The Perks of Kings Canyon

In Kings Canyon we got a powered site, and the first thing I plugged in was our heater. I didn’t turn it on—daytime temperatures were a comfortable 20 degrees Celsius—but I just liked knowing it was ready for the cold night.

At $50 a night, we paid a premium for a powered site at the Kings Canyon Resort, but after three days in the Uluru overflow paddock I was ready for convenience. Our site had a gorgeous view of the canyon, but it was our proximity to the toilet block that made me emotional.

It’s a good day when you can reach the bathroom within twenty seconds.

Kings Canyon from Resort
And right behind me, toilets and showers *tears up*

Kings Canyon was busy, but nowhere near as hectic as Uluru. Many visitors don’t make the four-hour drive from Yulara along the Red Centre Way, but since time is on our side we went for it.

We spotted a few dingoes and wild dogs trotting around the campground, but no babies went missing so it was all good. Our neighbors even gave us a bowl of homemade chili olives, which we immediately stuffed into our mouths.

We were truly living the high life.

The main event at Kings Canyon is the rim walk, a trail that is pitched as a must-do for visitors. The first 100 meters are a steep, arduous climb, but once you’re up there things do level out somewhat.

Trail signs Kings Canyon
My recommendation: follow the blue arrow.

Thanks to the early mornings we tend to have while camping, we were hiking by 8:25am. The wind was so strong I thought I was going to go sailing into the sandstone domes on either side of me.

The domes themselves were once sand dunes; over the past 400 million years the wind blew the dunes relentlessly across the plain. Between the wind and the silica-rich water trickling through, the sand was compacted down and cemented into stone, creating the red cross-bedded ‘beehive’ structures we see today.

Landscape of Kings Canyon
The beehives of Kings Canyon.
Kings Canyon Red Centre Way
Inside a dome. Nature is CRAZY.

During the first couple of kilometers there was no canyon in sight and I wondered if I’d gotten my facts wrong. I saw no sign of the sheer cliff walls I’d seen photos of; maybe that was somewhere else. Maybe the rim walk was around the softly sweeping valley that lay out before us.

Then, BAM. The money shot. We stepped into a clearing and saw a deep canyon dropping off before us, with only one little sign warning people not to go too close to the cliff edge. I complied, mostly.

Woman at edge of Kings Canyon
And that is as close as I was willing to get.

There are two offshoots to the main hike. Each is only 600 meters return and since you’re already up there, you really ought to do them. If my amateur opinion isn’t enough, let me provide you with some evidence:

Cotterill lookout NT
Offshoot #1: Cotterill’s Lookout. Jared’s standing on a beehive that looks into the drop off.
water Kings Canyon
Offshoot #2: The Garden of Eden, a peaceful waterhole in the canyon’s valley.

The trail takes you down into the valley (there are, thankfully, stairs) and back up the other side, where to my boundless amazement, the views of the canyon are even better.

Kings Canyon NT
Jaw officially dropped.

It wasn’t long after this that Jared twisted his ankle and it blew up like a balloon, which made the last 1-2 kilometers challenging but not impossible. All up, we completed 7.2km in 2 hours and 40 minutes.

When we got back to the resort I ran into the bar and got a few generous scoops of ice from the bartender. Jared cracked into the first aid kit and I ducked into the shop for an overpriced 12-pack of Nurofen; he’s okay now but we were worried for a while.

The best news, of course, was that back at camp he didn’t have to hobble far to get to the bathroom.

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The Perks of Kings Canyon: Many people don't make the trip here from Uluru, but it is well worth your time.


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