Tom was feeling a fair bit better this morning and so joined us to do the Kings Canyon Rim Walk. This is rated as one of the best short walks in Australia and we have heard it can be quite gruelling due to the heat and exposure. The walk is 6km but add 2 more when you do the detours.
It started with a steep climb straight up the canyon wall. On the way up we overtook quite a few people all of whom were huffing and puffing, while our boys scampered up and did not stop talking. They have become excellent walkers and it seems the steeper it is the better they go. The walk then goes along the northern rim, very close to the edge of the rim where there are spectacular views into and across the canyon.
We were all wary going near the edge but we did lie down on a sloping up bit to have a look over the edge. It felt a bit more like looking over a wall than right over a cliff edge, or so we had convinced ourselves. The last big rock fall was only about 80 years ago when a large chunk of the northern canyon wall fell in. We did not know this until we had got around to the southern rim and looked back. It was probably fortunate or I may have been too nervous to let any of us go anywhere near the edge.
We took a sidetrack to Cotterill’s Lookout. To get to this promontory of rock you need to cross a narrow steel bridge that spans a deep fissure in the rock. The original bridge was made of tree trucks lashed with wire and flat rocks placed on top. You could see the remains of this one down the gap that it had fallen in to. There is no way I would have been going across that one.
Returning to the main track a series of staircases and bridges took us into the gorge and to the aptly named ‘Garden of Eden’. It is a truly unique landscape. There are river red gums, cycads that are 300 to 400-years-old and permanent shady waterholes that provide a refuge for birds and other wildlife.
After a break for snacks and lollies, we returned up to the rim, this time the southern rim with views back to the cliffs of the north side where we had just been.
The walk then moves away from the cliff edge through the ‘Lost City’, a maze of weathered sandstone domes, similar to a mini version of the Bungle Bungles. Finally a much more gentle decent to the car park. We were pleasantly surprised that the walk was not as hard as we expected. I think the mild temperatures were definitely a bonus. In fact, we were a little cold, as we did not take jumpers and the wind was a touch chilling.
We had a well-earned and delicious lunch of leftovers at the sunset viewing point and then headed on the 300+km drive to Yulara. This is the base to see Uluru and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) located just outside the national park.
Soon after turning onto the Lasseter Hwy, the road that heads to Yulara, we could see Mt Connor, a 350-metre high mesa. It is reported to be the most photographed red herring of the outback. We tried to trick the kids but they were on to it.
It was another 100 kilometres before our first glimpse of Uluru. Just as in the book ‘Are we there yet?’ the driver (me) spotted it first. Everyone else had to wait for a break in the trees and a rise in the road to get their first look.
We arrived at Yulara, quite the tourist resort town and checked into the campsite. We loved our spot right in the back corner. A climb up the small sand hill behind us, and this was our view. We have found that in the bigger caravan parks they tend to put the camper trailers at the back, and usually they are the best spots with the best views. The bigger your caravan the more in the middle of everyone you are. We know which one we prefer.
Off to bed with the boys wearing almost every item of clothing. We had expected it to get cold at night in the desert and since we have been travelling the whole time in hot weather there was no need for many warm clothes. Thus, they opted for layers – thermals, tracksuits and t-shirts, as well as a couple of pairs of socks. Getting ready for bed was a process.
Special note of thanks to the boys for the photos. We lost about 100 photos from Tom’s camera in the downloads lucky the boys decided to take their cameras on the walk today.