Unfortunately the car suddenly gave out an abrupt beep and displayed the rather undiagnosable message below. On the plus side, we were only about 300km from a dealer in Alice Springs when this happened and we were heading that way anyway – so things could have been worse. However it was at the start of a long weekend, so I could only get the car checked after 4 days. I was reluctant to drive too much during this time, but Alice Springs is actually quite a nice town and there are quite a few things to do in the nearby area.
With visiting the Alice Springs Desert Park, doing a 22km circuit walk in the Simpsons Gap area, climbing up Mt Gillen and doing a bit of general maintenance and tinkering, three interesting days have gone by quite quickly. Now I am sitting in the Olive Pink Botanical Garden while the car is being serviced and hopefully will be on my way again shortly.
Feathered visitors to my blogging spot
We had visited the Desert Park in 2010, and were quite impressed so it was worth another visit. The highlight of the Park is probably the nocturnal house where you can see some of the deserts normally unseen critters. As they are watering some of the outside areas, several plants are flowering (unlike elsewhere, where the drought and recent heatwave has left most plants withering or dead), so I also hoped to spot a few birds. While there were certainly quite a few there, I never saw any new species. They do have some aviaries too, but of course I can’t count those!
The following day I did a nice full day circuit walk. Starting at Simpsons Gap about 15km west of Alice Springs, I left the car and jogged back along the road for 4km to where I had hidden my pack in the bush. From there I followed the 7.5km Woodlands track to the junction with the famous Larapinta Trial, followed this west for 2km to the waterhole at Bond Gap, then retraced my steps back to the junction. Finally I followed the Larapinta Trail back to Simpsons Gap.
The Woodland trail passes through several habitat types including river red gum flats, various acacia woodlands and mulga country. I was hoping to see some birds but in the middle of the day, there was not much to be seen. Fortunately I decided to follow a 1km detour up the dry Reedy Creek the stop to have some tea under a red gum. After a few minutes I heard a few birds calling and on investigation found a small rock depression about the size of a suburban birdbath with water in it from the recent rain. I sat for about 15 minutes watching from a distance and saw quite a few visitors including the new painted finches below (not the greatest photos, but it was a new species for me).
The entrance to Bond Gap
Driving back from Simpson’s gap in the dark I noticed the torch lights of some people making their way down Mt Gillen which gave me the idea of doing a sunset walk there the following day. It was a short but really spectacular walk of about 2 hours return. I just wish I had brought more warm clothes and my stove to make tea to keep me warm so I could have stayed up there to watch the stars come out with the lights of Alice Springs below. However it was rather windy on top so I had to leave about 20 minutes after sundown and enjoy the stars on my decent.