We were able to sleep in somewhat since breakfast wasn’t until 7 am. And, praise the Lord, when I got out of bed my knees no longer hurt! (They have never acted up again in the 6 years since this trip either. I have no idea what caused them to be so painful for those five months from Nov. 2010 to Mar. 2011 but I am very grateful whatever it was resolved itself.)
After we had eaten Gavin drove the bus over to the cultural center and we picked up Barney who was our aboriginal guide for an interpretive walk. About a mile down the road Barney led us on a short bush walk (once again we were clambering over rocks and through a creek and up steep banks). Barney explained the various plants used by his people for food, and paint, and medicines, and pointed out grinding stones and symbols carved in stone that were route information for the nomadic people . The circle symbols denoted water in the area and the markings indicated where it was to be found.
We stopped at a rock painting site where they would tell creation and dreaming stories, adding layers of paint over the years of storytelling . Painting and storytelling are deeply spiritual aspects of the aborgine culture. We returned to the cultural center where we looked at the artwork and artifacts and then were given a bookmark to dot paint, which was fun. The people were very kind and helpful, the kids were adorable, and the dogs were friendly so, all in all, it was nice start to our last day.
When we finished our art projects we went back to the campsite for lunch and then packed everything up for the drive back to Alice Springs. On the way back to Alice we hiked in to see Standley’s Chasm. It had been closed for a week due to high water and had just been re-opened. This time there was no trail at all and no little arrows pointing where to go either. We literally just kept walking and climbing forward hoping we were going the right way. We criss-crossed the creek numerous times and then suddenly, right in front of us, were two vertical cliffs several hundred feet high with a very narrow passageway between them. The fly nets were necessary again. The last stop we made was at Simpson’s Gap which was also a narrow gap between two massive rock walls with a lovely pool at the base. At 5:30 we arrived at Alice Springs, giving us just enough time for a fast walk into town for some groceries for dinner and the next day’s breakfast. A long, hot soak in the bathtub eased some very sore and weary muscles before bed. I had survived a camping trip!
The next morning at 11 am we got on a plane to Darwin at the Top End.