|Standley Chasm, MacDonnell Ranges, Northern Territory|
Then it was our turn. Pilchard produced his senior's card.
'The track is uneven and rocky, and there's a couple of creek crossings so please take it easy and take your time,' the kiosk attendant told us. He pointed to the trail head, thus missing the venomous look Pilchard shot him.
But the clock was ticking, so
passing a few straggling Grey Nomads and ignoring the attendant's
instruction, we raced up the track like people half our age, barely
even pausing for photos of the magnificent cycad palms and other
remnant vegetation from a previous, wetter age.
|Entrance to Standley Chasm|
'Late' isn't a concept normally associated with self-guided tours of gorges or other scenic marvels, but Standley Chasm, also known as Angkerle Atwatye to the local Indigenous people, is an exception. Although spectacular at any time, the sun only enters the narrow gap between its sheer and towering walls around midday for about half an hour.
And that's when those red rock walls GLOW!
About 20 minutes too late on our only previous visit eight years ago, I took a couple of photos. On time for our June 2012 visit, the tally was closer to 200!
As we entered the chasm and in our haste to
hog the best spot bring you these photos,
we stepped around a figure in apparent collapse prone on the rocky
floor. But don't judge us – he was no out-of-condition senior in
need of resuscitation but a cameraman filming a sequence with 'Fred'
for Grey Nomad bible favourite Caravan and
Motorhome on Tour magazine! Surrounded by a feeding frenzy
of fans, Fred's strategic position at the head of the chasm made it
difficult to reach the best vantage points.
|Standley Chasm - RED Rock! Northern Territory|
But I guess that's why I was given elbows …
Privately owned and run by the Iwupataka Land Trust, Angkerle Atwatye is more commonly known as Standley Chasm, so named in honour of Ida Standley, Alice Springs' first school teacher and first non-Aboriginal woman to see this amazing place.
Now it's a popular stopping point for tourists exploring the magnificent West MacDonnell Ranges out of Alice Springs in the heart of Australia's Red Centre.
I fear at one point I crossed the cameraman's line of vision, so there MAY be a red-head in a green T-shirt manically taking photos on DVD #178. But if she looks fat, you'll know the camera equipment was defective …
|The gap between the walls - Standley Chasm, Northern Territory|
As we returned down the path, Pilchard plotting to challenge the young kiosk attendant to a race up the track, hordes of tourists continued to pour up the gorge to the chasm. The urge to tell them they'd missed the best bit was ALMOST overwhelming.
But Fred was right. No one leaves Angkerle Atwatye without a smile on their face!
If Standley Chasm, Alice Springs and Australia's awesome Red Centre appeal to you, or even if you're just in need of a fabulous vacation, why not visit dialaflight.com/flights/australia/ and make it happen?!
|Looking through Standley Chasm to the other side ... Northern Territory, Australia|
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