Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Palm Valley

We spent the last couple of days exploring the areas around Alice Springs.  Yesterday the plan was to visit Hermannsburg, an aboriginal community which originated as Central Australia's first mission, and to continue on to Palm Valley.

We arrived at Hermannsburg and drove up the main street to find the road blocked due to a funeral.  It was explained that in the past tourists had disrespected Aboriginal tradition by taking photos of the grieving during funerals, so the policy became to simply close the town.  I never imagined we would arrive at a town to find it closed!  We understood their reasoning though, and declined their suggestion to wait behind the boundary for the funeral procession to pass and the town to re-open.  We decided we'd drive the short 21 kilometers to Palm Valley and return to Hermannsburg afterward.

Although 21 kilometers sounded like a short distance it took us nearly two hours to complete the four wheel drive track over boulders, sand, through multiple water crossings, the sandy bed of a dry river, straddling crevices and climbing rocks.  Although a nail-biting experience in some areas, we were happy we and the car arrived safe and sound and that Mike was willing and able to do it all again on the way out.

Palm Valley is an oasis in the dessert.  It's the only place in Central Australia where palms grow, and is special as it's a remnant from millions of years ago when the area was a vast rain forest.  It's remarkable to travel through such an arid region to find this paradise complete with plant, fish and bird life.

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Myf said...

Love the story - and the shadow photo!

Sheryl said...

Thanks Myf, it's one of our favourites too :)