"A dingos got my cup" was the cry from Ringo at about 2am. After chasing the aforementioned thief for a bit, Ringo thought the better of it and returned to arm himself with a spade. He managed to get his cup back and we were all able to return to sleep. Packing up in the morning, we did a quick stocktake to make sure nothing else had been pilfered.
Our first stop was at Gosse Bluff.
This massive impact crater was formed by a a comet approximately 142 million years ago. Interestingly the star nerds say that there are over 1000 meteors greater than the one that created Gosse Bluff currently crossing Earth's orbit. Would make a big mess if one arrived in a city anytime soon. It is amazing the stuff that is out here that nobody has ever heard of.
The traditional owners have their own explanation regarding how the crater was formed, involving a baby falling from the milky way. For cultural reasons there are only certain areas you are allowed to visit so we explored as far as we could and didn't take any rocks with us.
Back on the gravel again we headed towards Kings Canyon on the Mereenie Loop Road. This road was in generally good condition with a few rocky, corrugated sections but nothing Hillary and Patrolie couldn't handle.
We arrived at Kings Canyon Resort in the early afternoon, took out a bank loan to check into the caravan park and set up camp.
We headed into Watarrka National Park and made our way up into the Canyon via the Kings Creek Walk.
We were able to successfully negotiate this easy walk in our non-sensible shoes without sensible hats and gallons of water.
Ronny had her plant and bird identification sheets in hand and we were able to successfully work out the difference between a Coolabah Tree and a River Red Gum - it is all in the nuts.
That night our night was interrupted by strong winds and unfortunately we didn't get much sleep.
The next morning, feeling less than energetic we set out on the Kings Canyon Rim Walk. The first part of the walk takes you up a steep section onto the rim of the canyon. Following the track around there are lots of spots to stop and take photos and enjoy the view.
Bryce and Ringo were busy planning their base jumping expeditions from the sheer sandstone cliffs.
About half way around the rim the track descends into the Garden of Eden. This area obviously sees a bit more water as the vegetation changes and there are a number of permanent waterholes. There is a species of Cycad here that is prehistoric.
Despite our low energy the walk was well worth the effort and a must do if visiting this area.
Leaving the national park we headed south along the Red Centre Way. We took advantage of the free camp at Curtin Springs Station on the way out to Uluru. Although dusty it does provide showers for $3.00 and is well worth the stop on the long slog out to the rock. It sits in front of Mt Conner which is often wrongly guessed as Uluru on the drive west. This station is one of the biggest stations in Australia. The owner Peter was enjoying a cold beer in the bar and had lots of stories to tell about his early times on the station, the carbon tax he has to pay on dead camels on his land and all the different accreditations he is required to have now for tasks he has been performing for the past 40 years. Peter was the guy who originally put the chains up Ayres Rock in the 1960's. I guess he has seen quite a few changes in his time.
After an awesome hot shower we retired to the tent, and thankfully the wind had subsideed.
To the rock tomorrow!