We set off from Ayers Rock Campground before 8am. We were all a little sad to be leaving Yulara. We had enjoyed our stay there vey much. Seeing Uluru and Kata Tjuta had been the highlight of our trip. It was the reason we came this way in the first place.
We pulled up for a break at the Lookout to Mt Connor and I’d read that there was a salt lake on the other side of the road. I couldn’t recall any salt lake when we came that way so I was curious to find it. Mt Connor was shimmering pinkish in the morning sun when we pulled in at the lookout. Across the road I could see a huge red sand dune and there was a pathway leading over it that looked like many feet had passed that way. Worth a look.
Across the road we went, up and over the red sand dune and there it was. Wow! The salt lake is huge. To get it all in one photo I had to use the panorama setting. It even has an island in the middle!
We took the turn off northwards to Kings Canyon on the Luritja Road and found it to be a good tar road. Two lanes although not a particularly wide road.
We pulled up for a look at the information boards and to take a photo in front of the Watarrka National Park sign. We’d made it to Kings Canyon. Another tick off that bucket list.
We had an uneventful trip to arrive at Kings Canyon Resort around midday.
Kings Canyon Resort has been taken over by Discovery Parks and it looked like a fair bit of money had been spent recently. The reception building was either new or newly renovated. All the signage around the park was new. We checked in and were a bit disappointed that they couldn’t put us on sites next to each other. We’d booked them so many months ago. Oh well!
We were even more disappointed days later when the sites either side of us had people only staying for one night. It would not have been difficult to move them so we could be next to each other. I feel that the reception staff need better training on how to use their own booking system. We have not had any problems with the other Discovery Parks we’ve stayed in.
The resort has a Service Station and General Store that sells a good variety of basic food supplies. There is also a pub that looks like it would be a good spot for a cold beer or some pub grub. There is a swimming pool surrounded by lots of green grass (amazing out in the the desert).
There are multiple amenities blocks, camp kitchens and BBQ’s scattered through the park. It is a very large park and offers all types of camping as well as lodge accomodation.
We set up our tables under the motorhome awning and enjoyed a family dinner while we discussed our plans to visit the canyon and which walk we were going to do.
After dinner, while a few of us were inside the motorhome doing the washing up, two wild dingos wandered through the campground. The kids were very excited to see a wild dingo for the first time.
Dingos are commonly seen around the park and there are many signs up saying NOT to feed them and to report any aggressive behaviour to rangers.
Day 2 at Kings Canyon Resort saw us all up bright and early ready to tackle the canyon walk. We’d decided we’d do the Rim Walk. The Rim Walk is a 6km loop that is classed as a Grade 4 – Moderate to Difficult walk.
Everyone enjoyed the walk however it was a more difficult walk than any of us anticipated. The first part of the walk was on a flat tarred track that leads into the canyon. This lovely walking track is wheelchair friendly and follows the bottom of the canyon for 1km. The Rim Walk branches off and this is where the hard part starts. It is about 500 rocky steps to reach the top and some of the stones are set quite a height apart. Definitely a challenge for those with short legs!
After the exhausting climb up the 500 rocky steps you finally reach the top and the path flattens out. By this time you’ve climbed over 100m. The top of the hills have eroded over time into strange looking domes. They are truly stunning.
400 million years ago Watarrka was a windswept plain covered with sand dunes. That sand has become the Mereenie Sandstone of the cliff tops. It’s hard and brittle. The softer Carmichael Sandstone of the slopes is more crumbly.
The track does a detour out to Cotterill’s Lookout. We had to check that out! It was challenging climbing over rocks following the track until we came to a metal bridge, Once across that the track leads straight up to the top of one of the domes. Maddie scampered up the side of the dome however I found this bit quite scary. It was a very long way down and I’m not great with heights. We turned around at that point and made our way back to the main track.
Some of the stone has ripple marks. Evidence that there were once shallow lakes and rivers at Watarrka.
