Palm Valley Spring 2018

A small group enjoyed a beautiful day visiting Palm Valley. We completed all the marked tracks namely Arankia and Mpulunkinya Walks along Palm Valley, then Mpaara Walk and Kalarranga Lookout near the campground.


We had the pleasure of assisting a couple of Countrymen who we spotted by a vehicle by the side of the road. One fellow wanted a 2km ride to a broken down car from where he planned to siphon some fuel. The other fellow, Henry, needed a ride to his home at Sandhill Camp near Hermannsburg. Over 80km driving he told us so much: Conrad Ratara TO for Palm Valley is Henry’s Uncle while Henry is TO for Boggey Hole; Papunya team Yarumpi (honeyant in Luritja) won the football, Tjupi is the Arrernte term for honeyant; there are three Arreernte tribes: Western (Hermannsburg), Central (Alice Springs ) and Eastern (Santa Teresa). Hermannsburg is Lutheran, while Santa Teresa is Catholic.  Palm Valley is a good address – you can buy alcohol if that is your address.

Hermannsburg and nearby Palm Valley had three days rain (compared with only one in Alice Springs) so there was a little water along the Valley.

We stopped off at Hermannsburg to buy Apple Strudel on the way home but too late, they close the cafe at 4pm. Hermannsburg Heritage site looks like a great place for an outing.


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Inarlanga Pass circuit – Sunday 27th May 2018

A wonderful walk to open our autumn walk program, from the Ochre Pits, through Pioneer Gorge, with shoes off for a knee-deep wade.


20180527_094259A couple of kilometres along Section 9 of the Larapinta Trail, which was quite busy at this time of year, including a walker who needed to continue blaring music from her mobile device even in the peace of the West MacDonnell Ranges.

Enjoying lunch in Inarlanga Pass, it was quite overcast.20180527_094822

Then along the Arrernte Trail, which has interpretative signage about the mulga and its resources.

Thanks Ken and Helen for leading such a wonderful walk.

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Introducing the McDoualls – the ‘distinct’ high peaks of the NT

Mt Sonder - a McDouall

Mt Sonder (West MacDonnell Range)

Peak baggers in Scotland have the Munros – the high peaks over 3000 feet (910 metres) in elevation. In response Bill Wilkinson devised the Tasmanian Abels – the high peaks of Australia’s mountainous southern isle over 1100 metres with a distinct fall of at least 150 metres on all sides.

And now, the Northern Territory has the McDoualls – the high peaks over 1000 metres in elevation with a distinct fall of at least 150 metres on all sides. Read more.

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Bushwalking in Australia’s “adveNTure” Territory

The latest edition (Volume 11, June 2015) of Bushwalk Australia’s e-magazine is now out, featuring bushwalking in the Territory. Included are features on the best walks in the NT, a profile on our bushwalking club, and much more.

Enjoy the read. Download the e-mag here.

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Direction finding by the stars in the southern sub-tropics

by Michael Giacometti

In the southern hemisphere, all of the stars and constellations rotate around the South Celestial Pole (SCP). Unlike the northern hemisphere with its North Star, there is no ‘South Star’ situated at the point of the SCP.

The Southern Cross and Pointers are used to navigate in the temperate and sub-temperate zones of the southern hemisphere. However, they are of less use to navigators in the southern sub-tropics. This is especially true during the southern summer, from October to March, due to the tilt of the earth northward so that the sun shines more directly at the Tropic of Capricorn, and less of the southern night sky is seen.

In the southern sub-tropics the SCP is located close to the horizon. The Southern Cross and Pointers, being situated close to the SCP, are sometimes visible, but for long periods of the night they ‘set’ and drop below the horizon. At Alice Springs (virtually at the Tropic of Capricorn) in the summer months, the Southern Cross does not ‘rise’ (or become visible) until the early hours of the morning. Instead, south can be found using the stars Canopus and Achernar. With the SCP, these two stars roughly form an equilateral triangle.

A practical guide to locating south

Two other constellations can assist in locating Canopus and Achernar: the Belt of Orion, and Sirius (also called the Dog Star).

These four – Orion’s Belt, Sirius, Canopus and Achernar – describe an asymmetric arc in the night sky.

1. Start by locating the Belt of Orion.

2. Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, is in the opposite direction to (and in a straight line through Orion’s Belt from) Pleiades, the Seven Sisters.

3. Canopus is the second brightest star in the night sky. The angle of the arc of Sirius–Canopus from Orion–Sirius is about 135°, and the length of the Sirius–Canopus axis is about 1½ times that of Orion–Sirius.

4. Finally, Achernar is the brightest star in the constellation Eridanus. The angle of the arc of Canopus–Achernar from Sirius–Canopus is about 135°, and the length of the Canopus–Achernar axis is about the same as that of Orion–Sirius.

5. Using the location of Canopus and Achernar, project a third point outside the arc (on the convex side) which would form an equilateral triangle (a triangle where all sides are the same length). This projected point is the South Celestial Pole. (It lies roughly on the extension of the Sirius–Canopus axis). Drop a plumb line from the SCP to the horizon and you have south, accurate to within a few degrees.

[The Southern Cross and Achernar are on opposite sides of the SCP in the night sky. In the southern tropics, if one can be seen, then the other cannot.]

A star chart can help you to locate the constellations (such as those available from

Note: This is an addendum to section 5 of the Map Reading Handbook, edn. 2 (TASMAP 1991).

Download a copy of the instructions [displayed below] here: skymap south by stars PDF


Finding South by stars

Star chart for Southern Hemisphere November 2014 from

Note: the southern hemisphere star chart is designed for use at 35°S (the latitude of Adelaide) and up to 15° either side of this latitude (as far north as Tennant Creek. For the southern tropics, refer to the Equatorial star chart.

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Leaders Guidelines updated – Driver responsibilities

It may seem like common sense, but all drivers have a duty of care to their passengers. This applies on our bushwalks too. To clarify this, the following has been added to the Leader Guidelines:

Driver Responsibilities

In terms of the potential of major injury or death, driving to and from the walk is probably the riskiest part of bushwalking. Drivers should put the safety of their passengers (their fellow bushwalkers) first. Stop or share the driving if tired or unwell.

Due to post-walk fatigue, drivers should be ‘Sober Bob’ and refrain from alcohol and other drugs.

As a passenger, please inform the driver to slow down or pull over if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.

You can download the full guidelines here.

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The art of walking country, a response

This article, a curatorial response to the 2012 exhibition, was written and considered for the prestigious national magazine Art Monthly. It was not used.

Cecil Hackett - At the summit of Mt Woodroffe, June 1933 (c) Wakefield Press

Cecil Hackett – At the summit of Mt Woodroffe, June 1933 (c) Wakefield Press

When I saw the cover image of Philip Jones’s Images of the interior: seven Central Australian photographers (Wakefield Press 2011), I knew that I needed it for the hybrid art–recreation exhibition I was curating: walking country: 30 years in the arid rangelands, a photographic journey.

Download the full article The art of walking country

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