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197202 [2014/03/13 10:30]
theeeyorefan Hope it's finished
197202 [2020/11/18 17:18] (current)
rogerbrowne [Journey Through the Land of Altjira – Part 1.] Spelling corrections
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 // by Dot Butler //\\ // by Dot Butler //\\
  
-Notes Central Australia is called by the Aranda folk the Land of Altjira, which means the Land of Eternity, or the Eternal Land.\\+Note: Central Australia is called by the Aranda folk the Land of Altjira, which means the Land of Eternity, or the Eternal Land.\\
  
 A fortnight’s Bushwalk in the MacDonnell Range of Central Australia, August, 1971.\\ A fortnight’s Bushwalk in the MacDonnell Range of Central Australia, August, 1971.\\
-Party Frank and Joan Rigby, Henry Gold, Gerry Sinzig, Dot Butler.\\+PartyFrank and Joan Rigby, Henry Gold, Gerry Sinzig, Dot Butler.\\
  
-At the Adelaide airport we waved goodbye to Bob and Roslyn Duncan who had come to see us off, then our plane headed north for Alice Springs, flying over 800 miles of the driest country in the world. Outstanding features we recognised were the Flinders Range (Bushwalking country of the South Australians),​ the vast salt lakes Torrens and Lyre, then the western borders of the Simpson Desert where Death first came into the world. This came about through sheer malice: a dark spell was chanted by the legendary Ntjikanta brothers, they of the snake totem, twin sons of the shell parrot. They put the curse of Death upon all mankind for over.\\+At the Adelaide airport we waved goodbye to Bob and Roslyn Duncan who had come to see us off, then our plane headed north for Alice Springs, flying over 800 miles of the driest country in the world. Outstanding features we recognised were the Flinders Range (Bushwalking country of the South Australians),​ the vast salt lakes Torrens and Eyre, then the western borders of the Simpson Desert where Death first came into the world. This came about through sheer malice: a dark spell was chanted by the legendary Ntjikanta brothers, they of the snake totem, twin sons of the shell parrot. They put the curse of Death upon all mankind for ever.\\
  
-Approaching our destination we eagerly studied the landscape below. There lay a lean hard land of worn-down rock ranges arranged in parallel lines in an interminable sea of red sand. And now in the rough stony expanse of desert we can pick out the MacDonnell Range, which is to be our goal. It contains the Heavitree Range a row of bare low hills moving from east to west across the rod desert like a string of camels tied nose to tail, and the Chewings Range, lying to the north and roughly parallel to the Heavitree. Its highest mountains rise to over 4,000 ft. and at intervals it is cut through by deep clefts. These we proposed to investigate in search of permanent water. On our right lay the incredible ​moteorite ​crater of Goss’s Bluff whore the Moon-men got their experience.\\+Approaching our destination we eagerly studied the landscape below. There lay a lean hard land of worn-down rock ranges arranged in parallel lines in an interminable sea of red sand. And now in the rough stony expanse of desert we can pick out the MacDonnell Range, which is to be our goal. It contains the Heavitree Range a row of bare low hills moving from east to west across the red desert like a string of camels tied nose to tail, and the Chewings Range, lying to the north and roughly parallel to the Heavitree. Its highest mountains rise to over 4,000 ft. and at intervals it is cut through by deep clefts. These we proposed to investigate in search of permanent water. On our right lay the incredible ​meteorite ​crater of Goss’s Bluff whore the Moon-men got their experience.\\
  
 Appropriately the plane arrived late in this land of Lots-of-Time. We did a bit of buying before the shops shut, then got a taxi to the Green leaves campground. It didn’t take long to set up camp and we were soon asleep.\\ Appropriately the plane arrived late in this land of Lots-of-Time. We did a bit of buying before the shops shut, then got a taxi to the Green leaves campground. It didn’t take long to set up camp and we were soon asleep.\\
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 The first sound I heard on waking next morning was a bird calling four slow deliberate notes like pebbles being dropped one by one into a crystal pool. Tho notes were identical with the four notes that introduce the theme song in the film “Dr. Zhivago”. It was a thrilling, haunting sound that seemed to hold within it the image of that vast timeless land – the very utterance of the remote Centre and of untamed places. I have never identified the bird, and perhaps I don’t want to.\\ The first sound I heard on waking next morning was a bird calling four slow deliberate notes like pebbles being dropped one by one into a crystal pool. Tho notes were identical with the four notes that introduce the theme song in the film “Dr. Zhivago”. It was a thrilling, haunting sound that seemed to hold within it the image of that vast timeless land – the very utterance of the remote Centre and of untamed places. I have never identified the bird, and perhaps I don’t want to.\\
  
