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Often referred to as Australia's Grand Canyon, Kings Canyon is a dramatic looking gorge about 1 km in length and an escarpment (steep rock ramparts). It is one of most spectacular attractions in central Australia.
Kings Canyon, showing some of its many plant species, including a ghost gum tree.
Photo: Ueli Fahrni.
Kings Canyon is located within the 106,000 hectare Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory, approximately 300 km from Alice Springs and 310 km from Uluru (Ayers Rock). It lies at the western end of the George Gill Range.
The Kings Canyon Rim Walk
The main activity for visitors is a walk up and around King Canyon's upper rim. This walk is about 6 km long and takes about 3-4 hours.
The walk begins with a steep climb to the plateau at the top of the canyon. Once there, you can begin walking around the rim of the gorge (this walk is normally done in a clockwise direction).
The walk around the rim offers numerous fantastic views of the gorge below (including Kings Canyon's 200 metre high southern wall) and of the landscape beyond (you can see as far as Uluru on a fine day).
The next part of this walk leads through the Lost City, a maze of giant weathered domes (which remind one of the Bungle Bungle rock formations in Western Australia).
Next you climb down into the Garden of Eden, a chasm filled with palms and many other plants that is located at the head of the canyon. If you have time, there is a nearby waterhole where you can take a cooling dip.
The final step of the walk is down a gentle slope to the carpark.
The Kings Creek Walk
If you have less time and are not so physically fit, you can take the Kings Creek Walk. This walk traces the bottom of the Kings Canyon gorge by following the Kings Creek that wends its way along there. At the end of the walk, you will find a platform where you will have great views of the canyon walls towering above. This walk takes 1-2 hours.
Flora and Fauna
For the nature lover there is much to enjoy. There are more than 600 different plant species in the Watarrka National Park and it is said that this area has a higher level of plant diversity than any other arid area in Australia. In the Garden of Eden there is a wonderful variety of plants, including palms. Tall ghost gums grow beside Kings Creek that flows along the floor of Kings Canyon. Along the walls of Kings Canyon grows a bushy palm called the McDonald Ranges cycad that is unique to the ranges area of central Australia.
Some of the many bird species that can be seen during a walk along the rim of the Kings Canyon include the Spinifex Pigeon, the Zebra Finch, the Grey-headed Honeyeater, the Dusky Grasswren, the Black-breasted Buzzard and the Peregrine Falcon.
Tips for Visitors
Kings Canyon offers the visitor fantastic opportunities for bushwalking and photography. You can visit independently or take a guided tour. Guided tours are available from Parks and Wildlife rangers. There are also guided tours of the Aboriginal culture of this area. Finally scenic flights are available.
It should be kept in mind that part of the Kings Canyon gorge is an Aboriginal sacred site. Therefore one should refrain from leaving the walking tracks in that area.
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Author: David Paul Wagner
(David Paul Wagner on Google+)