Saturday, August 20, 2011

Respite In The Land Of Sand & Spinifex

This week's PhotoHunt theme is drink.

The Williams Creek Pub is a famous watering hole on the Oodnadatta Track that runs from Marree to Marla. Most people who travel the 617 kilometer long dirt track call in at the mini oasis in the desert for a cool drink before they continue their journey.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Faux Summit

From the first time we visited the Western MacDonnell Ranges just outside of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory we knew we would we return to take advantage of the  223 km long well marked Larapinta hiking trail. Our goal is to eventually hike it in its entirety, but up to this point we have been happy exploring sections of the legendary trail.
Our most recent visit was just over a year ago. We had scheduled a few days in Alice Springs as we traveled from Darwin to Adelaide. It was the beginning of winter. The frosty winds had arrived to the sunburned country, and with most nights dropping to below freezing we didn't expect too much competition for camping spots. Of course we had once again underestimated the hearty Australians and some of the larger campgrounds, especially those with amenities, were busy. Fortunately, there are some smaller sites, only reachable by 4wd, so we were able to find the solitude we were looking for. 

For 2 days we had explored a few of the gaps, gorges and waterholes of the area, and we were ready to tackle the Northern Territory's 4th highest mountain, Mt. Sonder. At a modest 1380 meters above sea level we knew the climb wouldn't be much of a challenge, but still we were looking forward to the 16 kilometer trek.
With the short days of winter, we had planned to hit the trail early. As we approached the trail head at dawn, the gentle light turned the rolling hills of the surrounding area a mystical blue and purple, colors that can only be found in the outback.

The track to the trail head took us past the ridge top campground. Even though there was only one campsite set up, we decided that to be on the safe side it would be best to set up our tent and claim one of the perfect camping spots.
By the time we hit the trail head, the landscape was no longer swathed in the soft pale pastels, but was now a pallet of  vibrant reds, oranges, greens and whites.
Under the brilliant blue sky, we walked along a dry sandy creek bed that was lined by giant red river gums. As we followed the white sandy track, it wasn't long before we arrived at the base of the towering red rocky cliffs, and we began our ascent. The trail zigzagged it's way up the hill, and within half an hour we had arrived at a saddle on the mountain's spine. For the next hour and a half we walked eastward along a rocky, gentle sloping ridge. We arrived at our final destination that was marked by a cairn, and were rewarded with sweeping views in all directions. As we sat down to eat our lunch and enjoy the view, we had no idea that we had not really conquered Mt. Sonders. Even though a plaque pronounced the area we sat on as Mt. Sonders, the real peak stood a mere 750 meters away. We didn't learn this until after the fact. But even though we only  sat at 1360 meters, the views were still spectacular.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Oldies But Goodies

This week's PhotoHunt theme is one.

If you are wondering how this picture represents one, your have to go beyond counting the thrombolites, and look at the cell structure of these pre-historic living rocks. Scientist believe that the one celled organism is the earliest form of life on earth, and they date back about 3500 million years.  These relics are mostly extinct and exist only as fossils, but living examples can still be found growing a handful of places in the world. These oldies were photographed at Lake Clifton, 100km south of Perth.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

On The Road Again

Everyday millions of people commute to work. Fortunately, as a housewife, this is one of those things I don't have to face. However, life hasn't always been so simple. Back in the late 70's, life in the Berry household wasn't sedentary. In a two year time frame we had moved  interstate (Indiana to New Mexico), intra-state (Las Cruces to Albuquerque), and inter-city (Near Northeast Heights to Spruce Park). By the time we hit the third move I decided I had had enough change and I was not about to switch schools mid-year. I'm not sure how the decision was made-probably lots of tears and hiding under the bed--but somehow I got my parents to agree that I could use public transportation between our new abode and my beloved mid-school halfway across town.
So with a mere 11 years under my belt, I joined the commuting forces.  It wasn't a simple journey and it involved a short walk, a 20 minute bus ride, a march across a deserted field, and a squeeze through a gap in the fence. For 7 long months, 5 days a week, I braved the elements. I didn't let anything, not even a flasher, stand between me and my beloved school. The bus ride was probably the highlight of my trip. It was a safe place where under, the watchful eye of the driver, I learned to have unconditional positive regard towards others.  Unfortunately, the school year eventually came to an end and my parents insisted that I transfer to the local school--a school that in reality was a much better place. However, that year of commuting taught me lessons that could never been learned in books and it was a very important part of my education.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Natural Canvas

This week's PhotoHunter theme is painted.

This colorful hill is located in South Australia's Painted Desert. Located north-east of Coober Pedy the multi-hued landscape is the result of the millions of years of weathering and erosion.