Bucket List: Experience the Magic of Rainbow Valley

Rainbow Valley as the sunsets

“How many people do you think will be camping there?” H asked as we turned off the highway and onto the red corregated road.

“I think there will be five” I said hoping Murphy’s law would be on our side and we would instead be blessed with an empty camp suite.

“I think there will be two others” T said.

We continued along the red dirt road admiring the scenery. I was on the edge of my seat, or as on the edge of my seat as I could be with my seat belt tightly constricted around my chest thanks to the bumpy road. Rainbow Valley is only about an hour from my home town yet I had never been. This is mostly because I don’t possess a 4WD (not that you strictly need one). But since I made the decision to quit my job and focus on establishing a healthy work – life balance, I made a promise to myself to start checking some of the local items off of my bucket list.

Rainbow Valley is a sandstone structure that is renowned for it’s magical ability to change colour from ochre red to orange to purple as the sun sets. It is also a significant cultural site for the Upper Southern Arrentre people as it is a site relating to bush tucker Dreaming. Many petroglyphs, rock paintings, grinding stones and stone chip tools have been discovered here, though I’m not entirely sure where. Those things are obviously considered very sacred as their locations are not advertised, and despite my best efforts I couldn’t find any.

As we pulled into the camp site I got my first real look at the bluff. It was honestly breath taking in its magesty. It’s kinda like Uluru in terms of it being a large monolith-like structure in the middle of nowhere. The next thing I noticed what that there was only one other small trio of campers which meant we basically had the place to ourselves.

Related: My Favourite Photos of the Red Centre

Once we’d decided on a camp site we unpacked our tents, swags and other bedding and decided the rest could wait until after cheese and wine had been consumed and we made our way to the lookout. Unfortunately for us, we did not get to witness the entire phenomenon of a rainbow sunset for which the place was named after thanks to the arrival of clouds on the western horizon. This was a little disappointing but I was there with friends, cheese and laughter so I okay with how things had turned out. Once the sun had set we returned to camp for a dinner of burgers and shenanigans by the camp fire.

When your nails match your location perfectly

The next morning I woke at around 6am ready to watch a sunrise. My friend who has camped out here before told me not to expect much with the sunrise, after all, it’s the sunsets that are the most beautiful. But I was not deterred and I’m glad I didn’t take her advice to remain rugged up in my sleeping bag as the sunrise, while nothing spectacular in and of itself, created a beautiful soft glow over the bluff.

For the next hour I walked the tracks around the valley to mushroom rock and around the claypans, snapping away with my phone in absolute awe.

A close up of the wind and water eroded rocks
A side view of the bluff

After feasting on a breakfast of bacon and egg sandwiches we packed up camp and got the road. Instead on taking the highway home, we decided on the scenic route and went through the Owen Spring Reserve.

T and H were excited for the drive but honestly, I didn’t see much there to love. We visited the Owen Springs homestead ruins which was kind of cool and went in search of ‘Haunted Tree Bore’ which was a bit of a disappointment. I mean, honestly, it was called haunted because the trees made noise when they was wind. That’s it.

In any case, our overnight camping adventure was a success and was the necessary boost I need to show me my more local bucket list goals are both worth it and achievable.

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