Eventually the track leads to a set of very steep series of stairs that go down into the canyon. Near the bottom is a bridge across the waterhole below. Another series of steep stairs goes up the other side. About half way up is the detour to the Garden of Eden. This 600m detour leads to the well known waterhole. Ben and I decided to go this way whilst the others went straight to the top and had a lunch break while they waited for us to come back.
About half way there I nearly said to Ben ‘forget it’. It was lots and lots of stairs going up and down. I’m really glad I stuck it out though. The Garden of Eden is a magic spot. It is sacred to local Aboriginal men and swimming in the waterhole is forbidden in their culture. They ask visitors to respect that and not to swim in that special place. It is certainly a great spot to just sit and take in the serenity. Even though there were quite a few walkers there everyone spoke in hushed voices and were careful not to spoil the ambiance for others. Ben and I just sat there for a bit, not talking, just taking it all in. Check out the photo below.
After reaching the top of the stairs on the other side of the canyon the track continues and comes to a bridge with a gate. Once through the gate you cannot come back through. This marks the end of the Southern Rim Walk. Some of the views from that side are spectacular. We were all very careful to stay away from the cliff edge as they are sheer cliffs and a fall would probably be fatal.
The Southern Rim Walk is a very rocky track with lots of up and down. Riley was great at helping his short Granny down some of the steep bits. I have to say how impressed I was with our three kids. What little troopers. They stayed in formation leaving about 2m between them and the person in front, they carried their own backpacks, and they all seemed to enjoy the walk.
It was 6 tired people that arrived back at the car park. What an epic walk.
At the end of our walk my Apple Watch said we’d walked 8.6km and had taken us four hours and three minutes, although we’d had a few rest stops and a lunch break along the way.
We decided to have a night off from cooking after our strenuous day’s walk and go to the Pub for dinner. The Thirsty Dog Pub looks like it’s had a Reno recently too. It’s quite a large space with a restaurant at one end, bar area in the middle and another large bar area behind a wall of glass doors. There’s a pool table there too. Outside the pub is surround by red gravel and gardens with long benches set up under the stars. There’s a boardwalk to a lookout where there is a little caravan set up as a bar. The lookout bar opens from 5pm – 7pm each night and live music is on offer. It’s a great spot to watch the sunset with a nice cold beer.
We found ourselves a table for six, ordered dinner and the three adults enjoyed a lovely cold beer. Rich and I were a little disappointed in our meals, they were overcooked, however the rest declared theirs to be good pub grub.
Our third day at Kings Canyon Resort was a down day. A day to just chill and relax. Katie and I got our cleaners hats on and cleaned our RV’s from top to bottom inside. Clean sheets on the beds, floors washed, multiple loads of washing done and hung out in the lovely sunshine. The outside would have to wait until we get back down south and can find a car wash we can fit in.
The rest of the day was spent reading, napping, relaxing. The kids played cards, read books and scootered around the park meeting up with other kids and swimming in the cold pool. Rich spent the day reading a book and starting a new one. He did do a run to the dump point though.
As we sat around our tables next to Katie’s van we discussed what has been the best thing so far. We were now 4 weeks into our 6 week trip. We all had so many highlights, Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, the West MacDonnells, Alice Springs, the Desert Park in Alice, Territory Day Fireworks in Alice, the Day Dream Mine Tour in Silverton, the bus tour in Coober Pedy. So many amazing experiences. All of us have enjoyed seeing the desert and have found the landscape so incredibly beautiful.
I was really pleased to hear that all the children have enjoyed the walks we’ve done. They all declared the Kings Canyon Rim Walk to be the best and Redbank Gorge in the West MacDonnells the worst. The Rim Walk was long but they loved it. Redbank Gorge was just plain hard work climbing over rocks.
We retired early so we could be up and on the road early the next morning. We have three long driving days ahead. It’s 1,100km back to Port Augusta.