Written by: Dian
Seriously though, words don’t really do Kings Canyon justice, so here’s a picture to start this post:
Kings Canyon is an ancient sandstone canyon and an icon of the Red Centre. We decided to do the Rim Walk – a 6 km walk that would take you 3 – 4 hours to complete – which, as the name suggests, brings you around the rim of the canyon.
It turned out to be the BEST part of the entire trip for the both of us!
So we got up nice and early-ish, had another simple breakkie of bread and / or cup noodles and went on our way! We drove for 15 minutes and got to Watarrka National Park.
The walk won’t actually be closed off under any circumstances. However, in summer months, it’s better to start hiking early in the morning before temperatures get hotter at noon. It’s best to avoid doing the walk altogether when temperatures are forecast to be above 36 degrees.
We didn’t have to worry about the temperature because it was forecast to be cloudy, with temperatures no higher than 20-ish.
The Rim Walk
The Rim Walk begins with a challenging 500-step climb. But it’s worth every step. Upon reaching the summit, you will marvel at the breathtaking views of Watarrka National Park and into the canyon itself before descending into the green oasis of the “Garden of Eden.”
At sunrise and sunset (the time most walks take place), the colours of the canyon are ever changing. The Rim Walk is a strenuous walk, meaning people who are in good health, lead an active life, play sports or walk on a regular basis will be more than able to complete the walk in around 3.5 hours.
Alternatively, you may wish to explore the canyon floor, an easier shady walk that follows a trail between the two sheer walls of the canyon.
The obvious option was to do the longer walk for the full experience!
Beginning the Ascent
First, you follow a trail until you eventually see the first steps of the initial climb, the steepest part of the whole trail.
Train of thought at this point: Oh, that doesn’t seem so bad.
Then we started to climb.
To preface the rest of the post: I’m scared of heights. Brandon is not.
Climbing up the 500 steps was a bit of a task, but tbh I think I was more concerned about falling down the steps and dying.
You should definitely stop along the way and look back to admire the view, but naturally if you were afraid of heights too, you would do it like I did: with great caution, apprehension, and very firm footing.
The climb up IS tiring though. It didn’t help that I was winded from the climb and the height. The air there is dry, but we both found ourselves sweating.
Notice the arrows that appear in some of the pictures? They’re meant to guide you along the trail. They’re colour coded, because the different trails might intersect.
If you’re into geography, you’d definitely be able to appreciate the rock formations around you. We took time to admire them along the way. Look at those layers, the result of years and years of erosion.
Tried to get a photo of Brandon looking cool climbing up those steps but ended up with this. I cry
Eventually, you will get to the end of the climb with actual flatter terrain. From here, the walk will be more leisurely.
Exploring the Kings Canyon Rim
Pretty amazing to think that the weathered landscape here was that much different all those centuries ago.
The climb rewards you with spectacular views of the canyon from the cliffs. There are signs warning you to keep at least 2 metres away from the cliff edge. Apparently the last deaths here happened back in 2014, and then in 1996. Basically, don’t be an idiot and you’ll be fine.
Before moving on, obligatory cliff photo!
All that red! Brandon was saying it makes you think of a Martian landscape. Maybe without all the fauna.
Hundreds of millions of years ago, there were sand dunes where the rock currently stands.
The terrain isn’t always smooth, but it was a lot of fun climbing here and there. Made us feel like Indiana Jones-esque ~explorers~.
With the help of the trusty tripod, we tried to take a pic with the two of us.
Aaaand we got it!
We walked a little further until we got to this little detour. To get to the Cotterills Lookout, one of the highest points on Kings Canyon, you would have to cross a bridge perched on top of a gap.
The best thing to do when you’re afraid of being on a precariously-situated bridge is to run across. Maybe more of a jog with some squawking in my case, but still.
Worth the amazing view, though!
Incredible, isn’t it, the sheer vastness?
Along the way, we bumped into other hikers – some on their own, some on a guided tour. We liked how friendly they were, and how they normally greeted you when you passed by.
We got to a wooden stairway which would take us some way down and lead us to the Garden of Eden.
Stairway to Eden ♪
The Garden of Eden is a gorge in Kings Canyon, an oasis of sorts among the dry rocks.
It’s a tranquil place. Nice to just sit, listen, and look out for wildlife.
We lingered for a while before moving on. What goes down must come up. The climb UP the stairs was definitely draining, what with the steepness. We were definitely winded when we got to the top. Phew!
These domes are some of the more distinctive features of Kings Canyon.
And with that, we were done with most of the walk! Unfortunately, it was only then that the skies were beginning to clear. Ah well.
Brandon got these lovely shots though:
Eventually, we got to these downward-sloping steps which led us all the way to the carpark.
3.5 hours since the start, and we were done!
All in all, Kings Canyon is arguably one of the most beautiful places in the outback. We HIGHLY recommend doing the Rim Walk to anyone for the amazing rock formations! It’s worth the initial climb (and the added anxiety that comes with a fear of heights).
As for the fitness level needed? You don’t have to be super fit to do the Kings Canyon rim walk, but you should ideally be moderately active since there is a lot of climbing. Nothing some cardio won’t fix!
Kings Creek Station
It was only 12-ish when we were done, so we headed back to Kings Canyon Resort, bathed, rested and then drove out to the Kings Creek Station nearby to explore. It’s a roadhouse situated just 36 km from the resort.
I’d read a website recommending the roadhouse camel burger (!), so we decided to give it a shot.
Imagine our surprise when we found that the kitchen was staffed by Koreans. Not the ‘Strayan we were expecting at all. They were probably there on a working holiday or something.
We got ourselves…
… a kangaroo steak sandwich and a camel burger! First time for everything, right?
Kangaroo is similar to beef – on the tougher side, pulls apart just like beef. The camel meat came as a patty, so it’s harder to describe, it did taste gamey but overall it reminded me of chicken while Brandon thought it tasted like beef!
They also had two adorable resident dogs and a souvenir store with reasonably-priced hats… so somebody got himself a hat again! (I also got one because I’m a sucker like that.) Yay, we can walk around being obvious tourists!
By the time we got back to Kings Canyon Resort, it was sundown so we went out to the sunset viewing platform:
After nightfall, we had the one and only outback steak dinner for the trip to end the day:
The rib-eye cost us 48 AUD but it was a sizeable portion of medium rare (fite me on this) goodness which came with an unlimited side of mostly-sauce-laden salad. We were stuffed!
Finally! Clear Skies!
Our stargazing attempts were hindered on the first two nights. The first had an early-rising full moon and the other, cloudy skies. Boo!
Finally, after sunset, the skies were nothing but clear, indicating an amazing night for stargazing. The moon was only slated to rise at about 10 pm, giving us ample time to stargaze (something he was very excited to show me).
Well, it was like he said; hundreds, if not thousands, of stars dotted the ink black skies. We could even make out the famed Milky Way.
For Brandon, it was the perfect opportunity for him to attempt his very first foray into astrophotography. The photos came out perfect! He’s very happy with them.
It was an incredibly fruitful day. On day 5, we set off from Kings Canyon to Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park!