Another early morning - we were awakened at 5. Last night, Marty
warned us that the campground's generators were shut down at 11 pm and
weren't turned on until 5:30. Luckily, the bathrooms were lit when
we got there. Breakfast was the same as before: cereal and fruit.
Yesterday I tried putting Vegemite on my bread. This time, I abstained
- I remember how salty and medicinal it tasted, and I wonder how it ever
We boarded the bus and rushed out to Kings Canyon. Marty took
us on the reverse of the main trail. If we went on it forwards, we
would have to hike up Cardiac Hill (guess why it's named this!) and we'd
have the sun in our eyes. [Marty had confided in us that, for obnoxious
tourists, he takes them up this way.] We made our way up a gentle
slope until we were at Lookout Point. We weren't at the canyon yet,
but we were among low foothills. The sun was above the horizon and
only the tops of the foothills were lit. The rock was layered but
worn at the edges. Marty broke apart a pebble and showed that the
interior was white - only the outer layer was red due to oxidation.
A short hike later, we were at the top of the canyon. Along the
way, we spotted two wild kangaroos hiding in the shadow of a foothill.
They watched us as we watched them. Growing tired of this, they hopped
out into the sun and crossed the path. The rock-strewn terrain was
difficult for us to cross, yet the kangaroos hopped through it quickly
We walked along the canyon top until the span dwindled to a few meters
across. As we descended a wooden staircase, we noticed many tropical
plants and a small pool of water. This was called the Garden of Eden.
During the summer, the vegetation was thicker, and people would go swimming
here. Also, a scene from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome was shot
On our way out of the canyon, we encountered other red faced tourists
as they made their way up Cardiac Hill. [Guess they were being punished!]
Marty pointed out several things along the way:
Back at camp, Daria and I quickly cleaned out our tent and prepared lunch
so that we'd have time for a helicopter ride. A pilot, Jonno, drove
up in a jeep. He took us to the helicopter pad, where a second pilot,
Steve, was waiting. We chose a tour that took us to some unexplored areas
in Aboriginal land beyond the George Gill Range. To make the trip
even more exciting, I requested that the helicopter doors be removed.
Once Jonno gave us the safety information, we climbed on board. We
put on headsets for communication and for muffling the sound of the motor.
Then the pilot started the helicopter.
We rose up slowly, turned around and sped towards the Gill Range.
Visibility was to the horizon, and the sky was clear. High up, the
winds were cold, but not having doors allowed for better views. We
saw caves and the occasional oasis hidden among the cliff sides.
We flew along Nineteen Mile River and spotted wild horses. The pilot
pointed out a small mesa and confessed that they touched down there one
time when they were bored; the mesa was so small that the helicopter runners
were sitting over the edge. We flew over an aborigine camp that was
used three months out of the year;
it featured modern buildings and roads.
The helicopter returned to the landing site, where Marty was waiting with
the rest of the tour group.
We drove back to Alice Springs, stopping at the Mt. Ebenezer Roadhouse
again and the camel farm. We walked over to the kangaroo pen at the
camel farm, which had two mother kangaroos. One mother had its small
baby in the pouch with its head sticking out, and the other mother's child
(or joey) was walking on its own - it stuck its head in the pouch in order
to nuurse. We learned from the woman from Sweden that the mother
has two sets of nipples: a smaller one for a baby and a larger, more accessible
one for a joey.
Back at the Desert Palms Resort, we said goodbye to Marty, who gave us some advice. He recommended travelling in a taxi at night because many tourists are attacked by drunken Aboriginees. Because of this and because we were tired, we stayed in our hotel room, ordered pizza and drank Victorian Bitter beer.
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