Around Australia Week 18 – Kings Canyon and Uluru

Kings Canyon is a truly spectacular place. We stayed at Kings Canyon Resort, with the George Gill Range in the background; what a view to have in your backyard! There were a few dingoes wandering around the park. They didn’t cause us (or anyone else) any trouble as far as we could see… but we were careful to close the gates at the entrance to the amenities; it could have been a bit off-putting to find a dingo in your shower cubicle!

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There are several walks to choose from when you visit Kings Canyon. We opted to do the Rim Walk. It was truly awe-inspiring. It’s amazing, really, to think that it’s possible for people to actually climb to the top of the canyon and then walk around the rim, looking down on others who are exploring the canyon (or, when you get to the Garden of Eden, looking up at those silhouetted against the sky).

Take note, though, that you do need to be pretty fit to take on this walk. It’s 6.5 ks of fairly challenging physical activity. Actually ‘rim walk’ doesn’t really describe it: this walk is constant bouldering, and there’s a 500-step climb to get to the top first. (And then you have to get down again!) It’s not surprising that there are emergency phones stationed in a few places; plenty of people in the past have found that they’ve taken on too much – or have slipped and injured an ankle.

Don’t let this put you off. While I wouldn’t like to tackle anything harder than this walk (by the end of it I had jelly legs from constant climbing: up steps and over boulders) it was, in my opinion, worth doing. I’d do it again. BUT… do take water and a few energy snacks at least, and/or lunch (the Garden of Eden is a beautiful, peaceful spot to eat lunch) and stop for a break every now and then.

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The day after doing the Rim Walk, we made our way to Kings Creek Station to do the camel safari. I was a bit ambivalent about hopping on a camel’s back (hadn’t heard great things about their tempers!) but it seemed like one of those things you should try at least once – so off we went, ambling through the desert on camels (very sedate, as it turned out!)

There are other things you can do at Kings Creek Station, and if you plan to fit camels into your itinerary somewhere else (like Broome) you might prefer to try something different, like a Quad Bike ride or helicopter tour… or join the staff at the Stock Camp, where you can watch them handling camels and horses and find out how the Conway family built the station from the original tin shack to the existing business. This is a working camel station, and you’ll be surprised when you find out the largely untapped potential of the thousands of wild camels in this area.

Our trip to Kings Creek Station was a day excursion from the caravan park at Kings Canyon, but you can actually stay at the Station – in cabins or at the campground.

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We stayed two nights at the Kings Canyon Resort, and one unexpected bit of fun was an evening at the Outback BBQ and Grill being entertained by the Roadies. Petrea is a pleasure to watch on the stage. She took care to involve as many people in the audience as possible, including the kids. Often, people in the audience are not willing to join in on stage because it’s a bit threatening to be ‘on show’… but Petrea was obviously aware of this, and didn’t ask people to do anything they couldn’t easily handle. The music was lively and everyone had a great time. If you have a chance to catch The Roadies… do it!

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After Kings Canyon, we moved on to iconic Uluru, staying at the Ayers Rock Campground at Yulara. This resort has a wide range of accommodation options, and a small shopping centre with a restaurant and a café, a newsagent, post office and a supermarket along with a few other retail outlets. But of course, you’re not here for the shopping; you’re here to see the famous Rock!

On the road, we’ve found that people have mixed reactions to Uluru. Some are overawed, and find it an amazing experience, seeing that majestic red rock towering over all else in the middle of the desert. Others look at it, shrug, and decide that it’s over-hyped. There’s probably no way to predict what your reaction will be until you get there – and this might also depend on your mood, the weather, the company you keep, and what else you have seen that compares.

We always find that the reality is different to photos, or even documentaries. We were struck by the many fissures and crevices on the Rock; somehow we’d got the impression that the surface was much smoother than it actually was. The colour is just as impressive in reality as it is in photos (probably more so, because you can see it changing as the sun moves across the sky and shadows fall in different places – and the colour changes when the sun goes down).

We also enjoyed doing the Liru walk (there are several walks of varying lengths to choose from) and finding out about some of the traditional bush ways. Although Rob and I grew up reading history books full of information about how Aboriginal tribes hunted and gathered, it’s quite different to hear about it from someone who has actually lived it, and can demonstrate things like making ‘kiti’ (bush glue to hold together tools and implements) and how women held a basket on their heads while they went off collecting roots and grubs. As for spear throwing… well, we might leave that one alone! Rob seemed to get the general idea fairly quickly, but my efforts were abysmal. (Good thing it’s not traditionally something in which women are supposed to excel anyway!)

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At the Yulara caravan park we met up with Helen, travelling solo with her Adria. Helen is well set up for both caravan parks and free camping, with solar power and an inverter to run her laptop and other appliances. She has other bits and pieces to make life on the road work better for her, ranging from a new LED outdoor lighting strip along the outside of the van to shadecloth that can do double duty as a wall/extra roof panel for her awning.

We spent a pleasant happy hour (or two!) chatting to Helen and other travellers at the park. We’re staying in touch via email, and where possible we’ll catch up again!

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