Whatever she's found, she's sure getting excited about it. We're on a late afternoon bush walk along a red and dusty track at Ross River Resort. My new friend Jenny is up ahead and she's leaping over a dozen logs and sporting a grin on her face like she's just struck gold.
We thought we should act interested, so scooted after her. We wanted some gold too. "OMG" she reports breathlessly, "It's a red-tailed black cockatoo. No, wait, there's a huge FLOCK of them!" Okaaay, Jen's a birdwatcher. I didn't know that. Wonder where the gold is?
Half way through our second visit to Ross River, we're still learning new things about it. Birds, pioneering history, cattle management ... hosts Graeme and Lee are a wealth of information about life on the land out here. They're flat out with a full house this week, but we're all still getting well looked after with great meals and comfy cabin accommodation.
If you've already been to Alice Springs for a visit, I'd highly recommend on your next trip that you give Ross River a go instead. If you're dying for some controlled airspace practice, you can always call into YBAS for fuel, then just keep on flying for another 20 minutes or so and check this place out. It's only 36nm away to the n-east.
The resort and airstrip are nestled in amongst some substantial peaks in the eastern Macdonnell Ranges, and the "circuit" will quickly get your attention when you finally spot the strip. Flanked by these hills, you'll soon get the message to make your circuit long and skinny, but take your time, use some caution and it's all very doable.
The strip is fine gravel, maintained very well, and there's plenty of parking, mid-way down the southern side. This is where you will be picked up from.
It's about a ten minute drive back up to the resort, where Graeme and Lee will settle you into your cabin and give you the lay of the land. You can have a swim in the pool, go on any number of hikes, or just chill in the historic homestead as you wait for a respectable hour to take your place on those very comfy bar stools.
While the exercise junkies took off on a vertical track up the nearby mountain on our last visit, I had a wonderful time with photography in that fabulous late afternoon light. Nature does all the work out here - all we have to do is turn up with a camera and hold still.
There's a huge big dining room, bar, cozy little nooks with fireplaces, walls covered in the pioneering history of this wonderful old structure, dating back to the 1890's when it was named Loves Creek Homestead.