I have many things to say about how privileged we felt to be able to experience the desert ablaze with wildflowers after the first wet winter in decades ... to be introduced to some aspects of the local aboriginal culture through our guide Mark ... to create some wonderful family memories.
But in the interests of brevity (I have the contents of the bathroom and laundry to rehouse after the cabinetmaker fiiiinally finished), I'll let the photographs speak for me and merely say that if you are a camping family and interested in travelling to the Outback, I can highly recommend Mutawintji National Park as a destination. It was the first national park in Australia to be handed back to its indigenous custodians, and it's a model to be proud of. All profits from the park are fed back into the park's management, entrance to some of the sacred sites is only with a registered guide (many of them aboriginal people from the area), and some especially important areas (the secret men's and women's business areas) are prohibited to tourists, as is right and proper.
Plus it's stunning. Look.
Our guide was fantastic. We went on one of the walks that you can only do with a guide, into the Historic Site. Due to it being school holidays it was quite a large group and Mark split the kids off from the adults and gave them special privileges (Secret Kids Business), taught them some commands in the local language and generally treated them like his own little posse. He recognised Son #2 from his school trip there in July and greeted him like an old friend, calling him Brother (everyone is Brother, Sister, Auntie or Uncle) and demanding to know which ones in the crowd were his parents and siblings. After giving us individual greetings, he then turned to the rest of the group and told them how every year "the kids from the Steiner school in Melbourne" come up to Mutawintji and how amazing they are and how wonderful their behaviour and attitudes are. (This was rather lovely for us to hear although possibly tedious for the rest of the crowd).
at the hand stencils site
Mark and the kids at the engravings site
rock art, thousands of years old. the blue triangle with WW in it, graffitied over the top of the indigenous art is by William Wright, manager of a local cattle station and part of the Burke and Wills expedition. because the graffiti is over 50 years old it's considered heritage and not allowed to be removed, much to the disgust of the indigenous owners
after a farewell hug from Mark, who promised to see Son #3 in three years time when he goes on the Year 8 camp, we returned to camp where the boys continued their never ending games of soccer and bocce with the paddymelons (relax, they're a weed)
next day, more walks in stunning locations
more rock art
tea towels drying at the campsite (the two on the right are from the Broken Hill op shop and are now the official Camping Tea Towels)
final shot of the red red sand before we headed home at the end of the week, through the sunset
It may have only been a week, but it was the experience of a lifetime.