Saturday 20 July – written in Halls Creek 21 July
The Djaru people call the crater Kandimalal. They knew of its existence long before this aerial photograph was taken in 1947 from Vacuum Oil Company’s survey plane and reproduced in The Horsham Times on 3 August 1948.
John Goldsmith is a radio astronomer and talented photographer of night skies. In June 2011, he wrote this post on the wonderfully rich Australian Indigenous Astronomy blog. In it he shares the aboriginal dreaming story of the crater where two rainbow snakes formed both Wolfe and Sturt Creeks and one of the snakes emerged from the ground to form the ring of the crater.
In 1999, I recorded a story about a “star” that fell from the sky and became buried in the ground, forming the crater. According to Djaru Elder Jack Jugarie, one day, the crescent moon and the evening star passed very close to each other. The evening star became so hot that it fell to the ground, causing an enormous explosion, flash, dust cloud and noise. This frightened the people and a long time passed before they ventured near the crater to see what had happened. When they ventured to crater, it was realised that this was the site of where the evening star had fallen to the Earth. The Djaru people then named the place “Kandimalal”…
Over 60 years after the first aerial photos, satellite imagery (via Google Maps) creates art of a majestic kind that can’t be replicated down here on the ground.
We camped at the reserve’s camp site mid-afternoon and took a short walk up to the crater site. The road in off the Tanami Track is currently competing for most challenging drive in terms of the corrugations and time taken to drive the 20 kilometres in.
Here are a few late afternoon snaps as the near full moon rose.
In case any of you were wondering, we’ve had news about the cable part. It’s here in Alice and, all things being equal, we will be vacating tent living tomorrow after another effort to unpack and repack before the big desert trek begins on Thursday.
Thus, Wednesday will be a day of packing, stocking up on food and for me, coming to terms with the prospect of no internet communication for at least a week. I may have to revert to pen and paper!
So, three days across the desert, much of which will be spent convincing some in our party that camping at Wolfe Creek Crater near the end of that route will not invoke scenes of horror.
Once we hit Halls Creek, we will officially be in the Kimberley. It’s been three weeks out and already I’m homesick. Too soon?
In other news, there is a Rugby League match on tomorrow evening. I am outnumbered in terms of my origin. Wish me well.
There is much of the Old Ghan’s history collected along its now defunct train line. Here in Alice Springs, a museum is set up at the old Stuart railway siding.
The National Museum of Transport with its truckies’ Hall of Fame has some interesting interiors.
As I am not one of these (and hence did not buy the T-shirt), I amused myself with the camera again.
It’s a long day trip out to Chambers Pillar from Alice Springs and definitely worth the effort.
Mr Chambers (after whom the Pillar was named) funded John McDouall Stuart’s exploration so Mr Stuart could do nothing less than name this giant clay, sandstone and silt formation after him.
On the way out to the pillar is Ewaninga Rock Art Reserve. It is a pretty special place, with a large clay pan water source and amazing 360 degree views of the landscape.
Yesterday it was time for some sightseeing in and around Alice. Starting in the town centre with the Sunday morning markets and a good cup of coffee, the bougainvillea led your eyes skywards.
These rock wallabies were sunning themselves, surprisingly on the rocks, above the dry creek bed leading into Simpsons Gap.
Further west in the Macdonnell Ranges is Standley Chasm. Look up!