Pulling into Kings Creek Cattle and Camel Station in the mid-morning, I wondered what would possess a family to setup life on a massive 1,800 square kilometres of land in the middle of nowhere. Yet there is a sense of excitement of visiting this outback station, with a chance of quad-biking the ochre red tracks, riding camels or taking scenic helicopter rides over the surrounding mountain ranges.
Fitted with a helmet (wear long pants and clothes that you don’t mind getting dusty), some instructions on changing gears, accelerating and stopping, our small group is ready to head off. The path guides us past gates and along fence lines (after all, this is an operating cattle and camel station) through the scenic red desert of Kings Creek Station weaving among mulga scrub, desert oaks and Spinifex grasses.
The bikes feature impressive acceleration (a great feeling in the dry desert air) and churns through the dusty tracks and sharp corners with ease as our group heads up a small rise for a superb vista overlooking the George Gill Ranges. We keep our eyes peeled for feral camels, dingoes, kangaroos and desert birds (including colourful parrots) while the guide gives us small snippets about outback life for a stockman in Australia’s Red Centre.Forty kilometres south of the majestic Kings Canyon, this was a property with NO infrastructure (no electricity, no water, no roads, no buildings, no fences, no telephone) when settled by the Conways just thirty years ago.
Today, Kings Creek is a highly successful oasis in the Red Centre of Australia with accommodation (basic camping, luxury camping and rooms) and activities for visitors while still operating as a cattle and camel property. The station is the largest exporter of wild camels in Australia and sells camels for live export to the Middle East (for breeding, racing and meat) and also for the domestic market.
Returning back towards the property near the station’s airstrip (used for medical emergencies and some visitors), we surprise a group of feral camels herded and being readied for export along with a wild horse (brumby) luxuriating in a refreshing waterhole.
As a major stopping point for those heading between Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Alice Springs, the café does a roaring trade with tantalising offerings such as damper (bush bread made from just flour and water, and occasionally beer), soup and pies when I eye camel burgers. A little like beef but considerably leaner (nearly all the camel fat is stored in its hump!), cooks seem to pep it up with herbs and sauces to boost its flavour. After a dusty quad-bike ride, the camel burger goes down a treat.
Kings Creek Station is a wonderful stop near Kings Canyon and makes for a welcome oasis with activities to experience the wilderness of Australia’s outback among an operating cattle and camel property, and makes for an ideal match with the superb Kings Canyon Rim Walk.
The author travelled as a guest of Tourism NT and Plus7.