Tuesday, 3 July 2012

West McDonnell Ranges - Serpentine Gap

We awoke again to a morning with frost. Today we drove back to the West McDonnell Ranges to see more of it's sites. 

The first stop was the Ochre Pits.

Ochre mixed with fat or grease is used to heal various ailments. It is applied directly to the affected area. Ochre and eucalyptus leaves are rolled together and used as medication for head and chest colds. Red ochre is mixed with fat and rubbed into aching muscles. When preparing medicine it is important to sing over it to enhance it's healing powers, a custom known as Wulya in Western Arrernte. 

In body painting white and yellow Ochre is used mainly as decoration. Mixed with water or animal fat such as goanna, possum or emu it is mixed into a paste and smeared on the body with a finger or feather. Ash and charcoal and also often used.

Our next stop was Serpentine Gorge.

The western Arrernte people tell a story about a Wedged Tailed Eagle patrolling the cliffs between Serpentine Gorge and the ochre pits during the time of creation the dreamtime. The ancestral bird now rests in the hills above Serpentine Gorge where it continues to survive it's domain.

Serpentine Gorge was named because of the snake like course the creek has cut through the ranges. Serpentine Gorge is the home of a large and fierce water serpent. People only went there if they were desperate. Anyone wishing to drink from the waterhole had to observe the correct procedure. All weapons were left behind and certain songs were sung to calm the water serpent. Once this had been done it was possible to drink without fear of being killed. Swimming however was never permitted.

Of course we started with the lookout.

We then went to Ellery Creek Big Hole. Ellery Creek Big Hole is one of the largest permanent waterholes in the West McDonnell Ranges 

We then headed for home with the moon rising with the setting sun, it was so bright and beautiful against the sunset colours.

For dinner we found this amazing little Vietnamese Restaurant miles away from town in the middle of nowhere but with the most wonderful food. Here we are having our first ever Vietnamese Vegetable Steam Boat which you cook yourself. The flavours were glorious.

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