After what only can be called an 'interesting' bbq, (it was a race to see if I could eat my food before the mossies ate me) we relaxed for a while under the gorgeous Southern skies for an hour. The milky way viewed from the desert is awesome. With no other light to detract from the stars, one has to see it to believe it. In fact 'awesome' does not do it justice, but is the only word I can think of. Shooting stars are common in this part of the world, but still make a spectacular sight as they explode through the atmosphere shattering into a blaze of fiery fragments.
The following morning I couldn't wait to tell everyone that I'd heard someone moving about outside our tent at about 3 in the morning. Not feeling brave enough to venture outside, considering how far from civilisation we were, I'd just laid there for ages with my ears straining and my eyes out on stalks waiting for something to happen.
My friends son-in-law suggested it might have been some Abo's doing their Xmas shopping. That made me giggle for ages every time I thought of it, but he was serious. If they are passing through, and it's not nailed down, don't expect it to be there the next day. Luckily it turned out to be the park Ranger checking up on whether we had paid for our camping passes. Sneaky devil, he scared the life out of me at that time of night. I found it hard to believe that the others hadn't heard him, since they had slept on top of their land cruiser all night in a swag bag. Talk about the sleep of the dead!!! Good job it wasn't an axe wielding madman intent on rape, murder and pillage. Fat lot of good they would have been as guard dogs.
The sun was getting up and temperatures were beginning to soar even though it was still very early, so we made a move to visit the gorges which are carved out of the rock in this area. Spectacular is the only way I can convey the emotions that one feels when trekking down into these wonders of nature.
Like mini Grand Canyons. Each one had a different feel, although all were worth the effort of exploring. As we stumbled our way down the rough paths that were hewn into the canyon walls, the temperature started to elevate to almost unbearable levels. This soon made the thought of a swim in the pools we could see at the bottom hundreds of feet below us increasingly desirable. There were signs that warned us of the possible effects of hypothermia due to the coldness of the natural spring waters that fed the pools, but nothing could stop us jumping in by the time we reached the bottom. We spent well over an hour just swimming around and playing about like small children in the first pool. The water was beautiful, so clear clean and cool you could drink it.
We spent a magical day exploring many of the gorges, but only scratched the surface of the extensive variety of sights to visit in this vast area. At least a week would be needed to do it justice.