This weekend (the last NT long weekend until Christmas) we did some off-track walking in the south-east Waterhouse Ranges. The Waterhouse Ranges are only 50km from Alice Springs, located on Owen Springs Reserve. We climbed a pinnacle and ate camel stew made from one of Watarrka’s former feral residents.
Owen Springs holds a special place in our hearts. It was Gadget’s first official posting as a Senior Park Ranger and is also the place where our relationship began. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know we camp and bushwalk on Owen Springs fairly regularly. It’s a large Reserve (158,000ha), so there’s lots of it to explore.
We’ve done several off-the-track walks in the Waterhouse Ranges this year. As we’re running out of bushwalking weather -mid-September marks the end of the comfortable bushwalking season in Central Australia- we’re keen to get as many in as we can before it’s too hot. We had been debating what to do this weekend, and left to me alone, I would’ve concocted something remote and difficult- but Gadget was tired and wanted something easy. So Owen Springs it was.
We left home on Saturday afternoon and headed out to Southern Cross Bore, an abandoned bore and yards which sits at the terminus of three deep gullies in the Range. Gadget and I have been exploring here before: there’s plenty of petroglyphs, hand stencils and other rock art to be found in these gullies.
We set up camp and then climbed up into an overhang in one of the gullies just above our campsite to watch the shadows lengthen, vodkas in hand. We pondered where we would walk the following day. We were surprised to discovered that from a distance of several hundred metres, the remote control central locking on my Prado worked. This amused us for a few minutes, and then … Gary returned to making bad puns (!!).
As night fell, we made camel stew. That’s right. Camel stew. Our freezer is packed full of frozen camel at the moment, thanks to Chris from Watarrka, who slaughtered a beast and cut it up into all manner of tasty cuts for us. We haven’t bought meat from the supermarket for nearly a month. Eat more camel, I say.
The next morning, we set off up the nearest gully and proceeded to walk about 5km across the top of the range, heading for a series of dramatic pinnacles. The pinnacles were about 3km due east of where we had camped. Of course, that doesn’t mean we only walked 3km. Given we had quite a few ups and downs, a few brainteaser gullies and sheer drops to navigate, it was a lot more like 5 or 6km as we picked out our way across the top of the Range and then back down to the pinnacles.
I was test-driving a new set of Sea-to-Summit gaiters. For walking off-the-track in Central Australia, gaiters are a must. They save you from getting all manner of nasty Three-Cornered Jacks (burrs) and Spinifex in your socks. And the new gaiters? They performed well, but they’re a bit technical to put on. I’m still perplexed as to what you are supposed to do with the little black laces. The elastic booty (tradesman-type) gaiters work just as well.
An hour later, we’d reached the outcrop of pinnacles.
Deciding we couldn’t climb the most spectacular of these, we climbed the one directly to its left, and took some spectacular shots. This is looking west along the Waterhouse Range.
A glamour shot of me:
And Gadget on top:
Stay tuned for Mt Giles: Our Next Adventure!