Kings Canyon Rockfall

Rockfalls highlight the striated colours of Kings Canyon

Soaring over 270 metres from the red desert sands of Australia’s Red Centre, the magnitude of King Canyon’s sheer rock faces is breathtaking. Carved by water and time, the towering russet and golden walls and mysterious rounded pancake domes are accessible via a memorable half-day rim walk.

A tough rocky staircase opens Kings Canyon Rim Walk

A steep rocky staircase opens KIngs Canyon Rim Walk

After initially staggering up a natural sandstone staircase to get from the canyon floor to the rim, the six kilometre Kings Canyon Rim Walk is a comfortable walk on flat rocky ground that skirts the shadowy depths of the gorge. Following a set path marked by blue diamond signposts (and they are needed), walkers are guided through Priscilla’s Crack, a path between rock walls through a veritable city of rock formations, weathered stone, desert plants and sheer canyon walls.

Kings Canyon Priscillas Crack

Priscilla’s Crack weaves a path through wonderful rock formations

After half an hour the first main lookout is reached though this is only a starter for what is to come. A short detour along Cotterill’s Lookout Trailleads to the most memorable panoramic views, the traversing sun and shadows casting a continually changing lightshow of rustic earthy colours. Patches of white rock are indicators of rock falls with a brave glimpse over the edge showing huge boulders, flaked off like honeycomb.

Rock walls appear polished and reflect and intense red in the sun's glare

Rock walls appear polished and reflect and intense red in the sun’s glare

Kings Canyon Sheer Rock Walls

Kings Canyon Wall are a geologist’s dream

Like a verdant oasis, the Garden of Eden contains waterholes and ancient plants

Like a verdant oasis, the Garden of Eden contains waterholes and ancient plants

A second detour down a wooden staircase leads through a rock chasm to the idyllic Garden of Eden, an oasis of waterholes, ancient ferns, cycads, tiny flowering plants and stunted tortured trees eking out their existence in the harsh desert surrounds and a botanic reminder of an ancient rainforest in place millennia ago.

A sea of bee-hive like rock formations called the Lost City

A sea of bee-hive like rock formations called the Lost City

The walk swings along the east rim of the canyon past superb stratified rock, warped into strange angles in parts through the Earth’s moods, movements and pressure. Like geological versions of bee-hives, layered sandstone domes weathered over the centuries line the route. Resembling the living quarters of an ancient civilization, the domes are aptly named Lost City.

Spinifex Pigeon hunts for meagre offerings in Kings Canyon

Spinifex Pigeon hunts for meagre offerings in Kings Canyon

Spinifex Pigeonsaccompany walkers with their stunning faces – scarlet eye mask, vertical russet crest and black, grey and white head – strikingly contrasted to their ochre red body camouflaging into the surrounding rock.

Remotely situated over 450 kilometres south of Alice Springs and over 300 kilometres north of Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kings Canyon is an ideal stopping off point between the two major sights of Australia’s Red Centre. Kings Canyon is served by a nearby resort and a variety of accommodation and activities at Kings Creek Station.

Kings Canyon West Wall Panorama

Vista of Kings Canyon western wall

While the walk is more than fine for anyone of moderate fitness levels, the country can reach dizzying temperatures in the warmer months and there is no water on route, so take plenty with you and plan to walk early in the day. There are four emergency phones on the walk should any serious difficulties arise.

The Kings Canyon Rim Walk is a lesser known highlight of any adventure to Australia’s Red Centre. Far less familiar than the famous red monolith to its south, Kings Canyon is an awe-inspiring location and walk crowned by one superb vista after another of huge red and white rock cliffs and startling formations.

Tips

In the summer months, the day temperatures can reach 45°C (over 110°F), the maximum often being reached mid afternoon. Walk early in the day and note the likely maximum temperature on the display board before departing.

Take plenty of water with you. There is none on route.

The edges of the canyon are left natural and are unprotected which I really like. Don’t get too close – it is a long way down!!

The King Creek Walk stays on the valley floor for those who want to experience Kings Canyon without the efforts of a half day hike.

Turn the walk into a picnic and eat in the atmospheric Garden of Eden, around half way on the journey.

The author travelled as a guest of Tourism NT and Plus7.

Visit the NT Checklist website for a chance to win a trip to Australia’s Red Centre.

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Welcome to Travel Wonders
My name is Mark and I’m a keen traveller. In fact, over the last 25 years, I’ve travelled to every continent and over 80 countries. This blog is about the most memorable destinations – the places I regard as the travel wonders of the world. I’m also a keen photographer, and have taken nearly all the photos you’ll see. During my travels, I’ve met some incredible people, seen inspiring places, viewed extraordinary wildlife and scenery and had some amazing experiences, and I’m writing these stories not only to entertain but primarily to inspire others to discover their own travel wonders.
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