We LOVED Kings Canyon and find it very hard to believe that families actually skip this part of the red centre! They head to Uluru, but don’t make the time for Kings Canyon! If you are tossing it up; please make the time to visit this piece of paradise in the middle of the desert.
Kings Canyon is part of the Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory. Sitting at the western end of the George Gill Range, it is 323 km southwest of Alice Springs and 1,316 km south of Darwin.
There are a couple of options for accommodation in this remote area of the outback and we chose the Kings Canyon Resort. The perfect place to plop the van, only a stone’s throw away from Kings Canyon and with all the facilities that we needed.
The most common question we get asked is: “Did you do the Rim walk? Did your kids manage it? Did you manage it?” I had heard stories about the six km (loop) Kings Canyon Rim Walk which traces the top of the canyon and can take three to four hours to complete. We did our homework and weighed up all our options. From all accounts the hardest part would be the beginning, a very steep climb which locals call “Heartbreak Hill” (or “Heart Attack Hill”, due to its steepness). We went there early to avoid the heat – we also didn’t want to be disappointed as the walk is closed if it gets over 36 degrees. We were very impressed with all the safety signage & warnings. We had come all this way and wanted to see Kings Canyon from the best vantage point. So we decided we would do it. Plenty of sunscreen, snacks, water, comfy shoes and we were off.
I had my doubts heading along the path to the start of the walk, warning sign after warning sign “grade 4 track”, “only for fit & healthy walkers”…. and then I saw it! The beginning of the walk was more than steep in my eyes. It looked like over 100 metres of pure pain. I am far from fit and although I wouldn’t say I am scared of heights, sometimes I get a little wobbly. I took a deep breath and all I could do was try! (I was very thankful that I had dropped over 10kg prior to this adventure)
We sang…“Hi ho Hi Ho…it’s up the steep mountain we go”. The girls started very fast and were quickly reminded of the dangers of walking on loose rocks and to take care…and to stay close! I think I was freaking out about their safety more than anything else. We climbed…and climbed..stopped a few times for water and a breather and kept climbing. I was so proud of my family. We made it to the top and took in our surroundings. I welled up (again), so happy that we were all on this adventure together! Kate (5yrs) & Ashlee (8yrs) found the first part challenging, however their little legs got them up with no problems at all. The hard part was over…now to get through the next 6km.
The views from the top of the gorge/canyon were spectacular; the rocky walk was fairly flat and easy for us all. We took heed of the signage at the edges of the cliffs and stayed on the designated walking tracks. These tracks took us over and through huge rock formations and domes, every corner we turned we were faced with more WOW moments. We were all having an amazing time, walking as a family, enjoying each other’s company as we chatted about our surroundings, our culture, the history, the plant life…other tourists and LIFE. We were experiencing the great outdoors and nature at its absolute best and we all couldn’t be happier.
About half way during the walk, a detour descends to the Garden of Eden, a permanent waterhole surrounded by lush plant life. This transported us into an oasis of natural beauty and it was hard to remember that only a few minutes ago we were at the top of a vast mass of rock…and then in a garden. Loved it! By this stage, our girls were getting a little tired so we stopped and pulled out our snacks, apples and more water and ensured we took our rubbish with us and encouraged others to do the same.
The last half of the walk passes through a large maze of weathered sandstone domes and on this side of Kings Canyon we were treated to a very different view, just as incredible and mind blowing.
Our loop was nearly completed, as we descended; only 5 minutes from the car park, Kate asked Daddy for a lift. We were so proud of her little legs carrying her for 6 kms. We arrived back to the carpark and were all pooped, hot, tired and hungry. More snacks and water as we read through all the information boards at the base and then headed back to the Kings Canyon Resort where we were faced with an afternoon of NOTHING! Pure bliss!
The Kings Canyon Rim walk took us only 2.5 hours. Wayne and I agreed that we would have taken much longer if we didn’t have the girls with us, as they were eager to keep moving on. As previously mentioned, I believe I would have struggled if I had not taken better care of myself during the first half of the year. My weight loss had a massive impact on my ability to do the walks, compared to previous adventures, so I was very happy!
Kings Canyon Rim Walk tips:
- Go early – if the weather is predicted to reach above 36 degrees, they will close the walk and you will only be able to leave before 9am.
- Pack snacks, hats, sunscreen and plenty of water. You could be out there for 3-4 hours, so be prepared.
- Follow & respect the signs. They are there for a reason and were very helpful to us and the safety of our kids.
- Be realistic about your abilities. The first bit is hard work, but achievable and well worth the pain. Our neighbours at the resort were in their 60’s and one had a bad knee – they both took on the challenge, took their time and loved it.
We were there for 3 days and also did the Kings Creek walk – this easy, flat walk was 2.6km and took us along a walking track along the edge of the creek bed into the gorge. Gorgeous plant life and our imaginations ran riot as we all tried to picture what it wold be like in the wet season. We squinted up through the trees to see all the little people up on the rim and couldn’t believe how high and far we had walked the previous day.
We also went to see Kathleen Springs – another easy and flat walk. This 2.4km track was blissfully calm, quiet and we had no idea what we were to expect at the end. We followed along with the Aboriginal stories via signs and saw some ancient rock art. We sang songs and chatted, two things we love most about our walking adventures. The trail leads to a spring-fed waterhole at the head of Kathleen Gorge. A very cool place, not breathtakingly spectacular, but very calming. All part of the spiritual heart of Australia.
We loved this area and were so glad we extended our stay to include an extra night. We could have done it all in a day and half, but thoroughly enjoyed the tranquility of area, the stunning Kings Canyon and being unplugged for a few days.
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