After my visit to the Rock, pretty much halfway through my trip, I head back towards the Stuart Highway. I´m not going straight back though, as I will first visit King´s Canyon, one of the many sights of the West McDonnell Ranges. On the way I see my first Aussie camels, waiting behind fences to take tourists on tours.
It´s full Moon, and I wait for the night to hike up the canyon rim under the gentle moonlight. As I rest in my tent waiting for night to fall, I hear packs of dingoes howling in the distance while the round full moon rises over the horizon. I wonder how bad were-dingoes are compared to were-wolves! Eventually, I start my hike and carefully climb the steep rocks to the top of the cliffs. I enjoy a good breakfast at the top while the sun rises, all alone on the cliffs that will soon get crowded with busloads of visitors. I wander around the cliffs, creeks and weathered sandstone domes that spread across the landscape, making it look like a lost city. It´s then time to go and I return to my high-speed vehicle and get back on the road.
At first my intention was to take a “shortcut”, the Ernest Giles road, a 100km dirt track that cuts straight to the Stuart Highway, avoiding me an extra 140km going the long way around. After the Oodnadatta track, I´m pretty confident I can take another dirt track. However, I find that “sand track” would describe this one better, and I can´t really pedal for more than 50m without being stuck in slippery sands. After a few kms of hard work and not doing much better than walking speed, I decide to turn around and go back.
That`s when I remember about the reggae concert in Imanpa, and it`s just the right day! In a way life probably made this track sandy on purpose, guiding me back to Imanpa on this day. As a bonus, the store, usually closed early on Saturdays, stays open late for this occasion. So I can even treat myself to some nice snacks. And it´s no luxury after having rushed to the community and skipped lunch breaks to make it as early as possible!
I meet new community workers. Nate, an american traveler is working the store with Keira. And I meet Joel, working for the NPY Women´s Council, one of many aboriginal organizations that look after communities well-being throughout Australia. I am just here for the concert, but am invited to stay over if I want to, sleep in a bed, have a shower and wash my clothes. I was ready to just head off after the concert and camp out, but I start to realize that the less you ask for, the more you get out of simple hospitality. What goes around, comes around. What you give one day, you get back another, and vice versa.
Then it´s time to listen to some local rock and reggae on stage. I discover Sunshine Reggae (now Tjintu Desert Band), and the studio that produces them, CAAMA Music. It is pretty special to listen to the band playing in front of all the children and people of Imanpa, when I think that I´m here by pure chance. I meet Tim from CAAMA who tells me about the Wide Open Space festival near Alice Springs that will happen in a few days, just about when I will be there! Tim has been doing a lot of work with traditional music and culture, in Australia and abroad, and you can find out more on his website.
I end up staying two days in Imanpa. It´s hard to turn down the opportunity of unlimited computer and internet access in such a remote area. After a good rest, talks, and a little insight on aboriginal communities, it´s time to head off and I start to make my way to Alice Springs, my next stop.