steep slopes.

 

The rock domes are the remains of erosion that began over 500 million years ago and extend six kilometres into the ground.

The track improved a little

22.track

just before we reached the gap in the rocks that is Karingana Lookout.

24.Karingana Lookout

From there, the path descended very steeply to the bottom of the valley to complete a circuit walk. We opted to retrace our steps instead, our feet sighing with relief as we drove away, with fabulous memories of Kata Tjuta.

25.Kata Tjuta

Sounds of Silence

One of the highlights of our stay at Uluru was the Sounds of Silence dinner. It began with a bus ride to a sand dune in the middle of nowhere. We indulged in canapés and sparkling wine

1.us

as we watched the descending sun

2.setting sun

change the hues of Uluru.

3.Uluru4.Uluru sunset

Behind us, Kata Tjuta was transforming

5.Kata Tjuta

as the sun sank lower. Sol finally slipped below the horizon

6.setting sun7.sunset

and while trying not to take our eyes off the spectacle around us,

8.Uluru sunset9.Kata Tjuta sunset

we made our way along a path to our restaurant. The kitchen was well equipped

10.kitchen

and the formal table settings contrasted sharply with the surrounding landscape.

11.table setting

While we got to know our fellow travellers

12.tables

we listened to the stirring sounds of a didgeridoo

13.didgeridoo

and enjoyed some of Australia’s finest wines. The bush tucker inspired buffet included barbecued barramundi, kangaroo, emu & crocodile. The last glow lit up the horizon

14.sheoak sunset

and the dark sky came alive with stars.

The resident star talker introduced us to the wonders of the universe and we had the opportunity for a close up view of Saturn and the Earth’s moon through his amazing telescope. The lighting around the perimeter created a warming ambience

and as the desert evening cooled down, the gas heaters were welcomed.

Replete with food, wine and good company, it was a very quiet bus ride back to the resort.