travel and life with lee mylne

The Outback Way, Day 5: Ghost gums, rock carvings, big trucks and succulent steaks

Trephina Gorge is a wonderful surprise. Despite several past trips to Central Australia, I’ve never been here before, and a morning walk through this lovely place was a revelation.

Our fifth day on the Outback Way was spent in and around Alice Springs, as we took time to see the sights of this interesting outback town.

About 85km outside Alice Springs, off the Ross Highway  (only the last 5km is unsealed), the Trephina Gorge walks give wonderful views of the East MacDonnell Ranges. There are several walks to choose from, starting in the sandy creek bed, which is lined with large ghost gums, their white trucks providing a contrast to the red rock walls.

Our group split in two to tackle the one-hour loop walks, one taking the Trephina Gorge Walk (a 2km loop) and the other the slightly more steep and difficult Panorama Walk (2.5km).

Before heading back to Alice Springs, we detoured to take a look at Ross River Resort, an outback homestead around 83km by sealed road from the town. Built around an 1890s homestead, the “resort” is a popular getaway spot, with a real sense of pioneering history about it, a restaurant and bar, and plenty of camping, bunkhouse and cabin accommodation.

We were intrigued by the sign above the bar – can you work out what it says? I admit I couldn’t! Have a go, and I’ll give you the answer in the comments section if no-one guesses! (Or perhaps you’ve been here too and already know?).

Another stop before the city was at Ewaninga Rock Carvings Conservation Reserve, an important men’s place in local Arrernte culture. This rocky outcrop has carvings and petroglyphs, some of which record the Rain Dreaming story. These sacred stories are not explained to those outside the cultural group, and we are asked not to take photographs of the carvings. I feel privileged as a woman to see this place, as Arrernte women are not allowed to visit here.

Another stop on the way back to Alice Springs is the Road Transport Hall of Fame, which has a large collection of vintage cars, trucks, even road trains, and pays tribute to those who opened up this remote part of Australia by camel and later by motorised vehicles of all kinds. Boys’ toys, for sure…but of interest to all!

To cap off a big day, we headed to the Overlanders Steakhouse, famed for one of its steaks and its outback decor (think crocodile skins and cow hides on the walls). It’s changed a bit since my last visit some years ago, but I was pleased to see that it’s inclusion in my Frommer’s Easy Guide to Australia is noted on the sign at the entrance!

A Glass Half Full travelled courtesy of the Outback Way Development Board.

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