Introducing Watarrka (Kings Canyon) National Park
Continuing west along Ernest Giles Rd, or detouring from the Lasseter Hwy, brings you to the Watarrka (Kings Canyon) National Park, which keeps one of the most spectacular sights in central Australia – the yawning chasm of Kings Canyon.
Not much of a walker? The Kings Creek Walk (one hour, 2km return) is suitable for families, following the rocky creek bed to a raised platform with amphitheatrelike views of the towering canyon rim. Walkers are rewarded with humbling views on the Kings Canyon Rim Walk (three to four hours, 6km loop). After a steep climb up a 100m-high cliff face, the walk skirts the canyon’s rim and then enters the Garden of Eden at about the halfway mark. Look for fossilised jellyfish on the rocks as you descend into the Garden of Eden: a lush pocket of cycads around a natural pool. The next section of the walk winds through a maze of giant beehive domes (vertigo sufferers might consider crawling along this section; keep well away from the unfenced edge with a Dantesque drop-off). From May to October rangers lead walks (on Tuesday and Thursday from the Kings Canyon car park) explaining the canyon’s geology and contact with intrepid explorers.
About 10km east of the car park, the Kathleen Springs Walk (one hour, 2.6km return) is a pleasant wheelchair-accessible track leading to a waterhole at the head of a gorge.
The Giles Track (overnight, 22km one way) is a marked track that meanders along the George Gill Range between the canyon and Kathleen Springs; register with the Overnight Walker Registration Scheme (1300 650 730).
You can reach Kings Canyon from Alice Springs via the as-yet-unsealed Mereenie Loop Rd, a drive of 325km – 4WD recommended. Emu Run, Adventure, Sahara Outback and Wayoutback tours depart Alice and stop here on the way to/from Uluru.
Last updated: Apr 21, 2010
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