I’m fully aware of what the title sounds like, but I couldn’t help myself. If you’re looking for that kind of stuff you won’t find it on this blog, sorry!
Kings Canyon is a pretty iconic part of the Aussie outback, and sits in what is informally known as Kings Canyon National Park – which isn’t actually a thing, it actually sits in Watarrka National Park and will take you 3-4 hours (depending on road conditions) to drive the 450km from Alice Springs – and you’ll get to drive through Yulara!
Even the drive to Kings Canyon is littered with pretty amazing scenery, and it isn’t every day you go driving around the outback anyway, at least for most of us. There are a few different routes to Kings Canyon, but you can find out all about that on the National Parks page.
Before I tell you about my hike, if you want more information on Kings Canyon then you can always check out the most recent (2015) pdf document about Watarrka National Park. It’s a pretty handy document and will tell you all you need to know for your visit and how to properly act in the park (which amazingly so many people are unable to do 🙁 )
There are a few different walks that you can do in and around Kings Canyon, but the most well known (and arguably the best if you’re short on time) is the Kings Canyon Rim Walk. The walk takes a few hours depending on how fit you are and how fast you can climb and as always when you’re in the outback:
Always carry PLENTY of water.
Not energy drinks. Water. You’ll need it to stay hydrated in the inevitable heat.
On to the hike!
The rim walk begins at the foot of a not particularly tall outcrop. That’s pretty deceiving. The initial climb is pretty brutal, so much so that most of the group I trekked with were knackered once they’d reached the top (except Simon, Simon is a beast climber).
The first climb is really steep. It isn’t high, just steep, so now you know, you can prepare yourself for the lactic acid build up that’s going to kill you on the ascent! You’re welcome.
Once you’ve reached the top it evens out for the most part – it isn’t flat by any means – but it’s a lot easier to walk around than it is to climb up.
Part way around the walk, well, from the beginning to the end really, you’ll be greeted with views like this one.
The thing that makes Kings Canyon stick out for me, in an area that boasts formations including Uluru and Kata Tjuta, is the variety of landscapes that you come across.
The complete Rim Walk is around 6 kilometres long, which isn’t really that far when you think about it. Despite that, you get the climb and descent, the walk around the rim, the breathtaking views of various cliff faces and you can even walk down to the canyon floor to one of the permanent pools (aptly named the Garden of Eden).
The garden, which is apparently named because the sandstone canyon helps to preserve and foster the growth of various species of plants and animals which are long extinct in other parts of Australia, has actual water!
A lot of people dive in and go for a swim, but really, you shouldn’t. Try to avoid going for a dip if you can, just because it’s the respectful thing to do.
Note: this isn’t the garden, this is just one of the various small pools of water which are helping the local fauna thrive. Just looking at this picture alone I can see at least 7 different plants. Not bad nature, not bad.
Heading back up the steps and boardwalks from the canyon floor to the rim, you’ll pass a whole bunch of sandstone domes, steps, stacks, you name it that rock formation is probably there somewhere – I did say it was diverse.
Back at the rim after crossing a boardwalk and climbing a few naturally formed steps, you can get up onto a tall rock stack where you can pose for some pictures to scare your family.
The idea is you can lie down in a position and look like you’re grasping at the rocks to hold yourself up when you’re about to fall a few hundred metres into the canyon. It’s perfectly safe, but good fun to scare the crap out of your family and friends.
Just note if you do try that, don’t smile and look super happy that you’re about to ‘fall’, it doesn’t really have the same effect.
Some parts of Kings Canyon actually have fossils too, or so I’m told. These marine fossils have something to do with the continent once being submerged – in the same way that Tasmania used to be connected to mainland Australia and the whole story of the Great Dividing Range.
You can find them all over the place if you look hard enough, they’re on the cliff faces, and even on top of the rim. Yeah, just imagine that however high up you are on the rim, it was once covered in water and the marine fossils are proof of that. Hard to get your head round isn’t it?
Before I wrap the rim walk up (no I’m not going to spoil it by giving you the descent pictures, at least not yet) I have to show you this pictures – one of my favourite pictures that I took up on the rim walk too.
It’s a ghost gum tree. No points for guessing how it got its name. These trees seem to grow in almost impossible places and they’re unusually photogenic for a tree.
Either those roots are burying themselves into the sandstone, or it’s not got any. Still, there are quite a few of them around, and if I were any better at taking pictures at the time I’m sure I’d have some super cool pictures to show you, but I wasn’t and I don’t.
If you chose or choose to go to Uluru before Kings Canyon (which is what I’d recommend), you may get to hear some of the aboriginal stories about the canyon and it’s cultural significance with the local indigenous folk. There’s a whole story about sex birds that took place in Kings Canyon, but as with the ascent and descent pictures, that’s a story for another day.
I’d love to hear from you, so if you’ve got any stories about Kings Canyon, want to know something I’ve missed, or have anything to add, then please let me know in the comments!