**Please note that WordPress removed the option to open a photo in a new window. If you open a photo you will have to hit the back button to get back to the blog post.**
I get picked up at 7:48am by Clive with Alice Wanderer. This is his first tour with Alice though he’s been in the business over 20 years. The bus is the mid sized mini bus that seats 20 people. We have 12 people on The West MacDonnell’s tour today. Our first stop is just outside Alice Springs at John Flynn’s grave. John Flynn created the Royal Flying Doctors. An aeromedical health service for those who live, work or travel to outback or regional Australia. The hill was too steep and loosely pack gravel I did not get off the bus. Clive gave me a short history then went up to the grave and gave a longer history to the rest of the group by the grave. We start heading to the West MacDonnell’s range that were named for the former Governer of South Australia. The first stop is Standley Chasm. No where close to being accessible. Very difficult gravel to wheel though in the parking lot. Can’t make it to the trail to hike to Standley Chasm because of how rugged it is. I’m regretting this tour at this point because I don’t know what the rest of the day holds.
The group returns from the hike after about 40 minutes and we have morning tea and coffee. I ask Clive how the rest of the tour is and what I will be able to do/see. He is unsure what I will be able to do/see. He says “most of the places were are going to visit throughout the day have paved paths or gravel and some hills.” After about a 1 hour drive we arrive at the Ochre Pits. The Ochre Pits where used by Aboriginal people for ochre pigments for medical purposes and painting. It has paved walkway with only one slight hill down to the observation deck. Most of the group goes down to the pits but I can’t make it down the steps or have any chance of wheeling through the terrain to get a closer look.
The flies are getting bad again and I put on the Desert Blend fly repellent. Time for lunch at Glen Helen Resort. The parking lot is gravel and difficult to wheel through. There is a ramp to the front entrance but is a little steep. We sit on the back patio over looking the Finke River, the oldest river in the world. There is a walk way to the river and to the gorge but it is down several steps and difficult terrain to wheel through.
After lunch we visit Ormiston Gorge. It is paved with a slight grade but it a little bumpy to wheel over. There is an accessible bathroom by the parking lot. I have to bring out the head net again while at Ormiston Gorge.
We have about a 1hr 20min drive to our last stop, Simpsons Gap. Head net on, we make our way down to Simpsons Gap. This area used to be an old cattle station. Clive says the flies are so bad because of all the cattle stations around. I can only make it about 75 yards on the way to Simpsons Gap. It is packed red clay with some rocks to wheel around and a couple of slight grades. The last 50 yards are down steps then through sand and I am not able to make it all the way into Simpsons Gap.
It’s only about a 25 minute ride back to Alice Springs and I’m dropped off at my hotel about 5:15pm. I get laundry started since I’m off to Perth tomorrow and have a drink at the bar while working on writing and my budget. I am 48% under budget through Alice Springs. I have dinner at the Ibis Bar and meet John and Mark who are working in the area. I tell them about my travels and website and they seem to be very interested. John is from Perth and will be in town when I’m there. He offers to take me around Perth on Wednesday or Thursday and have lunch.
I would not recommend the West MacDonnell’s tour for someone in a wheelchair. Several parts of the tour I was not able to do. Clive was good but I’ve had some excellent guides and the bar was set very high.