By Jen Noble
The first cool weekend in a long time, made the planning of this weekend trip even more exciting. With a forecast overnight temp of 9’, and a daytime high of 27’, some tranquil sleeping and easy bush walking was promised.
Three vehicles met at Flynn’s Grave at 1300hr on Saturday. There was Jane and Ken with their lovely camper trailer (the Happy Little Vegemites), Graeme and Diane in their adventurous Subaru, and myself. As a first time trip leader this seemed like a good number of vehicles to me. Leo came out to see us off. Paul was coming later, after his netball game !!
We had a bright, sunny, and uneventful drive out west along the highway to the turn off into the Finke Gorge National Park. The track had been graded only a few days before, which was nice of them to do for our weekend. There was still some soft bits of sand, but the going was relatively easy, I did not even go into low 4. I just love that drive, the formation of the hills is just spectacular and the drive through such a large, sandy ancient river is awesome.
Right at the end, just as we were coming out of the river, Jane asked Ken to jump out of their vehicle and take a photo of her doing a water crossing. I hope the 30cm of water didn’t splash you Ken J.
Onto the campground, where there was already a number of campers set up, but plenty of room for our group and more. It is a great set up with nice and shady individual camp spots around a large communal area, where there is a brick toilet (and showers with very hot water) block, gas BBQs under cover, picnic tables and fire pits.
I set up my little camp in no time and waited for the others to set up theirs. Then we drove to the carpark to tackle the first of the walks. Graeme, Diane and myself went on the Mpaara Walk. A gorgeous 5km trek through some amazing sandstone country, this took us up a ravine to a lookout. Jane and Ken decided on the Kalaranga lookout, which is spectacular. It was great to see the landscape looking very healthy with beautiful big spinifex everywhere.
By the time Graeme, Diane and myself arrived back at the campground, Jane and Ken had been back for some time and were just about to enjoy their roast chicken. Lisa and Kent, the rangers had already called past, so I had missed seeing them. Paul and his family had arrived, and were just preparing to eat their butter chicken (luckily it was cooking in their magic cooker, as there was some mention of forgotten fuel for the cooker?)
As promised it was a lovely breezy and cool night, Graeme and Diane even lit one of the fire pits. The only thing which put a spoiler on my day was a dodgy cheese kabana eaten on the drive out, causing me to rush to the toilet on the return from the walk and twice again during the night.
The next morning after breakfast, we all packed up camp, with Jane and Paul leaving their trailers in the campground to pick up later. Graeme was concerned about the height clearance of his vehicle, so he and Diane squeezed into my car for the trip into Palm Valley.
This is another special drive; through the valley with its huge walls of sandstone and amazing plants, and small patches of water on the rocky ground.
We all decided to do the short Arankaiat walk and headed off. This walk never fails to amaze with the outstanding sandstone landscape and vegetation, to the amazing vistas over the valley and surrounds. Mpulungkinya Walk, you will be there next time.
A short drive back to pick up the trailers and it was homeward bound, easy cruise home, in plenty of time for that Sunday roast :)