-The two green bundles beside me on the iron-hard ground were Henry and Gerry, sleeping like babes. Judging by their peaceful expressions they could have boon cushioned on softest ​cider down instead of on 12 square ​foot of the hardest gibber country on the earth’s surface. In the little tent nearby were Frank and Joan Rigby, our leaders. You would never think little pint-sized Digby would be a match for this land’s girth you would more likely imagine our loader ​to be some 6 ft. Arthur Groom striding leagues over the desert by moonlight. But appearances can be deceptive like a little boarded Old Man of the Mountains, Digby has taken on this country, at times single-handed,​ at times with Joan and one or two others, but he has always brought his party out alive.\\+The two green bundles beside me on the iron-hard ground were Henry and Gerry, sleeping like babes. Judging by their peaceful expressions they could have been cushioned on softest ​eiderdown ​instead of on 12 square ​feet of the hardest gibber country on the earth’s surface. In the little tent nearby were Frank and Joan Rigby, our leaders. You would never think little pint-sized Digby would be a match for this land’s girthyou would more likely imagine our leader ​to be some 6 ft. Arthur Groom striding leagues over the desert by moonlight. But appearances can be deceptivelike a little boarded Old Man of the Mountains, Digby has taken on this country, at times single-handed,​ at times with Joan and one or two others, but he has always brought his party out alive.\\
  
-It is experience which makes the good leader. Bushwalking in Central Australia is not for the inexperienced. Nature there is a harsh mother no mistakes go unpunished. Do you walk carelessly down the hillsides, old man spinifex will prick your ankles painfully with his hundred spines, many of which remain embedded and, to my sorrow, had to be picked out with a blunt safety-pin as I had no other implement. Do you sit down thoughtlessly without first brushing the rod earth, you will got up hurriedly with a thousand ​bindi-eyes in the seat of your pants and the endless job of trying to pick thorn out. “It __ would __ have to be my sleeping pants,” ruefully complained our first victim, Henty. If you leave the campfire at night for a brief sojourn into the outer darkness and omit to put your shoes on for the short journey you will soon be hopping about removing vicious goats-head burrs from the solos of your feet or the inch long spines of deadly nightshade from between your toes.\\+It is experience which makes the good leader. Bushwalking in Central Australia is not for the inexperienced. Nature there is a harsh motherno mistakes go unpunished. Do you walk carelessly down the hillsides, old man spinifex will prick your ankles painfully with his hundred spines, many of which remain embedded and, to my sorrow, had to be picked out with a blunt safety-pin as I had no other implement. Do you sit down thoughtlessly without first brushing the red earth, you will get up hurriedly with a thousand bindi-eyes in the seat of your pants and the endless job of trying to pick them out. “It __would__ ​have to be my sleeping pants,” ruefully complained our first victim, Henty. If you leave the campfire at night for a brief sojourn into the outer darkness and omit to put your shoes on for the short journey you will soon be hopping about removing vicious goats-head burrs from the soles of your feet or the inch long spines of deadly nightshade from between your toes.\\
  
-The wise party is up with the dawn and makes an early getaway before the boat of the day starts the dehydration process. 2 p.m. is the hottest hour. In the early afternoon one rests, if possible, in the shade till the heat goes out of the day. We didn’t always do this… you know, “Mad dogs and Bushwalkers go out in the midday sun!”\\+The wise party is up with the dawn and makes an early getaway before the heat of the day starts the dehydration process. 2 p.m. is the hottest hour. In the early afternoon one rests, if possible, in the shade till the heat goes out of the day. We didn’t always do this… you know, “Mad dogs and Bushwalkers go out in the midday sun!”\\
  
