SO we made it to Kings Canyon.
We decided to stay in the caravan park at Kings Canyon Resort because of how close it is to the canyon. With the base of the canyon only a 15-minute drive away, the sunset’s reflection of the gorge made for beautiful afternoon light. The resort itself could be really amazing with a bit of TLC but the pool wasn’t that great, and compared to other sites we’ve stayed at the amenities were not the cleanest.
Despite this, it was still the closest caravan park to the canyon and at the end of the day, that’s what we were there to see. On the day of the climb we made sure to leave as early as possible. It was extremely hot with the heat wave hitting just after Christmas bringing 45C-plus temperatures and we wanted to not only beat the heat but see the colours of the sunrise bouncing off the canyon.
Kings Canyon sees quite a few tour operators coming through daily so we wanted to leave with enough time to avoid the crowds. The first part of the walk was pretty much just a straight climb up some very steep rocky stairs. Considering I’m a little bit round in the middle these days, and was carrying a pack filled with lunch and water for the family, let’s just say it was definitely a character-building experience. At one point I even thought ‘what the heck am I doing this for?’ But then the walk started to level out at the top and became quite flat around the scenic rim of the canyon.
What was great about the walk up was the diverse scenery, which provided multiple opportunities for fantastic photos. The canyon itself had these massive pieces of sandstone that looked as if they had been perfectly cut for the sun to shine through the cracks in the rock and create the perfect photo opportunity.
After about an hour’s walking around the rim, we started descending into the valley they call the Garden of Eden. The ferns, black boys and eucalyptus made for a nice cool walk before reaching the beautiful waterholes at the bottom. Unfortunately, a rock had collapsed and we weren’t able to access the swimming hole. It was still, however, a spectacular little oasis set against such a harsh environment and made for a great place to take a seat for a while and enjoy the cool air.
With the descent down to the waterholes came the climb back up to the Southern Scenic Rim. Luckily for us it was only a 20-minute walk uphill before it flattened out. We were then able to look back over from where we had just been on the northern side and experience the canyon from a whole new perspective. Another spot right on the cliff’s edge was perfect for just sitting and marvelling at the incredible views and beauty of the canyon.
The descent back down to the carpark was quite gradual and let me tell you, a lot more enjoyable than when we first started climbing. All in all, Kings Canyon really was a highlight for us and of all the hikes and walks we’ve done in the past, I think this one takes the cake. It’s simply breathtaking and the diversity of the terrain reminded us of many other remote places around Australia. The makeup of the rocks, the lay of the land, and the light shining at different angles bringing out the colours of the stone was incredible, with something new to look at around every corner.
The Kings Canyon walk is free and the track itself is very well marked and easy to follow. The only real hard part of the walk was at the very start but once we made it close to the top it was quite easy and enjoyable. I’d advise going early, not just to beat the crowds and the heat, but also to see the views with the amazing colours from the sunrise. Great photos were also a lot easier to take without crowds of other people around.
They say the walk can take around three to four hours but it took us about two and a half hours with the kids and plenty of stops for photos and admiring the views. Take plenty of water, as even with the coolness of the early morning we still needed a few water breaks. All in all, Kings Canyon is a must see if you’re in central Australia. It’s about 380km from Alice Springs via the Mereenie Loop and I would definitely recommend the detour.
From Kings Canyon we’re heading towards Uluru and the Olgas, so stay tuned for my next article in the May edition.