With full bellies and all on the tour now wide awake, we left Kings Creek Station at about 8:15am. By 9am we would be climbing the iconic Kings Canyon, following the Rim Walk trail.Located around halfway between Alice Springs and Uluru, you are now truely in the heart of Australia’s Red Centre. Made up of layers of sandstone intercepted with hard shale, rising 270 metres above sea level, with areas plummeting down to the surprisingly lush Garden of Eden. This 400 million year old natural wonder, is a place of great significance to the original land owners, the Karrke local indigenous community. The Karrke people welcome you to respectfully climb, touch and explore, always keeping in mind the history and natural environment. Their only request being, do not swim in or touch the waters. Always be sure to respect the local communities wishes, these places are sacred to them and to allow tourists to visit something we might not otherwise get to see or experience is most generous.
Our bus dropped us in the car park next to the Canyon. It didn’t look too bad from the car park……! Here again though we were warned it was to be a strenuous walk for the next three or so hours, in particular the 500 steps up to the top. Some of the tour chose to stay on the bus and do the easier walk at the base of the Canyon, but the rest, we chose to complete the challenge.
Mitch gave us all a safety brief at the bottom, warning of the dangers, making sure everyone understood as well as emphasising these were the last amenities for the next three hours, so use them! But, most importantly, explaining how the emergency stations worked, and drumming home for us all to remember to take note of where the last station was as we traversed this natural wonder. Ok this is getting real now.
Before commencing the ascent, Mitch mentioned how he’d only seen one snake on the steps before today. Oh great, only one, I’m pretty sure that one will also have a family up there. Now, not only are we balancing cameras, climbing what looks to be a very steep 500 stone steps, keeping up with the group and still checking the view, we also had to watch for slithering wildlife. Ok, lets do this.
Yes, there are people climbing those steps. Look very small doesn’t they. This perspective gives you some idea of how steep the steps are. For those considering doing this, I’ll give you some insight as to how I worked up to this. Eighteen months ago I would not have even attempted this as I was on the surgeons list for two hips surgeries. However, in that time, I had not only built up my fitness, I had worked through the pain & challenges involved with a year of physio, followed by six months of PT sessions, to the point I could now complete 1000 steps on gym stepper in 10 minutes. The only difference being, the stepper was even and symmetrical. What for me was the most challenging about going up? Not the steepness or the number of steps, it was various heights and natural rock formations which proved challenging. My length of stride was still shortened, but at least I had fitness on my side.
Stopping along the way to look down and see how far we climbed, as well as snap some shots, I was by now, one of the stragglers at the back, letting those with the long easier strides, bounce ahead. In fact this was to be case throughout the walk with myself and a very highly entertaining 68 year old lady named Helen, who was also a photographer, as we kept up a the rear all morning. Mostly because we saw so many incredible photo opportunities, and as any photographer knows, you just have to stop and capture those shots.
After making those final steps which were high ones, we gathered at the top, slowed the heart rates, took those once in a lifetime photo memories, then continued along the top of canyon. Everything I had read, everyone we had spoken to, said that once you get to the top its flat. Actually its not. In fact, traversing the top is still a matter of watching your stepping, with some easier rounded walking areas, but still plenty of steps and clambering.
Before too long we were at the infamous Priscilla’s Crack (top photo above), named so, after being used as a setting in the movie, Pricilla, Queen of the Desert. Once you climb through the crack, you come across what looks like a natural amphitheatre, complete with stone layered seating. Soon you reach the edge of the Canyon again. From here, you start to slowly drop down.
The downward spiral brings you to a well built set of man made steps leading down into the lush Garden of Eden below. Remember to respect the wishes of Karrka people and refrain from touching the water.
The landscape changes constantly up here. One moment you are surrounded by the centuries old sandstone and shale, the next you are peering out across massive plunging chasms, marvelling at the sheer height and size of this incredible canyon. Rocks balance is what looks to be precarious positions, but somehow they stay there.
