After spending several days in the Red Centre, it had been hot dusty and exciting, but we were getting quite tired too, this very early morning yeilded a beautiful sunrise, we couldn’t shoot, but such an incredible day. A year or two ago, a photographer was killed when hit by lighting on Heartbreak Hill, just proves it really is rugged and remote and dangerous.
This was actually our last full day in the Center, so I am kind of working backwards. We were picked up in the middle of the night, 4:30 am, for the 4 hour drive out to Kings Canyon, which is part of the Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory. Sitting at the western end of the George Gill Range, it is 323 km south west of Alice Springs and 1,316 km south of Darwin. The walls of Kings Canyon are over 100 meters high, with Kings Creek at the bottom. The first European to see Kings Canyon was Ernest Giles during his 1872 expedition to the North of Australia.
Typically, the most amazing sunrise we had seen to date happened that morning, as we were traversing the landscape in a luxury coach, which was not stopping for photographs, we could only look out the window and enjoy the sights for ourselves.
When we finally did arrived, there were two walks we could do, (There are actually three walks at Kings Canyon, but we did not get given the third option). The two km (return), one hour Kings Creek Walk, which follows the bottom of the gorge to a viewing platform, with views of the canyon walls above, and then retraced our steps back again, this is the walk which Moth and I did. The six km (loop) Kings Canyon Rim Walk traces the top of the canyon and takes three to four hours to complete. A steep climb at the beginning of the walk, which locals call “Heartbreak Hill” (or “Heart Attack Hill”, due to its steepness), takes visitors up to the top, with spectacular views of the gorge below and of the surrounding landscape. This walk looked beyond our fitness level, I had been pre-warned by on-line friends and travelers, that it is a walk from hell!
The easier creek walk was stunning with majestic ghost gum tress shading the valley floor from the harsh sun beating done from above. Unfortunately the creek was bone dry, it must be truly stunning when running. Surrounded on all sides by beautiful rock walls, with native birds flying, swooping and calling to us from every angle, but rarely seen. It was a leisurely walk (unlike the Rim Walk) and we returned back to the bus and Kings Creek Resort (A pub and camping ground really) with enough time for a Helicopter flight over the Canyon.
Yes you heard me correctly, I got up in a helicopter, Moth could not believe it either! I was beyond scared and at the end had difficulty letting got of the grab handles which I had been holding so tight the whole flight, and had to be helped off the helicopter! But it was amazing and I have video footage, shame about the window reflection, however if the door or window had been removed, I may not have gotten in; it was a catch 22.
After the helicopter flight, I was in need a good stiff drink, so we headed to the bar for a few drinks, then a leisurely lunch and to watch the traffic pass by (we saw 1 truck, 2 dingoes and a few flies!!) Obviously very outback, off the beaten track here folks! Once the rim walkers returned (after several hours), we piled back into the bus and headed the 4 hours back to Ayers Rock. We stopped briefly at some salt flats for photos and then Curtain Springs Cattle Station for a quick look around and a cold drink or a cup of tea.
It was a long, exhausting day, but completely worth it, I would love to come back in the wet season to see the Creek running and the Canyon in it’s fill glory. We had crystal clear blue skies and the temp was approx 24C…….pretty much as it was our entire trip.
Til next time, happy snapping,