We arrived at Yulara caravan park in the early afternoon and tomorrow we wanted to do Kings Canyon walk. Yulara is a small town located outside Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The main purpose of this township is to serve tourists visiting Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
An impressive Ayers Rock Resort provides all essential services to the visitors, having shops, art galleries, conference facilities and an outdoor day spa.
Uluru still hidden behind the smoke
It turns out that the bad visibility was caused by the smoke from fires that raged in this area a few weeks ago. Therefore, Uluru does not have this characteristic red appearance – the smoke spoils the whole effect.
We had to add Uluru to our bucket list and wait for a good opportunity to visit this place again.
Kings Canyon Holiday Park
Next day in the morning we left Yulara and drove to Kings Canyon Holiday Park. That was our base for the next day adventure – Kings Canyon walk.
While driving, half way through, we felt that the weather was changing. It was very hot (42 degrees), no wind, but we could see storm clouds in the distance. To make matters worse, it soon turned out that we were going straight into the rain. As a result the car and trailer were washed.
Kings Canyon Holiday Park is situated, very picturesquely at the foot of Watarrka National Park. Our spot was among eucalyptus trees that smell stunning at this temperature. We were ready to go on the trail immediately as the views attracted us magnetically.
Unfortunately we dragged the storm with us and it was impossible to do it. The visibility dropped by almost half and the ridges of the mountains we admired before were only barely visible.
Neighbours from Sydney
Fortunately, our camp was next to a very nice people from Sydney. They are on the second lap of Australia. They made their first go around the block 23 years ago (I hope we can do it, but sooner).
We started talking, exchanging some travel anecdotes, sharing places worth visiting. We took out photos. They had a brilliant photo of how a big crocodile eats a smaller one.
Thanks to this, the evening passed in a pleasant atmosphere, despite the unfavorable weather outside the window.
Recommended equipment for the Red Centre
- GPS Navigator or compass
- Maxtrax – if you get bogged, you can use it for additional traction
- Tyre Deflator – deflate tyres quickly when going on dirt or 4WD
- Air Compressor – inflate tyres quickly after going back on bitumen (we use MM)
- Tyre Repair Kit – to fix the tyre by yourself when you don’t have access to the tyre shop (we use Oztrail)
- Shovel – if you get bogged, better have it
- UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency
- Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road
- High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks
- Fuel funnel with water filter – additional protection when fueling up in dodgy places
- Additional fuel canisters
Kings Canyon Walk
Next day, the weather wasn’t perfect, but at least it wasn’t raining. The temperature in the morning was not very hot so we decided it is time to hit the trail!
Today we were carried to the main attraction of this region, that is, we went for Kings Canyon walk.
Kings Canyon walk started from the car park and it did not seem to be encouraging for us at the beginning. The canyon was hidden by nearby rocks so we did not know what to expect. The first part of the walk was a steep climbing 500 stone stairs.
Nell was complaining as in the last three weeks we did not do much walking and she was not used to it anymore. However once we got up to the top, the walk had eased and was better and better later on.
I shoot hundreds of photos because I have never seen such views before. It is a pity that there was not even one ray of the sun. The rocks were beige, and they should glow gold in the sun.
Wandering around the mountain peaks and domes was fascinating. Below, instead of the river flowing here millions of years ago, now a river of trees ‘flows’.
Again, we had the impression that the dinosaurs were about to come out from behind the rocks. Nell was just peeking around the bushes, hoping that a dino would be lurking somewhere there.
The rocks among which we walked were once desert dunes. The wind was moving the sand in different directions for a long time. Eventually, however, everything turned into rocks.
We could appreciate different rock formations and not far later, the canyon had revealed its magnificence. The views were really spectacular as the canyon walls were high and straight with many abysses.
It was not difficult up there to fall off the cliff…
Garden of Eden
Somewhere in the middle of Kings Canyon walk we took a small deviation down the gorge to a place called ‘Garden of Eden’. It ends at the waterhole where we could have our lunch surrounded by the canyon. The rest part of the walk was climbing up on wooden stairs to get to the other side of the canyon.
After that we could still see the canyon wall but this time from the other side. Later on, the path was going slowly down and after 4 hours we were down at the car park.
Kings Canyon walk was perhaps around 6 km, but there were little deviation from its main path here and there, so it took us that much time to finish. Generally it was an easy walk with the exception of its first part where we had to climb up.
Definitely it was worth going there. We had a great time again!
We set off early in the morning to conquer the West MacDonnell ranges. We chose a 177 km Mereenie Road which is a dirt road leading through picturesque and less frequented areas.
We heard that this loop road was badly corrugated and difficult to drive. We couldn’t agree, because the road was good and the drive exciting. We passed a mountainous country and could see beautiful landscapes.
On the right, we had a view of the mountains almost all the way, on the left empty spaces. We also had the opportunity to spot wild horses.
They were so beautiful that it was almost unreal. They grazed peacefully at the foot of the mountains. I started to come closer, but then one of them began to watch me closely, and that weakened my eagerness to get too close to them.
After that we met wild horses twice and each time they gave me a feeling of unrestrained freedom. Cool. We wanted to spend the night in the Aboriginal town of Hermannsburg.
It used to be a former settlement of German missionaries. Unfortunately, this place was not in its best shape and we decided not to stop there for the night and go directly to Alice Springs.
On the way through Western MacDonnells we stopped at Standley Chasm. I wanted to see it and compare it with Echidna Chasm from Bungle Bungles.
There was a small, 30 minutes return walk. The chasm’s best viewing time is around noon when the sun shines on the walls creating magnificent contrasts.
We were there around 3pm and all rocks were in shade already. The chasm was short, maybe 50 metres, so in comparison to Echidna Chasm was not so spectacular. It was beautiful, but we were expecting more.
Alice Springs again - this time a shortstop
Doing Kings Canyon walk the day before and then a long drive through Western MacDonnells made us really tired.
After arriving at Alice Springs we decided to rest after the hardships of the journey.
This time we experienced Alice Springs from a different perspective. It was hot and temperatures were over 30 degrees every day.
We also got in touch with the guys from the Great Central Road who we helped. Coincidentally, the next day there was a rugby World Cup final and they were from New Zealand so Marius said they could watch it together.
So, the next night they went to the pub and had a ‘couple’ of beers while watching rugby. New Zealand won, so everyone was happy. It was a different experience for Marius as, so far, he was not interested in this sport, but now this could change.
On Sunday we got pancakes for breakfast served by the caravan park staff.
We also planned to go to Anzac Hill to see the sunset but I think we were all tired so ended up not going.
On top of that, the weather got hot and very lazy. We lounged and watched the birds. Nell socialized with whom she fell into, so by now everyone knows her by name.
Next day our plan was to continue our longest Australia shortcut and hit the dirt again. Plenty Highway was a dirt road and quickest way to get to Mount Isa. We had 830 km to drive.
The plan was to reach Mount Isa in two days. We checked on the internet and Plenty Highway was open. Although there were severe fires two weeks ago, everything was already under control.