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 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.
For those with the stamina, the iconic Kings Canyon Rim Walk is a six kilometre circuit that takes you down into the Garden of Eden, before ascending to panoramic views over the surrounding landscape. The walk also takes in the weathered domes of ‘The Lost City’. Keep your eyes peeled for the variety of wildlife that live in this region.
The first 500 steps of the Rim Walk is the most challenging, but the views from the top is worth the ascent, as it really take your breath away. There is no rush to ascend the steps, so you can take your time, but make sure you have plenty of water, especially in summer.
The Rim Walk will take approximately 3 to 4 hours and is best attempted at sunrise before the temperature rises. Also be safe and stay at least five metres away from the edge at all times.
Garden of Eden
Along the Rim Walk you descend down into the Garden of Eden. This waterhole holds special significance for the local Aboriginal people, the traditional owners of the area consider this an important men’s sacred place where their Dreaming stories can be shared in private. As this is a sacred site, you are not permitted to enter the water.
The waterhole is also important for the local wildlife.
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.
Top 5 Things To Do When Visiting Kings Canyon
For those doing their own tour or using one of the tour groups that visit Kings Canyon, following are 5 suggested activities:
- Kings Canyon Rim Walk
— Early morning is the best time to do the walk, especially in the hotter months. As you walk across the top of the Canyon, you will get breathtaking views.
- Scenic Helicopter Tour
— To fully appreciate the true scale and grandeur of the canyon, a short or longer helicopter flight is a must do.
- Evening Dinners
— The resort offered some unique dining experience by firelight, exclusive to the Kings Canyon Resort. Previously called Sounds of Firelight, replaced with Under a Desert Moon, contact the resort or visit their website for current details. Limited numbers and seasonal – April to October. www.kingscanyonresort.com.au
- Tours – Kings Creek Station
— Offering a number of activities by which to view and experience the rugged outback, enjoying the spectacular scenery of wild bushland and red sand dunes. Check their website for details: kingscreekstation.com.au
Check out the government website Watarrka National Park for information and downloadable documents.
Drinking water is a key consideration and walkers are advised to carry at least 1 litre of water per hour per adult during summer (the Rim Walk takes approximately 3 to 4 hours). If you are planning extended walks during the warmer periods, then more water is required.
For those planning to do the Rim Walk during the warmer and summer period (October – March), it is strongly advised to commence the walk as early as possible ie 5 am. Temperatures during summer can exceed 40 Degrees Celsius (104 Degrees Fahrenheit).
Images © Greg Sully / Images © Ausemade Pty Ltd