Day 23. Sunday 20 August.

Wallace Rockhole was even quieter than we’d remembered. The campground had only one other outfit: a pair of sisters in a small Wicked rented car with a canvas platform on top. It reminded us of our car camper atop our Mazda 808, 45 years ago. The girls departed fairly early and we took our time.

Being Sunday, Wallace store was not open, cultural tour to rock art not on…in fact there was no one about and nowhere to offload a shower facility fee. The occasional sound of a woman yelling at kids, a pair of boys chasing with sticks in the backyard (just like Kambah) and the lazy song of the butcherbird were the Sunday morning entertainment before the 17 kms back to Larapinta Drive and a pause to re-inflate tyres. At the intersection of the Wallace road and Larapinta Drive, a serious 4WD/off road van combo stopped and the driver asked about road conditions and sights at Wallace. We duly reported, and then her travelling companion (with pet de jour) joined the conversation. We’ve seen travellers with dogs, yesterday our caravan neighbours had a cat, today one of the travellers sported a budgerigar on her left shoulder and it seemed marginally interested in the discussions. Might well have been the brightest one involved. This meeting later led us to reflect on the number of two women travelling combos we’d come across: two just today.

With 150 kms of pristine bitumen back to Alice, T got on with re-knitting (she had unfortunately pulled out a biggish section, believing she had made an error, only to find that there had been none! and she needs bitumen as the knitting surface). The bitumen is intriguing; pristine, no roadkill, in fact the only wildlife we’ve seen since getting into NT has been birds and the occasional wandering stock or horse…no kangaroos, emus, lizards, snakes etc. Overseas tourists must wonder what OZ is about.

Back in Alice, we found a side alley café for catching up on wifi and caffeine and T spotted the folk who’d rescued us yesterday and had a chat. ‘ I guess it’s revision time for your off-road adventures’, they said. Yep.

The late afternoon saw us on the Ross Hwy, heading into East MacDonnells. Scenery marvellous again, but quieter, as the road became a single track for quite a while. There was a sense on this side of the ranges of driving along and in the range, rather than paralleling it and turning into gorges etc.

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Tonight we are at N’Dhala Gorge, having ventured down a track with just a few shallow sand patches (gulp) and a water crossing, the latter being the most concerning because we couldn’t see the bottom. D thought that T had said last night that we weren’t going to do this any more, but must have misheard. The tyre pressure will definitely be down and the blood pressure up for the return leg.

Arrived at a tiny camping spot to be greeted by Judy wearing a moon boot on her broken ankle…(she does weights daily in her huge 7 tonne van/truck ‘campervan’). Just before dusk we walked to the gorge and pondered the petroglyphs along the way. A warm evening tonight – during a mid-campground get together another fellow traveller remarked how the evenings seem to be alternating each day between warm and cold. All agreed on the scarcity of wildlife in this part of the NT.

A quick walk up the Gorge as the sun set to enjoy the view, scenery and petroglyphs.

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