The photo above is simply for size perspective, yes that is a person across the other side. The walk back up from the Garden puts you on the opposite side of the canyon to were you started. It was a stark reminder of the dangers around the area, to see park benches named in memory of those who have lost their lives plunging from the edge. This is sandstone, not solid rock, and it can decide to fall away at any time. The photo below shows one of the Canyon faces where a massive sandstone area, completely fell off and collapsed into the chasm below.No matter how tempting it is to stand on the edge for the perfect selfie, dont do it. A park bench in your memory will not be the same as having you around in everyone’s lives. They’re called a zoom lens for a reason, use it.
We continued on around the rim before beginning the descent down. Now, the descent is not a straight steep descent like you walked up originally. It is a lot more gradual, but, the steps again are differing heights, with no hand rails to cling to. I was certainly most grateful to the helpful tour guides and participants who offered their steadying arms on the more difficult areas.
The difference at every turn is just mind blowing. You really cannot describe how impressive this part of our earth is. To have completed this walk in around 3 hours is an achievement, and we were rewarded with a short 30km drive to the Kings Canyon Resort here we could purchase lunch and a chilled beverage to celebrate our achievement at The Thirsty Dingo Bar.After resting and replenishing ourselves, it was time to board the coach and head back to Uluru. This was an interesting drive, as the journey down had been in complete darkness, now, we could see the landscape rolling out ahead. Mitch & Tachie both gave us some history and local information as we continued on up the road.There were to be some interesting stops on the way. The first was Australia’s most remote bus stop. Here at 3:15pm every day, 3 buses meet to swap passengers who are heading in another direction. The stop is located on Angas Downs station. This station was overgrazed with around 14000 head of cattle more than it could sustain. Remembering what I said in the first article about 4 cattle per 250 acres, thats a lot of overgrazing on this 320 500 hectare, roughly 1 million acre station. Still a baby station by Australian standards. Because of the overgrazing, it was handed back to the indigenous people, the Anangu, who are trying to turn the station around. An issue like that out here though, takes years to correct.
As you pass through, the flat topped, horseshoe shaped, Mt Conner comes into sight. This is the one commonly know as Fooluru as many people mistake it for Uluru. This inselberg is 400 million years older than Uluru, coming in at a whopping 750 million years old. We stopped to climb the sand dune off the highway, and view the one million year old Lake Amadeus, which is a 180km long salt lake covering 1032 square kilometres. In 1872 this expanse prevented Ernest Giles from discovering Ayers Rock and Kata Tjuta as the weight of his horses was not supported by the dry glistening white lake bed. There is reportedly around 600 million tonnes of dried salt on this lake, after the inland sea water evaporated..Our last stop on this epic day trip, was Curtin Springs Station. It took 9 years to drive the 1400 head of cattle from South Australia to the more than million acres settled as Curtin Springs in 1943, by John Curtin. In 1956 Peter Severin, his wife Dawn took over the lease, and over the first year, they and their young son, only received six visitors. Proving just how remote this area is.
Over the years this has been built up to accomodate tourists with a restaurant, shop a controversial liquor licence and camping facilities. Mitch stopped to have a chat to Peter Severin while we admired his baby red kangaroo. Make sure you stop and have a chat to the emu Mongrel, the previous emu Bastard is now deceased so Mongrel now reigns as head emu. Bird aviaries abound too, theres plenty to see here!
We are now a mere 100kms from Ayers Rock Resort. During the final part of our homeward journey, Mitch takes the time to sit next to each of the tour participants and have a chat to find out what you thought of the day. Nice personal touch Mitch!
Our wearied bodies head back to our rooms for some rest and relaxation After we reached the resort by 5:30pm. Time to unwind and stretch the muscles before another adventure packed day begins. On the return home, Mitch did mention we would be lucky tonight as there were enough clouds around to make for an incredible sunset. He was right! And wine in hand, we drank in the pure beauty and quiet surrounding us. Perfect end to an incredible day. Thank you must go to Mitch & Tachie who were awesome. Also to our patient and friendly driver Ivor. Mitch & Tachie if you read this or, if you know them, I’d be more than happy to pass on copies of other photos of you guys, just leave a message below or contact me via message on Instagram, facebook or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Thank you for your interest in this series. That’s the biggest day out of the way! Next up will be the helicopter tour.
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