Kings Canyon

Sunday 18th December 2016

 

Like good campers, we were up bright and early and on the coach ready to leave at 0530.  An hour later we got our first view of “heart attack hill”, which we would soon be making our way up.  This initial climb would take us level with the rim of the canyon, 100-150m above the surrounding country and 600-700m above sea level.

 

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“Heart attack hill” – we hoped it wouldn’t live up to its name!                     Time to ponder the wisdom of this climb as Steve adjusts his laces.

 

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We are doing the Rim walk, and popping into the Garden of Eden.           Looking back from partway up the hill whilst taking a breather.

 

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Steve & Chief at a conveniently placed rest stop half-way up.                      Still a ways to go...

 

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Posing at the top of the canyon.                                                                          Good to know it was there if needed!

 

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The sandstone rock began as sand dunes c.400 million years ago.              Cross-bedding – the wind deposited sand in different directions.

 

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Cycads only found in Central Australia – Macrozamia macdonellii              Clearly some plant species are less well adapted.

 

Kings Canyon started out as a crack in the sandstone.  Twenty million years of erosion by wind, rain and floodwaters have widened and deepened it to what it is today.

 

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At the North Wall lookout – quite a view.                                                     Don’t get too close to the edge because of crumbling rock or wind.

 

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Heading down jarrah steps, into a gorge. The sandstone rocks soak up rain water which sinks to the bottom becoming Kings Creek and allowing lush vegetation to grow.

 

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Peace and tranquillity in the Garden of Eden.                                                      The traditional owners prefer us not to swim.

 

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Back up at rim level, with the domes in the background.                              An interesting outcrop of rock.

 

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South Wall lookout – the most recent fall of rock left the flat, whitish area.  A good reason not to go too near the edge.

 

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The disadvantage of timing our walk to avoid the heat of the day – the sun was not in a good place for these shots!

 

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The domes were formed over millions of years as the rock cracked and then erosion along the cracks took away the squared edges.

 

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As the sun rose higher in the sky, the heat began to build as we started our descent down the sunny side of the canyon.

 

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The views and rock formations on the way down were every bit as interesting as on the way up.

 

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We stopped at the lookout at Kestrel Falls, where there is a waterfall after heavy rain.  Dry as a bone today though. And no kestrels. Ah, well, can’t have it all, eh?

 

We arrived back at the bottom soon after 9 a.m., hot, sweaty, in need of the loo, but ecstatically happy.  We would not have missed it for the world.  To be able to clamber and stroll over such an ancient, unspoilt and wonderful landscape and enjoy the natural world in all its raw beauty was indeed a privilege. Chief asked me if it had been worth the climb.  My broad smile said it all. 

 

As we made our way back to the coach we noticed that the path was now closed for the day.  Apparently it is closed at 0900 if the temperatures are forecast to be 36 degrees or above that day.  We could understand why, and were glad to retire to the air-conditioning of the coach for the return trip to the campsite.

 

We had some time to spare before lunch, and this time we took advantage of the swimming pool to relax and stay cool.  Steve put a slight damper on his day by entering the swimming pool with his new phone in his pocket.  He wasn’t quite all in, but it seems the phone was, and having an integral battery which he could not remove, it went on to quietly cook itself.  Fortunately, for the first time in forever we had thought it a good idea to get travel insurance, so who knows, we may even be covered.

 

Nothing short of a major disaster was going to spoil our day though, and after an early and very welcome lunch of fajitas, we all piled on the coach for a sleep on the 5-hour drive back to Alice Springs.  It had been three long, full days of really getting back to nature and experiencing the peace, beauty and grandeur of the “red centre”.  Definitely the experience of a lifetime.