Ellery Creek Waterhole
[Join us, the TK-Team, in the holiday up North, we were able to and had to have…]
Rest after mission accomplished
My husband Anthony had a mission. That mission was to buy jocks and socks. He’d been threatening this venture in the days before we embarked on our mini trek to Central Australia. As if there weren’t enough obstacles to overcome to get to Alice Springs. Covid escapees and the lockdowns that ensue when that sneaky little virus escapes the confines of medi-hotels or the eastern states at this present time in Australia.
But, with South Australia free from new locally acquired cases of Covid and the Northern Territory happy to receive us, we took our chance. Not that it wasn’t like Paris post September the 11th at Adelaide Airport when we departed. The federal police paced the concourse of the airport while armed to the teeth and touting semi-automatic rifles. Or when we successfully arrived at Alice Springs airport, we were greeted with what I’d describe as “Checkpoint Charlie” where the disembarking passengers had to line up, and then show “Passports of Declaration” that they had not been to any hotspots in the last 28 days. Took an hour for all of us to get through.
Anthony recorded the aeroplane parking lot which reveals how much the world is not travelling these past eighteen months.
So, on the morning after our epic journey north by plane, and a sleepless night on a bed of what seemed to be a hard plank, we embarked on our hiking trip of the day. This time through the heart of Alice Springs in search of the Target Store. Google maps seemed to be slightly confused and sent us marching in the opposite direction. I recalled seeing a Target sign. But where?
The township was packed with all sorts: tourists, beggars, shoppers, the sober, and not so sober. Not a mask in sight.
Finally, after twenty minutes of searching, we found the Target Store and Anthony found his socks and jocks to buy.
Mission accomplished, we headed for the Araluen Cultural Centre and to Yaye’s Café, where we were to meet an old friend who I knew from church back in the 1970’s but who has lived in Central Australia now for many years.
Over Argentinian pies, we swapped books and stories all things Hermannsburg, Missions and Central Australia.
After lunch, Anthony and I journeyed out to Ellery Creek Big Waterhole. In all the previous visits to the MacDonnell Ranges, this waterhole was one which we would visit, briefly, to tick off on our to-do list.
1977, the T-Team with Mr. B assembled in front of the hole. Tick. Then onto the more spectacular Ormiston Gorge.
1981, bypassed. For the more intriguing Ormiston.
2013, a brief visit as it was heading towards sunset and we must get back to Hermannsburg before dark and potential car-carnage by animal.
This time, 2021, we would give Ellery Creek a good hour or two to absorb the beauty and atmosphere of the place.
Problem was, we seemed to be driving, driving, driving on Namatjira Drive. Kilometres and kilometres. Noticed a sign that stated that Glen Helen, where we had camped in 2013, was closed.
90 km from Alice Springs and finally, the sign to Ellery Creek, Big Hole loomed large to our left. We turned right onto the graded but dirt track. As Anthony drove slowly over the corrugations, he remarked, ‘It’s been proven by the “Mythbusters” television show that driving slow over corrugations minimises damage to your car. It’s driving fast over the corrugations that causes damage.’
We parked in a near-empty carpark, and hiked the short distance to the waterhole. The cliffs glowed golden-red in the late afternoon sun. A sign by the rippled waters warned of currents and to take care if swimming.
Anthony and I decided it was enough to bask under the shaded beauty of the cliffs, and admire brilliant reflections in the pool capturing the images with our cameras. Anthony with his phone and me with my Nikon D7000.
We then settled down on the towel I had brought and enjoyed a simple afternoon tea of bananas and water.
While we basked in the stillness of the waterhole, the birds emerged: budgies, ducks, a kingfisher, and finches. Then some of the not-so-native wildlife appeared.
A man with a flynet over his head.
‘But there’s hardly any flies,’ Anthony said.
Another man disrobed to his bathers and dipped into the water. He soon scrambled out. ‘Too cold,’ he cried.
As the cliffs of the Big Hole deepened in hues of red, we made our way back to the car.
‘Must get back to Alice Springs before dark,’ Anthony said.
So, in the golden light of late afternoon, we returned to Alice Springs where, at the IGA near the caravan park, we bought lamb chops for dinner. The kangaroo tails offered were tempting, but…
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021
Feature Photo: Greetings from Ellery Creek Big Hole © L.M. Kling 2021