Watarrka National Park - Cities, Towns and Localities
Located about 450 km
southwest of Alice Springs and 280 km north of Uluru, Watarrka National Park
encompasses the western end of the George Gill Range, including the well known
natural attraction of
Kings Canyon, featuring ancient sandstone walls,
sculptured by the elements and rising up 100 m to a plateau of rocky domes.
park is an important conservation area, with scenic landscape of rugged ranges, rockholes and gorges, a natural refuge for the flora and fauna.
spectacular nature of the park has occupied the hearts and minds of the
traditional ‘Luritja’ custodians for more than 20,000 years.
Located southwest of Alice Springs, the park can be reached via a number of
— via the Stuart Highway, Lasseter Highway and Luritja Road (all are
— via the Stuart Highway, Ernest Giles Road (4WD essential) and Luritja
— via Larapinta Drive through the West MacDonnell National Park. A
Mereenie Loop pass is required to travel this route and is available from
the Alice Springs Tourism Information Centre, Glen Helen Resort and Kings
The last route being incorporated in the ‘Red Centre Way’ as a unique way to
experience Central Australia.
year round, the park is popular in the cooler months of April to September. For
those planning a visit, accommodation can be found within the park at the Kings
Canyon Resort and Kings Creek Station.
Overnight camping in tents or campervans is not permitted in the National Park.
There are commercial motel, resort and camping accommodation options. These are
available at Watarrka
Kings Canyon Resort and
Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern
Watarrka National Park
More information is available from the local tourist centres and Parks and
Parks and Wildlife Commission
of the Northern Territory
Alice Springs Office
Arid Zone Research Institute
Tom Hare Building
South Stuart Highway
ALICE SPRINGS NT 0870
Ph: 08 8951 8211
Watarrka National Park
Central Australian Visitor Information Centre
In summer it pays to start your walks early in the morning, as the sun and heat
can become unbearable for those not use to it, especially during the middle of
the day. Ensure you take enough water for your walk! And be prepared for flies. During certain times of the year, the
mosquitoes also play havoc.
For emergencies and safety information, visit the listed park website.
Watarrka National Park Attractions
• When Ernest Giles visited the area in
1872 he named a prominent peak (Carmichael’s Crag) after his companion Samuel
Carmichael. Carmichael’s Crag is the highest point of the George Gill Range and
sits over 900 m above sea level.
To the local Aborigines the site was a sacred women’s place and is meant to
represent a dingo mother lying down with her pups suckling.
Between the months of August and November after spring rains, the desert can be
carpeted with a vast array of native wildflowers.
These plants are prolific seeders, with seed stock laying on the ground for up
to 10 years waiting for sufficient rainfall.
Once the rains have come the seeds germinate rapidly and can flower within a
month, providing an array of colours.
• Located within Watarrka National Park, this spectacular attraction
of towering vertical walls and pockets of ‘lush’ vegetation that grow protected
in the sheltered gullies, is what many visitors come to see. One of the best
views that affords the visitor the opportunity to stare into the vastness of the
canyon is seen on ‘the Canyon Walk’. The walk rises steeply to the Canyon top
and follows the rim.
As you approach the rim, there is a narrow opening in the
rocks. It is what lies beyond, that can take your breath away. Piled upon the
baked surface of stone are clumps of crusted red rock, almost like they are
domes spun by bees. This is known as ‘The Lost City’. Walking through the
streets of ‘The Lost City’ is a step back into primeval time, marked by ancient
marine fossil etched into the rock face.
It is at the edge of the great Canyon, that you can see the sheer magnificent of
the gorge. Descending down wooden steps, you enter what is known as the ‘Garden
of Eden’, a lush garden of cycad ferns that date back to the age of dinosaurs,
river red gums and a variety of 600 different plant species.
At the head of the Canyon there is a plunge pool of water with its reflecting
light striking the Canyon wall around it. You follow the path off the platform,
relax by the waterhole, then move on across to the southern rim to continue up
the steps and on to complete the rest of the walk.
Watarrka National Park Walks
• There are a number of walking tracks,
most being well sign posted. Those considering the walks are advised to
carefully read the information provided before commencing the walks.
The Canyon Walk
This 6 km loop, takes approximately 3-4 hours, beginning with a steep
climb to the top of the Canyon. It then follows the Canyon rim before
descending to the car park. About half way along the track is the ‘Garden
of Eden’, a restful area of cooling waterholes and riverine vegetation
communities. Extreme care should be taken during the hotter months of
September to May. This walk has many steep sections and is only
recommended for those who are reasonably fit and healthy.
The Kings Creek Walk
2.6 km return walk takes approximately 1 hour. The track meanders along
Kings Creek, ending at a lookout point, before returning by the same
route. Sturdy footwear is essential. This walk has wheelchair access for
approximately half the walk, with the remainder of the walk still being
suitable for families.
22 km overnight walk traverses the top of the range from Kathleen
Springs to Kings Canyon with an entrance/exit point at Reedy Creek/Lilla.
Giles was the first white man
to explore the country west of the Overland Telegraph Line. During his first
expedition, Giles explored and named ‘The George Gill Range’. The abundant water
along the range provided a valuable refuge for Giles and his companions,
Carmichael and Robinson.
The Giles Track offers a glimpse of the conditions these early pioneers would
have faced, while taking in the surrounds from the plateau of The ‘George Gill
The 22 km Giles Track provides a link between Kings Canyon, Lilla and Kathleen
Springs. This is a relatively long day walk or an overnight trip with
recommended camping at Reedy Creek. Alternatively, access from the Lilla carpark
via Tjintjit Tjintjit Spur, allows for a day walk in either direction. The
marked track follows the spectacular southern rim of the range and crosses an
extensive plateau of sandstone domes dissected by narrow fissures and gorges.
Views to the south overlook vast sand plains which extend to the salty expanse
of Lake Amadeus, 80 km away.
You can pick up the Giles Track at Kathleen Springs, 100 m along the Kings Creek
walk or from the Kings Canyon Rim walk near Kestrel Falls.
Please contact the ranges before you start your walk for the latest information
on the track conditions.
Walkers must register with the
Overnight Walkers Registration Scheme.
• This 2.6 return walk takes about 1.5 hrs and is recommended for families and
visitors with limited mobility. The walk along a sealed track to a tranquil
spring-fed waterhole at the head of Kathleen Gorge offers a cool moist place to
sit and enjoy the areas tranquillity. There track is signed, telling the story
of centuries of Aboriginal culture and the recent cattle industry.
Ranger guided activities are also available, see the
Watarrka National Park.
• This walking trail cover a total of
223 km, that runs along the backbone of the West MacDonnell Ranges and through
the spectacular MacDonnell Range
National Park. Starting just west of Alice Springs, the trail runs through
to Mount Sonder, allowing the opportunity to experience the beauty and vastness of the landscape along the way.
Broken into a series of sections, visitors can experience anything from a one to
a three day walk, or for the more adventurous to actually do the entire trail,
billed as an energetic two-week adventure.
Walkers are advised to pick
up the appropriate pamphlet prior to attempting any section of the Larapinta trail.
For your own safety, you should register details of your walk by telephoning the