Left Glen Helen (Tues 21st) at about 7.45, temperature 2 °C, by 8.00 it was 7 °C and by 8.15 13 °C, the sun has a big impact, so glad to have power and a heater. On the way in I visited Standley Chasm (Angkerle), the walk in is wonderful along a spring fed creek that you can hear running. Beautiful Gums, Cycads and other plants.
The Cycads include some up to 1000 years old. They develop pollen every few years and the male plant exude a smell that attracts a small thrip about 1 mm long to the flowers. The female plant then exudes a stronger smell and the trips fly there and pollinate the female flowers.
The chasm is an amazing sight, not so dramatic as at midday when the sun shines in for an hour or so. Upheavals created cracks in the hard rock and a softer rock, Dolerite, was forced into the gap. Water over the years has eroded the softer rock creating the Chasm.
At the carpark I was approached by a fellow traveller who advised me that the caravan brakes were making a bad noise. Not good so I was lucky and able to book the van into a mechanic tomorrow for a check. Lots of places were booked out but this place squeezed me in, I must have sounded desperate. Tomorrow after dropping the van off I will visit places around Alice Springs. I did shopping today and had to wait until 2.00 pm before the grog shops opened and you have to wait until 6.00 pm to buy port. No casks at all and every grog shop has 3 cops at the door!
Dropped the van off and headed for the Alice Springs Desert Park, what a great place an arid version of the Cranbourne Botanic Gardens in Melbourne. Absolutely wonderful, so well done. It started with a bird show where a number of birds that were absolutely free performed on queue. First was a magpie who swooped over our heads many times and then flew off when his time was up. Then a falcon, then a white faced heron and then a barn owl, we were asked to watch a tree stump and then the owl appeared out of it, wonderful stuff. The final performance was by a wedge tailed eagle.
All the while there was a tawny frogmouth watching from the superstructure, it was a great show that went for about 30 minutes, and was included in the entrance fee ($22)
Then I set off to walk through the park, about 3 Km of paths through different vegetation. Along the way you pass a dingo and emu enclosure.
The landscaping was extremely well done and highlighted by lots of plants in flower, the walk between exhibits was very enjoyable.
As you walked around the park you visited about 10 averies some being walk through, some being closed off with glass windows. It was fantastic so many different species of birds, wonderful to watch, difficult to photograph, I have a bit to learn with my new camera. I took about 150 photos of birds and the following are the best from those.
The photos are of a red crested robin, a beautiful little bird, and a dotterel, a type of plover. The dotterel was on a nest and the male and female swapped while I was watching and they were brooding 6 eggs.
Above are photos of a red tailed black cockatoo and a group of mulga parrots. There was also a nocturnal house which had lots of exhibits of lizards, snakes, spiders, little mammals, and insects, it was very interesting and well done. the lighting made it hard to take photos without a flash.
The snake is a Mulga snake and the mammal is a Greater Stick Nest Rat (nocturnal).
Above we have the Thorny Devil and the Central Netted Dragon. Then off to another aviary.
A classic Aussie outback bird we all love, the budgie, and an Australian Bustard. So the Desert Park was a great experience, not to be missed if you go to Alice Springs.
In the afternoon I picked up the repaired van – new back plates, new brake shoes, new magnets, new seals and $895 later and I was back in business with somewhere to sleep tonight. Good to have that out of the way. Tomorrow off to Olive Pink Gardens to check on the Acacia Peuce we planted there 30 years ago.