Following the Fink River along to Palm Valley campground after thousands of kilometres of dust, it was a pleasant change to see water in the creek and some green foliage after the recent winter rain. The road was much better than we anticipated as the sign at Hermannsburg said to allow three hours to navigate the 18km stretch of 4WD track. We were anticipating Bachsten Gorge conditions and were happy to reach the campground in daylight as it only took us 40 minutes as the road was fairly dry and in good condition.
School holidays brought an influx off campers but the signage at the start of the track obviously scared a few away as the campground had plenty of space and we settled next to a beautiful old gum. For the first time the kids had a bit of patchy grass for their swags. We were delighted to be away from the bustling, tourist campgrounds of Yalara and Kings Canyon and to a smaller and more intimate national park. The kids soon found a few friends and although we didn’t collect any firewood, our neighbours had and kindly lit the communal fire. They had the wood, we had the marshmallows for the kids and it was a good combination as we enjoyed sitting and chatting about all the great destinations and experiences we have had in the outback.
Palm Creek flows alongside the campground and it didn’t take the boys long to start riding their bikes along the creek, over jumps and through the water. Their enthusiasm for the new found bike track was infectious and Ash and I were taken on their latest bike adventure. The hard rock made it easy to push through the water but Bailey, being on a smaller bike had to push a harder as the water washed over his seat. It was only a matter of time before he fell over in the deepest part of the creek and I loved watching him laugh, pick up his bike and get straight back on. We rode the creek as until the water almost reached my seat and then decided we might be best to take the actual track into Palm Valley.
Austin and I rode in and Ash bought the car with the other bikes in case the kids wanted to ride out. The ride was beautiful and we managed to just beat Ashley and my parents on what was a 30-minute drive/ride. Ashley and Austin did the big trek at Palm Valley while the rest of us did the 2km walk along the creek bed. The palms are unique in this area as it is one of the only places you can find them in the desert as they generally only grow in tropical climates. The red cabbage palm is unique to Central Australia as its closest relatives are found more than 1,000km away. The permanent water and protection from the prevailing winds provides a habitat for the palms and cycads, which were growing from the side of the rock walls in the gorge.
Bailey was keen to ride back to camp so we mounted our bikes in the hope we could make a similar time to that of Austin and I. Only a kilometre into our ride, we caught up with a large tourist 4WD truck. The track was only one car wide and the truck pulled over to the side to let us pass. Bailey went around the truck and peddled his little heart out and I am sure the passengers wished they had a bike as we were so much quicker than their truck. We made it back to camp before the cars as there was no way they could overtake the truck on the narrow road. Although it was hard work fitting all the bikes on the camper for the trip, it was well worth it as we have all had so much fun on them.
It was time to move on to the next destination but not before the 5km Mpaara walk to the top of the rocks, where there is an amazing view over the valley. The dreamtime stories on this walk were some of the scariest of the trip, it was like reading a horror story and we were in suspense until we hit the next chapter (signpost). If I was an aboriginal child, there would be no way I would leave camp and climb the rocks and run into the spirit-man which eats children. They story did however have a happy ending, which was lucky as I am sure the boys would never have slept again in their swags at night.