I was up early enough to watch the sunrise from the viewing platform, very cool watching the sun pop up over the ranges. I had a bit of a wander through the scrub near our tent afterwards, looking for LiAM’s swimmers – I saw lots of shoes and socks and bags and other things, but not what I was looking for.
We did a fairly relaxed pack up, and were ready to go by 11. We stopped not far down the road to do the Kathleen Springs walk which we’d heard was quite beautiful. It was sunny and hot today, and there were a lot of flies – our fly nets and/or the fly repellant we’d bought came in handy for everyone. I really enjoyed the walk, it was a paved, easy path down into Kathleen Gorge, between red gorge walls – not very tall but really that image that I have in my head of the Northern Territory. This gorge used to be used as a cattle pen and there were still signs of cattle yards and watering troughs which were interesting to see. There were also lots of signs explaining the indigenous stories from around this land which were great. We could see a bit of water flowing over rocks towards the end of the gorge, and there was a lovely shady waterhole right at the end. We sat and rested and looked at it for a while, then headed back out. LiAM found a big stick insect, we saw lots of butterflies, and one lizard – I’m so glad we saw him because I’d told LiAM I was sure we’d see lizards at Kings Canyon and there had been none. Tony didn’t enjoy the walk so much, with the heat and flies and he also ended up carrying Millie most of the way so it was a much harder walk for him.
We had some sandwiches at the car then drove a bit further to Kings Creek Station to get petrol, a lot cheaper than at Kings Canyon Resort (thanks to wiki camps for that information 192c/l as opposed to 176 I think). It was still expensive though so we just put 20L or so in. We had a bit of a look around the station, and the kids found zooper doopers for sale for $1 each so we grabbed some of those.
It was a long drive back out from Kings Canyon to the highway and then east again to the Stuart Highway. We finished listening to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, then listened to music for a while. Eventually we arrived at Erldunda where we’d planned to get some supplies – there was no bread and milk was $4 for a litre of UHT milk so we decided to do without for now. There was mobile signal though so we caught up with the messages we’d received over the past few days, and there was an emu farm and we were able to feed the emus – these pellets were bigger than the ones at Uluru so it was slightly less scary when the emus pecked them out of our hands. We also saw a couple of emus fighting – they fluffed up their neck feathers until they were huge and ran at each other – one emu didn’t want anyone else eating the pellets so chased a few of them away. We also sent some postcards while we were there.
We drove north for another 70km or so and stopped at a free camp by the side of the Finke River. This is one of the oldest rivers in the world - it's been there for between 100 million and 350 million years! We arrived just before sunset and Caitlin and I wandered down to check out the river bed – there was water flowing and it was so beautiful standing in the dry part of the river with the bridge to our west and the sun setting behind it.
As we were setting up 2 of our neighbours from Kings Canyon arrived, they had driven across the Ernest Giles track instead of coming around the sealed road (and they’d left an hour before us) so we were keen to talk to them in the morning about what the road was like.
We had ready made pasta packets for tea, and sat outside marveling at the brightness of the stars – they haven’t been so bright for a while because the moon has been so full – but at first the moon wasn’t up yet and the stars were mesmerizing. The moon rose before we went to bed, a big orange almost full disk, very very cool.