West MacDonnell Ranges

We left Alice Springs after being told the only water around the area, after so long without rain was the West MacDonnell Ranges, so we headed out that way. Animals and birds need water. The West Macs branch out like ribbons of red quartzite rock for over 150kms west of Alice Springs. Here there are the highest mountains found west of the dividing range. Most of these are protected in National Parks. Many of the best places are gaps in these ranges where rivers have cut a pathway through, creating some stunning gorges and water holes. We also found out pretty quickly about the fires from Jan this year. They burned huge areas along the road and into the national park. Worse still they were not lightening lit, which is often how fires start out here but deliberate by some fool looking for a thrill. M

west macdonnell look out
View point on the side of the road in Western MacDonnells. Burned bushes in the foreground.

First stop Ellery Creek Big Hole. The Hole was not as big as when we were here 9 yrs ago in Jan after some rain. Big difference too were how many people were here. Last time there was nobody around most places.  There are so few birds around but Steve managed to find a new bird here the golden backed honey eater but he was unable to get a photo even though we both saw it each once. It was one of those that was not into posing. M

ellery creek big hole
Ellery Creek Big Water Hole named because it is the biggest water hole in a chain in Ellery Creek but probably the only one in the creek at the moment.
big hole swim
Steve swam to the other side of the cold water and explored. Hard to believe water can get so cold out here.
ellery big sunset
Sunset and waiting for the wildlife to come down.
white faced heron
This white faced heron called Ellery Creek home. He just got on with the job of hunting while you watched him. 
Rufous whistler 2
Rufous Whistler 
Australasian Grebe 2
This fluffed up Australiasian Grebe were happy to just cruise around looking for a feed while you watched.


steve swim ellery creek
There were a number of people at the water hole but only Steve, 2 people in wet suits and a 7 yr old boy were game enough to brave the cold cold water. The 7 yr old did not stay under even!
elery creek big hole on the morning
Early in the morning before the crowds got up.
dolomite walk with spinifex
We did the Dolomite walk from the campsite. The spinifex looked healthy here.
dolomite walk
The mountain ranges around here remind of of the Flinders. Very old rock!
ellery big cycads
These Cycads grew high on the cliffs above the waterhole not minding that they havn’t been rained on for a long time.

big hole

caution sign
South Australia was much lees paranoid. We are back to the warning signs again.

ellery big dinosaur

Next we headed up to Ormiston Gorge and did the Ormiston Pound walk. There was nobody else on the trail and when we entered the Pound it was like coming into a lost world. It is a valley enclosed in mountains with Ormiston creek running through it. It was a stunning walk and one that doesn’t seem to be done by most people. It is here in 1997 that 2 endangered mammals were rediscovered here. The long tailed dunnart and the central rock rat. So it’s an important refuge. They are nocturnal so we won’t be seeing them, but it is nice to know they are still here. M

burned bush
There were some terrible bush fires here in Jan that burned large areas in the West MacDonnells lit by arsonists and this is the result. This is the beginning of the Ormiston Pound walk. Thankfully we only had to walk though this for about 45 minutes and then it was green again.

The beginning of this walk followed the Larapinta Trail a 231km multi day iconic walking trail taking  12-18days. We will be doing bits of this as we go along.

ghost gum ormiston
Ghost gums grow high on rocky cliff tops. This one survived the fires with burned areas around it. This one’s roots find their way 70 metres below to the creek bed for their moisture.
on the trail ormiston pound
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ormiston pound selfie
Ormiston Pound from the ridge top.
ormiston pound
Ormiston pound panorama with the creek winding through and the odd fly.
decending into ormiston pound
The trail led down a gully and into the pound.
Spinifex Pigeon
Spinifex pidgeon. A pidgeon with pride!
entry to ormiston gorge
Down in the pound.
a few flies
So glad I couldn’t see this. Steve had more!
pound walk sign
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western bowerbird
Western Bowerbird were around camp at Ormiston.
Water marks from the water hole slowly drying up day by day, until these black rocks in the creek bed are exposed.
ormiston pound view 2
We climbed down in to it and walked out through the gorge.
ormiston pound look out
Ormiston Pound felt like a lost world!
waterhole ormiston creek
There were a few waterholes left along the creek. Good for wildlife but a bit grundgy for a swim. This one “belonged” to a white faced heron.
White necked Heron
Not used to people this white faced heron kept an eye on us from high above his water hole on the cliff tops.
on the trail ormiston
Steve looks like here modeling the fly net hat! The flies were diabolical here!

We exited the pound walking back through the gorge to the main water hole and camping area. Most people don’t venture too far from the camping area so we had the place to ourselves mostly.

ormiston gorge
The beautiful polished stone walls of Ormiston Gorge.
polished rock ormiston gorge
Creek bed in Ormiston Gorge
ripplestone in ormiston creek
Ripple stone from an ancient sea bed on the creek bed.
ormiston gorge quarzite
The colours of the rock were not real looking.
ghost gum and red rock
Ghost gums growing out of the rocks.
nice stone ormiston gorge
Gorgeous stones in the creekbed.
ormiston pool
The swimming waterhole at Ormiston Gorge campground is surrounded by huge river red gums and was at the end of our walk and our reward after 4 hours of walking.
rare swimming shot
This water got a bit of sun during the day so it was warmer than the last pool. It was late in the day and the sun had dipped behind the hills but I still managed to get in. Steve is always amazed! I was really smiling because the flies couldn’t get me out there and I could take off the stupid net!

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