After our spectacular helicopter flight over Kings Canyon we head down to the park’s entrance to discover the treasures of this area on foot. There are two walks that are offered here – leaving the tracks and climbing around the structure is not recommended and considered disrespectful to the local Aboriginal people for who this is a sacred site.
You really are in the middle of the Australian bush here – wild, remote, untamed. Visitors are responsible for their own safety. Information is handed out but there is no one to control. If something does happen to you, well, you will need to wait until help arrives eventually. This is no Disneyland.
A couple of things to remember, as with any outback place. Take plenty of water with you, protect yourself from the sun and the flies (in the warmer months), wear sturdy shoes. Don’t attempt the climb of the rim walk when temperature predictions are not in your favour. This is the desert, and it does get very hot indeed.
We are visiting in July, the Australian winter. The weather is ideal. After a cold and crisp start into the day the sun rises and warms up the air. There are almost no flies, no reason to bother with fly nets. There’s a bit of a breeze, and it’s cool and refreshing.
Two ways to experience Kings Canyon. Visitors around us split into two groups. Those who want to do the 4 hour loop along the rim, and those that stay on the ground and do the 2.6km (1 hour) return track to a viewing platform at the end of the gorge. Since we are travelling with little kids we don’t think twice, no choice is not ours to make, we need to stay on the shorter walking track. We watch, however, how the other visitors climb the so called Heartbreak or Heat-Attack Hill, the only steep section of the walk. From what we can see, it’s not to be underestimated – the track consists of lose pebbles and rock that are somewhat assembled to look like stairs. But in fact they are not stairs, you do need to have a certain degree of fitness to get up to the top.
We know that these walkers will be rewarded with beautiful sights such as the lush Garden of Eden and the Lost City which we have already seen from the convenience of our helicopter ride.
Even though on first sight the base walk seems less rewarding, it is absolutely beautiful and not disappointing at all. The walk is easily manageable, the kids have no issues at all. It follows the dry creek bed, an oasis in the middle of the desert with a variety of hardy shrubs and gorgeous gum trees.
On both sides the 100 meter high cliff walls close up on us, shining in all shades of browns and reds, which goes so well with the different greens of the grasses and bushes. In between, discreetly, delicate flowers in red, yellow and blue. This really does not feel like the desert at all.
Since it’s winter, the sun is not rising very high in sky, casting long shadows on the canyon floor. It gives this place a certain magic, an otherworldy atmosphere which lets you forget time and space. If it wasn’t for the songs of the birds, it would be dead quiet around us, so very different from the everyday noise that usually surrounds us.
At the end of this easy walk we reach the platform which offers views of the end of the gorge. Along the rim, you see the other walkers following their path. Due to the winter sun, shadows are very dark indeed. You can imagine, what a cool and refreshing oasis this must be in summer.
Kings Canyon is a must-see destination if you consider visiting the Red Centre of Australia. It is a day’s worth of driving from Alice Springs, so you need to check out one of the handful of local accommodation options available. Alternatively, day tours from Uluru are feasible (the trip takes around 3 hours each way), so you can stay at Yulara resort and just visit Kings Canyon for the day. When travelling by car or motorhome, make sure you arrive via the Lasseter Highway rather than from the north, as the Larapinta Drive is not fully sealed.
We thoroughly enjoyed Kings Canyon, it really is a magical place.
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