After Hermansburg we headed back west to loop around through the West MacDonnell Ranges. We stayed at Redbank Gorge camping area for a couple of days, checking out Redbank Gorge on one day and climbing Mt Sonder on the other. Then a day trip to Ormiston Gorge before driving past Ellery Creek Big Hole where we camped at a few years ago and finally a couple of days in Alice Springs.
The truck museum in Alice Springs was interesting. It’s massive. So many trucks, so much reading material. Anyone with a thing for trucks could spend days going through it.
We filled in most of the gaps that we missed the first time we came through the Uluru / Alice Springs area although would have liked to do the east side of Alice and down to Chambers Pillar. But with the desert country getting cold and the Kimberley waterholes nicely filled and flowing fresh from a good wet season, it was prudent we head up the Tanami Track to the warmer areas.
It’s time to get back to work after spending up big in USA. Joe got a job in Perth so we’re on our way back. It’s a short term role for a few months in Perth CBD and the plan is to rent an apartment in the city. We thought the Hilux may not fit in an apartment carpark and a small car is better for a city runabout anyways. The market for small cars is way better in Brisbane, plus we wanted to take our bikes and thermomix across so instead of flying we bought ourselves a little Suzuki Baleno in Brisbane. It cost less than the thermomix it’s transporting and did a great job driving across the Nullarbor on the hottest February day on record! We made it across in about 3 days, driving for 18 hours a day and sleeping in a tent on the side of the road.
Before we left, Sharni flew back to Perth for a weekend for an engagement party and then another friend Ellen came to visit us back in Brisbane. Sharni and Ellen had some girly time together down at Gold Coast. Also we snuck in a quick walk up Mount Ngungun in the Glass House Mountains on our way to dinner with Ellen’s family nearby.
Yosemite National Park, made famous by Yosemite Sam, is yet another great natural attraction in USA. Spectacular scenery and some great hiking is on offer. Dam cold though! We packed our cold weather gear deep into the bowels of the van once we entered sunny California, thinking we’d not need them for the rest of the trip. We were wrong. It was well below zero at the elevations around Yosemite.
The carpark at the main visitor centre is massive. Took us 15 minutes to walk from the car to the visitor centre, slipping and sliding over the icy ground. Yosemite is one of the most visited parks in USA and there’s plenty of shops, resorts and varied accommodation options. We drove around checking out the main central attractions and then camped in the van, enduring a pretty cold night. Next morning we got up early and did a big several hour hike up to Vernal Falls and back. It was one of the most roughest, toughest, root’nest, toot’nest hikes we’ve ever done. Then we hit the road back towards the California coast.
Mt Ragged in Cape Arid National Park is a 585 meter high mountain roughly 40km from the coast. In preparation of the climb Joe crafted me a hiking stick out of a tree branch using a machete, a large bush knife and a small folding knife. Check out the before and after shots. It also kept him occupied for a day while I watched the entire season of Day Break.
The climb was a tough steep ascent with the track overgrown in parts with thorny scrub. Towards the top we had to hoist ourselves up decent sized rock faces and imagine it wouldn’t be much fun for people who were scared of heights. After lots of whinging on my behalf we made it to the top where we had full mobile phone reception. We used the opportunity to call home. Joe rang his Mum and I had a video chat with my Dad using skype while showing him the amazing views. There was also a wooden box at the top with notebooks full of messages of people who has made it to the top. The way down was as adventurous as the way up with a few bum-slides down some rocks. It was a satisfying climb with a few challenges and a great view from the top.
Finally arriving at Mt Ragged in Cape Arid National Park after our epic effort to get there from Israelite Bay we set up camp for three nights at the rarely used Mt Ragged campsite. The campsite had a large fire pit and clean long drop toilet. We were there alone and did not see another soul for our three days camped there and on the entire track from Israelite Bay to Balladonia Road. We took advantage of the fire pit and roasted a rack of pork with potatoes in the camp oven, yummy! We also had our first shower in 9 days using the solar shower bag and Joe washed my hair using the weed sprayer water dispenser, almost as good as a salon wash. The second day we dedicated to climbing Mt Ragged.
Yesterday we each invested in our very first pair of real hiking boots. It was a difficult choice and after trying on 20+ pairs across several stores I settled on a pair of Teva hiking boots and Joe a pair of Kathmandu boots both with vibram soles.