-At the campground we had sorted and packed the food, taking half and leaving half for tho second week of the trip. Then we went by taxi to Standley Chasm. Here was the usual milling crowd of tourists photographing the rusty oxidised walls which gleam vivid red when the sun hits them around midday. Standley Chasm abuts on the Jay Creek Aboriginal Reserve. A white couple have set up the Jay Creek Progress Association. They have organised trail riding with an aboriginal ranger to accompany the horses on day excursions and they conduct a refreshment kiosk with little shy brown girls serving the food, ice-creams and drinks. There are woodcarvings and paintings for sale, also small seedling ghost-gums and river- gums which “’all ​grow anywhere”. When we left this animated scene we would be going out into the unknown this was the last we would see of people for a week.\\+At the campground we had sorted and packed the food, taking half and leaving half for the second week of the trip. Then we went by taxi to Standley Chasm. Here was the usual milling crowd of tourists photographing the rusty oxidised walls which gleam vivid red when the sun hits them around midday. Standley Chasm abuts on the Jay Creek Aboriginal Reserve. A white couple have set up the Jay Creek Progress Association. They have organised trail riding with an aboriginal ranger to accompany the horses on day excursions and they conduct a refreshment kiosk with little shy brown girls serving the food, ice-creams and drinks. There are woodcarvings and paintings for sale, also small seedling ghost-gums and river-gums which “will grow anywhere”. When we left this animated scene we would be going out into the unknownthis was the last we would see of people for a week.\\
  
-We shouldered our packs, weighed down with a week’s food plus a filled half-gallon plastic waterbottle. “Hateful lump,’’ ​said Digby, “but you must accept it as one of the unpleasant facts of life. There well might be no water whore we are going. We took the horse trail over a pass and down a zig-zag track skirting a pound wall and camped for the night when we found a permanent waterhole deep in a cleft between our gully and the pound gully.\\+We shouldered our packs, weighed down with a week’s food plus a filled half-gallon plastic waterbottle. “Hateful lump," ​said Digby, “but you must accept it as one of the unpleasant facts of life. There well might be no water whore we are going. We took the horse trail over a pass and down a zig-zag track skirting a pound wall and camped for the night when we found a permanent waterhole deep in a cleft between our gully and the pound gully.\\
  
-Next day we followed the horse trail for a while but soon left it, cutting over a low hillock to the base of Mt. Conway. The natives call this Iloata. Legend has it that Iloata, a termite ancestress, looked far across the plain with love and saw another termite ancestress. They wished to join each other but could not and their tears fell and made the watercourses. For very sadness Iloata sank to the ground and became part of Ht. Conway. The other rose into the sky and became the evening star.\\+Next day we followed the horse trail for a while but soon left it, cutting over a low hillock to the base of Mt. Conway. The natives call this Iloata. Legend has it that Iloata, a termite ancestress, looked far across the plain with love and saw another termite ancestress. They wished to join each other but could not and their tears fell and made the watercourses. For very sadness Iloata sank to the ground and became part of Mt. Conway. The other rose into the sky and became the evening star.\\
  
 We climbed Conway and Gerry and I did a bit of rockclimbing. Henry took a photo of Gerry standing on the head of the termite ancestress. He with his photographs and Frank with his writing are preparing an illustrated book on the MacDonnolls. It is well on the way to publication.\\ We climbed Conway and Gerry and I did a bit of rockclimbing. Henry took a photo of Gerry standing on the head of the termite ancestress. He with his photographs and Frank with his writing are preparing an illustrated book on the MacDonnolls. It is well on the way to publication.\\
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 We left Iloata and continued on, to camp in a side valley near Brinkley Bluff, with Paisley Bluff nearby. The only flat land was covered with dove-grey Plants of deadly nightshade, its enticingly soft leaves protected by deadly spines. After a few encounters with these we find Digby referring to them with venom in his tones as “Bloody Marys”. The name stuck.\\ We left Iloata and continued on, to camp in a side valley near Brinkley Bluff, with Paisley Bluff nearby. The only flat land was covered with dove-grey Plants of deadly nightshade, its enticingly soft leaves protected by deadly spines. After a few encounters with these we find Digby referring to them with venom in his tones as “Bloody Marys”. The name stuck.\\
  
-In sandy hollows under the river-gums heaps of dead leaves had accumulated. I collected piles of those for a soft bed. There was never a night when I was not able to find sufficient leaves for a comfortable mattress. Sand can be very hard. \\+In sandy hollows under the river-gums heaps of dead leaves had accumulated. I collected piles of these for a soft bed. There was never a night when I was not able to find sufficient leaves for a comfortable mattress. Sand can be very hard. \\
  
