Ten years ago, pastoralist Charlie Chalmers, signed the first ever voluntary conservation covenant on grazing land in the Northern Territory. This special parcel of land he named the Mac & Rose Chalmers Conservation Reserve, after his parents. It is also known as Tower Rock after the granite outcrop that was the families’ favourite picnic spot. The Reserve however, is so populated by spectacular granite outcrops is hard to know which one is their Tower. It is certainly a remarkable landscape, similar to the Devils Marbles but with more diverse vegetation and far fewer tourists.
This little-known treasure is 312 k’s nth east of Alice, beyond Harts Range and above the tropic of Capricorn. The granite boulder terrain supports a great diversity of plants and animals, including number of threatened species. Though some of the plants seem not quite familiar to us, due to the different soil, the ghost gums and bloodwoods still stand majestic against the red rocks, flocks of Zebra Finches and Budgies move through, so it still feels like home.
The Chalmers family who made their home on this country in the early 1920’s fostered a good relationship with the local Alyuwarre people, respecting their customs and beliefs, a relationship that continues today. We hope to connect with Traditional Owners and artists when we visit nearby Mt Swan Homestead and store about 25ks away. This is the home of the Eastern Desert Art Gallery, where local artists display their work. The most famous artist from this region being the late, Emily Kame Kngwarreye.
There are showers available at the Mt Swan Homestead and the opportunity for us to refill our water supply.
Those of you who have been with us before and are accustomed to fractured quartzite ranges around Alice will be amazed by these ‘sculpted’ granite forms, so many different shapes and sizes, clustered and balancing to create vivid hills and shady crevases. The geology and floral taxonomy at Tower Rock is fascinating. Some of these outcrops are easy to climb and the view from above is a brilliant patchwork of texture and colour. It’s the kind of place where the week will reveal more and more of interest. I’m really looking forward to this unfolding process and to sharing it with other creative, observant and inquisitive eyes. Yours?