Excellent night sleep in very comfy beds. Still woke at 4am but at least the room was warm and quiet so I lay there happily until the sun came up. Clark made us bacon and eggs for brekkie then we wandered off to Ormiston Gorge and the Ocre Pits. We drove on for a further two hours - now that the bus is empty I sat up the front with Clark and picked his brain on the politics of the Northern Territory.
Hermannsberg is a German mission town which, when I visited in 89 was a sea of discarded white plastic bags. It was still a dump and the plastic bags had been replaced by green VB beer cans.
An 18km drive along the bumpiest 4WD track I have ever known brought us to the stunningly beautiful Palm Valley. It is the only place in Australia where these particular cabbage palms grow. We walked up the valley over the ridge then back along the valley floor.
Clark showed us a grass seed which aboriginal people string onto a stick and use as a hairbrush - common name Teddy Bear's arsehole - no kidding!!
The dirt in the centre is red - bright red - and is commonly referred to as bulldust. It gets into everything and colours your clothes red, your shoes red, your skin red - you can never really get rid of it. I once had a car that had been to Broken Hill and it still blew red bulldust out of the airconditioning a year later. The BOSS was lamenting the fact that she was now a redhead due to the bulldust mixing with the oil in her hair.
Back to Alice took about 2 hours and we were dropped at a new hostel (thank goodness) Annie's Place. It is a very funky place and the staff were brilliant and friendly. Our room was stunning with an ensuite, fridge, TV, heater and air conditioner and best of all, excellent mattresses. We both dived into the shower and washed away all the bulldust. We met the other 4 girls in Annie's Restaurant for a drink and a $5 dinner of Thai Chicken Pizza. (the drink cost more than the dinner). The whole bar is decorated with posters and newspaper clippings and photos and the atmosphere is so alive. Such a lovely way to end our holiday.