Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Gosse Bluff, Tnorala Conservation Reserve - December 2016

The eroded crater of Gosse Bluff (Tnorala).
With the weather un-seasonly wet in Central Australia Sam and I decided to do some shorter walks this year. It was worrying me a little that if I managed to get out onto some of the longer walks then by the time I tried to return to Alice Springs the roads may be impassable and I might be stuck out in the desert. The grey skies and mud also weren't doing a lot for my walking mojo either. So today we decided to head out to Gosse Bluff and check out the short network of walking tracks out there. To get there though we had a bit of an epic drive down through Hermannsburg, the road was a river of red mud today, although judging by the road works going on our next visit will be along a sealed road I think.
We had to quickly learn how to disembark without getting red mud all over us on this trip.
Gosse Bluff is known as Tnorala by the local Arrernte People and they lease the land to the Northern Territory Government. The scientific explanation for Gosse Bluff is that it is an impact crater left over from a huge meteor strike 142.5 million years ago, the meteor blasted a crater 20 kilometres wide, although years of erosion have reduced the bluffs to around 5 kilometres in diameter. It is thought that the impact packed one million times more power than Hiroshima and would of killed all living things for hundreds of kilometres. Nowadays Gosse Bluff makes a grew place to stop and stretch your legs for a while on the drive from Watarrka to Alice Springs.
Heading up to the first lookout point, you can see the information board on the ridge above my head, I reckon we'd walked about 50 metres to get here.
Gingerly climbing out of the ute we more or less managed to avoid most of the red mud coating the side of it, something that we would have to become good at over the next few days as the ute only got dirtier. Now while the grey skies may have been sucking away my mojo a bit it wasn't cold, actually it was pretty warm and humid so much so that pulling on my walking boots caused me to break out in a sweat. Luckily we'd chosen a pretty easy ramble to start our walking holiday, within five minutes after leaving the car park we arrived at the first lookout over the crater, an information board explaining the dreamtime significance of this spot for the local indigenous people.
Due to cultural reasons there is no off track exploring allowed, this is as far into the crater that you can go. From what I've heard there is some indigenous art sites scatted around the walls so maybe one day it will be opened up a bit.
There is no shortage of red bluffs to photograph, sun rise and sun set on a blue sky day would be beautiful I would think.
From the first lookout we backtracked twenty metres and basically circumnavigated our way around the car park on a walking track. The vegetation inside the crater appears a bit more lush than outside on the arid plains, obviously the topography would help with the run off although like a lot of places up here there's a dreamtime story to explain the abundance of bush tucker as well. The vegetation inside the crater mainly consists of spinifex and witchetty bush along with a few ghost gums in some of the bigger creeks. It was quite pleasant wondering along the level track getting reacquainted with the sights and smells of the Red Centre again. 
The higher second lookout provides for a better over view of the crater, as well as a bit of a cooling breeze today.
After around 15 minutes (yeah its a short walk) we got to another turnoff for a track that climbed up to another lookout. This lookout is east of the car park and is the best spot to get an overview of the crater and it's eroded walls, being well and truly the highest spot on our little stroll it also provide a welcoming breeze to take the edge of the humidity. With more dark clouds heading our way we decided to leave our lofty vantage point and head back down to the ute, arriving just in time to avoid another soaking.
The climb and descent of the second lookout was the crux of our little walk.
Heading back to the car park through the spinifex and witchery bush.
The Dirt.
We walked 1.2 kilometres and climbed 63 metres on the short stroll. This easy walk is probably suitable for most people although the second higher lookout is a little cliffy so you'd have to be a bit careful there. Probably the best place to get information on Gosse Bluff is the NT Parks web page, but it's pretty basic and the map is useless for walking. John & Lyn Daly have also mentioned this walk in their old Take a Walk in the Northern Territory book, but like the parks stuff it's pretty basic. The good news is that with the walk being so short in length walking notes aren't really a necessity on this stroll.
Relevant Posts.
Gosse Bluff in the distance, from Tylers Pass.

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