The first time I visited my relatives in the Netherlands, I was puzzled when my uncle asked me how I could bear to live in Australia. “It is all desert”, he said. I tried to explain Australia is vast with many types of landscapes, including snowfields larger than those of Western Europe. He remained sceptical.
About six years ago, I was privileged to be invited to a friend’s family gathering in Pennsylvania in the US. I was looked upon as a curiosity and there were a few tentative questions about Australia. Most had no idea that Australia is about the same size as US (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). The dominant knowledge of Australia is that it contained many dangerous snakes and spiders, and kangaroos were animals to be feared 😳.
It intrigues me that many people in the world have no idea about the true nature of Australia … but then, truth to tell, unless I’ve visited a place, I also don’t know what the place is REALLY like. Even when I visit various places around Australia, I need to re-orient what I know of Australia.
Such was the case on my recent visit to central Australia’s mountain ranges – the MacDonell Ranges. These are a 644 km (400 mi) long series of mountains in central Australia (highest at 1,531 metres (5,023ft)). They are basically a series of east-west parallel ridges near the town of Alice Springs. As with so much of Australia’s geography, there is no sameness in the landscape – no mere up and down from one hill to the next. The area is a patchwork of spectacular gorges, rock formations, flora and scenes. It is no wonder that the traditional Aboriginal custodians of the land, the Arrernte hold much of this landscape a very special place.
A few weeks ago, I walked through a part of this landscape on a special trail (The Larapinta). There is no way I can do justice to the experience, but I’ve put together some words and photos and if you want to walk some of the journey with me, click on the accompanying photo (or here) and enjoy the read.
Sunrise on the Pound Walk - Larapinta Trail