‘It’s just a short walk up the gorge starting over there,’ the kiosk attendant told the three fit young women in front of us, waving casually towards the trail head.
Then it was our turn. Pilchard produced his senior’s card.
‘The track is uneven and rocky, and there’s a couple of creek crossings so please take it easy and take your time,’ the kiosk attendant told us. He pointed to the trail head, thus missing the venomous look Pilchard shot him.
But the clock was ticking, so jostling passing a few straggling Grey Nomads and ignoring the attendant’s instruction, we raced up the track like people half our age, barely even pausing for photos of the magnificent cycad palms and other remnant vegetation from a previous, wetter age.
‘Late’ isn’t a concept normally associated with self-guided tours of gorges or other scenic marvels, but Standley Chasm, also known as Angkerle Atwatye to the local Indigenous people, is an exception.
Although spectacular at any time, the sun only enters the narrow gap between its sheer and towering walls around midday for about half an hour.
And that’s when those red rock walls GLOW!
About 20 minutes too late on our only previous visit eight years ago, I took a couple of photos. On time for our June 2012 visit, the tally was closer to 200!
As we entered the chasm and in our haste to hog the best spot bring you these photos, we stepped around a man lying in an awkward position on the rocky floor.
But before you judge us as heartless and shallow, he was no out-of-condition senior in need of resuscitation but a cameraman filming a sequence with ‘Fred’ for Grey Nomad bible favourite Caravan and Motorhome on Tour magazine’s DVD insert!
Surrounded by a feeding frenzy of fans, Fred’s strategic position at the head of the chasm made it difficult to reach the best vantage points.
But I guess that’s why I was given elbows …
Privately owned and run by the Iwupataka Land Trust, Angkerle Atwatye is more commonly known as Standley Chasm, so named in honour of Ida Standley, Alice Springs’ first school teacher and first non-Aboriginal woman to see this amazing place.
Now it’s a popular stopping point for tourists at the start of their exploration of the magnificent West MacDonnell Ranges.
Out of Alice Springs in the middle of Australia’s Red Centre, the ranges spread both east AND west from ‘the Alice’, and Standley Chasm is just a taste of what to expect along the way.
I fear at one point I crossed the cameraman’s line of vision, so the Caravan and Motorhome on Tour DVD #178 MAY feature a red-head in a green T-shirt manically taking photos.
But if she looks fat, you’ll know the camera equipment was defective …
As we returned down the path, Pilchard plotting to challenge the young kiosk attendant to a race up the track, hordes of tourists continued to pour up the gorge to the chasm.
The urge to tell them they’d missed the best bit was ALMOST overwhelming.
But Fred was right. No one leaves Angkerle Atwatye without a smile on their face!
If you need more convincing that Standley Chasm, Alice Springs and Australia’s awesome Red Centre could be the start of a fabulous vacation, just check out the links below!
And if THEY don’t tempt you, nothing will!
Tempted? There’s always a chance for last minute flights if you want to see the sights of Central Australia NOW!