-Our evening meal was prepared around the campfire with the wind whispering in the callitris like the lazy lapping of the sea on a tropical shore, and soon the night sky was spangled with myriads of bright stars. We wore watching Joan at her nightly task, intent on learning the secret of perfect damper-making. When next we looked at the sky two giant black clutching hands wore creeping over the sky towards - the rain ancestor approaching with stealthy steps. On such a night as this the Iliaka njemba are abroad - legendary grim emu-shaped phantoms that stalk over the sandhill wastes at night and devour straying children. We couldn’t believe the 2 years drought would break just because we happened to be in Central Australia, so we bedded down in the open. During the night we did actually get a short shower of slow well-spaced drops, but hardly enough to make us seek shelter.\\+Our evening meal was prepared around the campfire with the wind whispering in the callitris like the lazy lapping of the sea on a tropical shore, and soon the night sky was spangled with myriads of bright stars. We were watching Joan at her nightly task, intent on learning the secret of perfect damper-making. When next we looked at the sky two giant black clutching hands were creeping over the sky towards - the rain ancestor approaching with stealthy steps. On such a night as this the Iliaka njemba are abroad - legendary grim emu-shaped phantoms that stalk over the sandhill wastes at night and devour straying children. We couldn’t believe the 2.5 years drought would break just because we happened to be in Central Australia, so we bedded down in the open. During the night we did actually get a short shower of slow well-spaced drops, but hardly enough to make us seek shelter.\\
  
 We were up at piccaninni daylight. Ahead of us lay a long walk across miles and miles of desert, to Hughes Gorge. The rain ancestor had vanished and the fresh morning air was filled with the flute-like notes of a butcher-bird. We hastened to get on our way. Before long the sun soared over the horizon like a ball of fire, presaging a hot day.\\ We were up at piccaninni daylight. Ahead of us lay a long walk across miles and miles of desert, to Hughes Gorge. The rain ancestor had vanished and the fresh morning air was filled with the flute-like notes of a butcher-bird. We hastened to get on our way. Before long the sun soared over the horizon like a ball of fire, presaging a hot day.\\
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 Now, when I shut my eyes, I relive that day in my memory… I see millions of gibbers coming towards mo as on an endless conveyor belt - light red, bright red, brick red, blood red, purple, grey and orange, peach-coloured and olive green - they keep on coming, with occasional scatterings of white gleaming quartz chips to dazzle the eyes… mile after square mile of stones scattered at random over the heart of Australia… lightly embedded in red dust soft as talc… recently rain-washed and forever undisturbed except by the springing feet of the black-tailed wallabies or the pounding of the red and grey kangaroos. I am mechanically putting one foot in front of the other, for there is no reason to break the rhythm, and my four companions are doing likewise. I have my hat pulled low to shelter my eyes from the glare, but the hot Capricorn sun hammers on my back and provides a delicious inferno of heat for the myriad flies who are having a free ride on my rucksac.\\ Now, when I shut my eyes, I relive that day in my memory… I see millions of gibbers coming towards mo as on an endless conveyor belt - light red, bright red, brick red, blood red, purple, grey and orange, peach-coloured and olive green - they keep on coming, with occasional scatterings of white gleaming quartz chips to dazzle the eyes… mile after square mile of stones scattered at random over the heart of Australia… lightly embedded in red dust soft as talc… recently rain-washed and forever undisturbed except by the springing feet of the black-tailed wallabies or the pounding of the red and grey kangaroos. I am mechanically putting one foot in front of the other, for there is no reason to break the rhythm, and my four companions are doing likewise. I have my hat pulled low to shelter my eyes from the glare, but the hot Capricorn sun hammers on my back and provides a delicious inferno of heat for the myriad flies who are having a free ride on my rucksac.\\
  
-We stop in the sparse shade of some mulgas for lunch and don our flyveils, then the interminable walk continues, over the dry claypans, the resinous scent from clumps of spinifex pervading the shimmering hot air and accentuating the deep loneliness and dangerous waterlessness of the terrain. Our half gallons of water get us to Hughes Gorge, but will there be enough to get us back again if we find no water?\\+We stop in the sparse shade of some mulgas for lunch and don our fly-veils, then the interminable walk continues, over the dry claypans, the resinous scent from clumps of spinifex pervading the shimmering hot air and accentuating the deep loneliness and dangerous waterlessness of the terrain. Our half gallons of water get us to Hughes Gorge, but will there be enough to get us back again if we find no water?\\
  
-All through the long, hot day we trailed over the pebble strewn wasteland of claypans… ahead of us the ancient hills basking like sleeping dragons under the suh… no shade anywhere. ​Hughes Gorge, when we at last reached it, was Heaven. There we found glorious permanent waterholes six of them. Climbing up through the cool shade on smooth waterworn rocks was a delight to the bare feet. Sometimes we had to swim through pools in order to continue. The shock of cold water after the outside heat was exhilarating.\\+All through the long, hot day we trailed over the pebble strewn wasteland of claypans… ahead of us the ancient hills basking like sleeping dragons under the sun… no shade anywhere.
  
