Our camp for the next two nights was on a ridgetop near Redbank Gorge. This lies near the western edge of the MacDonnell Ranges at the foot of Mt Sonder and Redbank Gorge which are both well worth the effort to explore.
Redbank Gorge cuts through the mountain range as a narrow chasm of similar dimensions to the slot canyons in the blue mountains, but without any greenery and with quartzite walls instead of sandstone. The gorge has several pools with very cold water and although there were some hardy folk swimming up the gorge we opted for the comfort of wetsuits and an air mattress
There were a few floating toys left lying around by previous visitors and Maddy initially tried to use these but it turned out later that it was easier for the two of us to share our air mattress.
From left to right: looking back out from the end of the second pool; exiting the third pool.
Continuing up the long narrow 4th pool.
After exploring the gorge we returned to our campsite about 2km from the gorge where we realised that we had selected exactly the same spot that we had chosen on our visit here 9 years ago. Only this time we had a bit more comfort. On the last trip we used a bug dome tent and slept on air mattresses on top of the table on the left and our shower was a simple bag hanging from the tree that can be seen behind the caravan.
Camping rugged in 2010. Note the solar shower hanging from the same tree
The following morning we set out early to climb Mt Sonder which is a 16km round trip walk with a height gain of about 600m. Mt Sonder is the 4th highest mountain in the MacDonnell Ranges, but is the highest that can be reached as an easy day trip. The 3 highest peaks, while not needing any crampons of ice axes, require either 2 to 3 day walks or in the case of the highest peak – Mt Zeil, special permission to go there.
After many months, finally a proper termite mound that caught Maddy’s attention. It had interesting brown spikes on the red base.