Day 24. Monday 21 August.

The night had been hot and a howling wind had blown till dawn. T got up early to stretch and catch the morning light in the gorge.

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Really, she was looking for petroglyphs but ended up with just footprints of ‘moonboot and crutch’ (Judy, not Trish). A plus were the ‘tide markings’ within the gorge.

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The usual slow pack-up and a chat with neighbours who are from Townsville, then with lowered tyres, we were on the track again. The aim was to check out the 1880s’ mining site at Arltunga (another 50 kms of corrugation). A few sand drifts and a water crossing later we were on a dreadfully corrungated road heading northwards.

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Arltunga had been a bit of late 19th century colonial madness, trying to get gold in an environment with no water. The SA Govt, at that stage controlling this area, was desparate to have some development in Central Australia that matched the gold rushes in WA and Victoria. Such schemes doomed to failure might well be a parallel with the present? However, the preserved ruins and accompanying video are a testament to the endurance and grit of early pioneers. Arltunga is recognized as the first European settlement in Central Australia and a venture that opened the region to pastoral and other pursuits. The small cemetery further reflected the incongruity: 5 unmarked bush graves and one much grander.

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There was no escaping more rough driving…so decision taken to keep it as short as possible: yes, backtrack the 50kms and make camp in Trephina Gorge.

An evening walk in the Gorge to enjoy the sunset – a pattern is emerging! Again, the light on the red cliffs, the stark and beautiful ghost gums, and the pool of water reflecting the gorge all added to the magic – again.

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