Noi6 means "the 6 of us" in Romanian.

We are five, you are the sixth one.

We thank you for joining us in our trip around the world...

Monday, April 30, 2012

Middle of Australia, on the left

There is life after Uluru. It is called King’s Canyon, in Watarrka National Park and we walked around it. 

You walk on some ground and think: this is a beach, this is a hill, this is a mountain, taking your cues from around: sea and sand, grassy or wooded area gently curving upward, or rocks. Do you slow down enough to think what was before? In the King’s Canyon you can see that it use to be a sea, then a sandy dessert, then mountains that eroded slowly to the hills of today. Do you think I’m making it up? I have proof, it is written in stone! 

These are the dunes

and these are the ripples of an ancient river

and these are the remains of the mountains.

If you lose the markings, you're gone!
They are red because of iron oxide, but if you break them apart, they are white and crumbly. When it rains, water seeps through them, filtering the impurities, picking up the iron oxide, and as it evaporates, colors them back in red.

Nature got a hold on this place, through its hundreds of years cycades (a thorny bush) and eucalypts, but is a tough life, baked by the sun and the reflected heat from the rocks. 

As we weave our way between rocks and bushes, we are happy with the constant change and the dimensions of the place.

We get to cross a bridge above the waterhole and follow the cliff toward the bottom of it.  We found the Garden of Eden! 

That little shadow above the & is Mihai.

It is cooler here and the vegetation is completely changed from string grass and spiky bushes to large leafed trees and shrubs. It is an ecosystem in itself, all depending on the water accumulated here in the Wet, the rainy season. Though water is very cold all year round it used to be swimmable (not recommended now because of feces pollution).

Can you see these domes? Scientists say that they are cracks formed in a parallel way (like these things happen!) from north to south and east to west, that eroded in time. They should listen to the Luritja people, who can tell you that they are the Kuningka men. They came here in the Dreamtime, performed a ceremony with the local man and his family, and then continued their way to the North. Their offsprings are luritja, a marsupial, the so-called native cat.

We follow their example and drive on the Mereenie road toward West MacDonell Mountains. We are passed by two cars and meet two more. The rest of the time we are alone on it for the whole 4 hours. This is our chance! We change drivers. The first one to try her skills on driving on the left side of the road is Maria. She even shifts the stick without stopping the engine. She is happy, this is one of her wishes! Next, Ileana, all excited to hold the stirring wheel, while moving. And Ioan, almost standing, guided the car gently, while his father pressed the pedals. 

It’s eerie to meet with camels in Australia. They were brought for transport, and now they are running wild.

And we drive some more through the flat country and arrive at some hills in the middle of nowhere. 

This is the place where the baby star fell. You see, in the Dreamtime the women danced across the sky as the Milky Way. One mother put her child to rest in the turna (toor-na), a wooden baby carrier. But the turna toppled over and the baby star fell on earth, and he was covered by the turna. The mother, as the Evening Star, and the father, as the Morning Star, are still looking for their baby. 

This is the aboriginal story. 

There is another one, from 1960, when the science people concurred that this is an impact crater formed 144 million years ago (mind you!) by a comet or a low density asteroid. It was traveling at a speed of several kilometers a second and the impact created an outer ring of 25 km diameter, that eroded in time, and an inner one, of 5 km, made from upturned rock, hidden 3 km (2 miles) under in the rest of the valley. According to the scientist people, Homo Sapiens Sapiens (meaning modern humans) came into the picture around 1 million years ago. Question: how do the aboriginals have this story? I don’t know the answer, but if you are interested, I am sure you can find an acceptable one.

We are in the middle of the crater, on a rocky hill.
The road winds left and right though there is no evident obstacle. I ask the children what  do they think the reason is. Maria considers is a holy place, possibly related to the Dreaming, Ioan doesn’t know, and Ileana thinks they didn’t know which way they wanted to go.
We arrive at the Redbank gorge and we follow the dried water way. You see, when it rains there is plenty of water, this one is a raging river, if only for a few days. But now everything is calm, we walk on sand toward the few waterholes and watch the fish.

 If we would have been prepared with swimsuits and had more time and energy, we could have swam between rocks, climb on the other side, and explore the gorge. We are not, so we take their word that there is more beauty to this place than the simple layering of red rocks over white ones.

It is late and we need to push to Ormiston Gorge where there is a campground. After raising the tent, cooking and eating, we still have some time to unwind. 

Geology lesson: the top part of the cliff was folded over the bottom one, you can see a little ridge where they met.

It is our anniversary. We don’t feel the 22 years, we see just one road of mostly happy moments and a few of hard ones that molded and brought us here. The two of us are one, the children are part of us and individual beings. As we talk about memories, we witness our first together shooting star, coming into being, burning yellow-orange with a trail of sparks, fading from the center and disappearing in the navy-blue sky. The most beautiful gift...

The Southern Cross looks like a diamond with a small star inside of it.
We move on towards Alice Springs, between two parallel ridges. I’ve never met this kind of mountains, running along and never meeting. We pass the ochre pits and press on towards Stanley’s chasm, a space of 9 meters between cliffs of 80, but once in the parking lot we realize we don’t have the time to walk toward it and return in a timely fashion. We have to give back the jeep at 3 o’clock.

Alice Springs looks like a sprawled frontier town. There are some tall modern buildings in the center, but the rest is made from flat one-story houses. 
At the apartment we literally wash everything, including the footwear that has an offensive smell. We hole up for two days, watching TV, eating and surfing the internet. It is high time to put the expenses in and keep those numbers accurate.

We move again, in another RV, more modern this time and better looking, but with almost no storage space and with cockroaches (as we will discover later). We pass the Tropic of Capricorn. Though for the children has no significance, this imaginary line has an equal importance for us as the Equator or the Arctic Circle; it is a landmark. 

The weather should be different, also the vegetation, but we are still close to the Red Center. The last hold is represented by Karlu Karlu or Devils Marbles, stacked rounded boulders in the middle of nowhere.

There is the evidence and the scientific explanation of how they were formed through cracks, wind erosion and condensation peeling in a round manner, but I like better the native one, about the people from the Dreamtime, that still live there in the caves that are under, people who are kind and secret, but they can make you mad and change you into one of them. It happened with one child, and the old people made a big ceremony, singing the ground and the rocks to let the child return, but now that song is lost, they’ve got no song to bring children back!

Moon over crusty marbles.

I would have like to wander more around those marbles, to read more stories, but the road calls us. 

We leave behind, on our left, the middle of Australia...

and a dingo!

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