-And always the night camps were of an unearthly beauty. After the heat of the day a now ethereal world opened up. Lying in OUT sleeping bags on soft beds of dry leaves we would study the skyey star-charts. The dark spectral hills thrust upward into the night with Venus atop and a thousand stars tangled in the ironwood trees. In the magic stillness meteors shot their whispering course across the blue emptiness of interstellar space. It is on nights like these that one sees in a flash the inner springs that make the Bushwalker what he is. The secret of keeping one’s vision is always to be a nomad, never to remain long in one place… “All experience is an arch wherethru gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades forever and forever as I move.”\\+Hughes Gorge, when we at last reached it, was Heaven. There we found glorious permanent waterholes - six of them. Climbing up through the cool shade on smooth waterworn rocks was a delight to the bare feet. Sometimes we had to swim through pools in order to continue. The shock of cold water after the outside heat was exhilarating.\\ 
 + 
 +And always the night camps were of an unearthly beauty. After the heat of the day a now ethereal world opened up. Lying in our sleeping-bags on soft beds of dry leaves we would study the skyey star-charts. The dark spectral hills thrust upward into the night with Venus atop and a thousand stars tangled in the ironwood trees. In the magic stillness meteors shot their whispering course across the blue emptiness of interstellar space. It is on nights like these that one sees in a flash the inner springs that make the Bushwalker what he is. The secret of keeping one’s vision is always to be a nomad, never to remain long in one place… “All experience is an arch wherethru' ​gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades forever and forever as I move.”\\
  
 We allowed ourselves three days to return to Standley Chasm. When we came back again to our Brinkley Bluff camp we found, miraculously,​ that the Bloody Marys were now in purple flower; the few drops of rain some days earlier had brought them out.\\ We allowed ourselves three days to return to Standley Chasm. When we came back again to our Brinkley Bluff camp we found, miraculously,​ that the Bloody Marys were now in purple flower; the few drops of rain some days earlier had brought them out.\\
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 We dropped off the Hogsback into a high valley which was particularly rich in flowers. The small amount of rain had worked its magic spell; in an area of less than 15 square foot I counted 15 different plants in flower. I made up a floral ring for Joan. There was a bright significance about it as she stood by Frank putting it on her finger “He has wed me with a ring, with a ring of bright flowers”. On the ends of its supple vines Tecoma displayed its bell-like flowers. The sweet perfume of cassia pervaded the air, combined with the smell of ants seeking honey inside its yellow flowers. Prickley wattle had individual flowers big enough to entirely cover a man’s thumbnail.\\ We dropped off the Hogsback into a high valley which was particularly rich in flowers. The small amount of rain had worked its magic spell; in an area of less than 15 square foot I counted 15 different plants in flower. I made up a floral ring for Joan. There was a bright significance about it as she stood by Frank putting it on her finger “He has wed me with a ring, with a ring of bright flowers”. On the ends of its supple vines Tecoma displayed its bell-like flowers. The sweet perfume of cassia pervaded the air, combined with the smell of ants seeking honey inside its yellow flowers. Prickley wattle had individual flowers big enough to entirely cover a man’s thumbnail.\\
  
-We camped for the night in the upper Standley Chasm beside a dry waterfall chute. Always, in such places, if we climbed up we would find water in deep rocky pools. There are said to be fish – bony bream which the aboriginals call ntapitnja - in the deep gorge holes in the MacDonnolls ​that have defied the longest drought. We didn’t see any, but long-legged waterbirds which haunt the waterholes seemed to have a knowing look.\\+We camped for the night in the upper Standley Chasm beside a dry waterfall chute. Always, in such places, if we climbed up we would find water in deep rocky pools. There are said to be fish – bony bream which the aboriginals call ntapitnja - in the deep gorge holes in the MacDonnells ​that have defied the longest drought. We didn’t see any, but long-legged waterbirds which haunt the waterholes seemed to have a knowing look.\\
  
 We returned next day to the lower Standley Chasm and the tourists. After lunch we were able to get aboard a small bus which was returning half empty to Alice and so we arrived back at the Greenleaves campground for very necessary hot showers and washing of our clothes.\\ We returned next day to the lower Standley Chasm and the tourists. After lunch we were able to get aboard a small bus which was returning half empty to Alice and so we arrived back at the Greenleaves campground for very necessary hot showers and washing of our clothes.\\
  
 // (To be continued) //\\ // (To be continued) //\\
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197202.txt · Last modified: 2020/11/18 17:18 by rogerbrowne