The next day we were up early, packed our hiking packs, organised lunch and dinner and headed off to Kings Canyon. Watarrka and Kings Canyon are actually part of the George Gill Ranges and made up of Carmichael Sandstone along the lower slopes and Mereenie Sandstone making up the sheer cliffs. Their beginnings began more than 440 million years ago back when there was no ice at the poles, when sea levels were higher and Central Australia was a shallow sea. Fast forward 40 million years and the shallow sea is now a windswept plain covered in ancient sand dunes, the sea level has dropped and the climate is drier. These sand dunes are then slowly cemented together by water and eventually form the Mereenie Sandstone cliffs that we see today. Over the last 350 million years the brittle Mereenie Sandstone formed cracks which were slowly eroded away by wind, rain and flood. The crack reach down to the Carmichael Sandstone which then erodes and causes the Mereenie Sandstone to break and thus forms Kings Canyon as we know it today. Along the top of the ranges are what look like bee hive shaped rock domes, these domes are the result of erosion over vertical cracks in the sandstone which have been worn away by wind and rain to create the rounded corners we see today. This beautiful landscape is Luritja country and has a significant cultural importance to these people. There are many ancient rock carvings and paintings throughout the park, but unfortunately these are away from the visitor’s area as the custodians fear they will be damaged.
After our geology lesson we proceeded to tackle one of the walks, the infamous 6km Kings Canyon Rim Walk, with the infamous heart stopping climb at the start. We had been preparing ourselves for the worst and this time we got it!!!! We felt a little daunted as Mum was with us and not great with heights and the previous night Nik was coming back from the toilets in the dark and had decided to kick a rock and subsequently suffer from an unconfirmed broken toe. Going by the bruise, swelling and soreness we figured it was broken. So up we went and for the first 1km we went straight up for 100 metres climbing up steps that were half way up our legs!!!!!! As usual the children literally bounced up the cliff face, I’m sure they were laughing at our red, puffed faces as we hauled ourselves up over that last step.
However once we were up we were treated to the most spectacular walk I have ever been on. We were like laughing clowns at the show, mouths wide open heads turning from side to side!!! Once we snapped out of it the cameras were given a constant workout and we never let them rest till we got back to the carpark. It was the views, the height, the many vivid colors, the rock formations and the abundant plant life, it was literally everything about it that was beautiful, awe inspiring and unbelievable. At every head turn and around every rock was a photo which as I look at now doesn’t really do it any justice, it really is a place that you have to see to believe. We marvelled at the existence of this place, of how it was formed millions of years ago and just how insignificant we were walking around here. Half way through the walk we hiked through the Garden of Eden, a deep gully that has been transformed into a lush oasis filled with plants, such as the Floating Pondweed and Nardoo Ferns, as well as a still and tranquil pond of water. As we were descending back down towards the car park we suddenly began to feel the amount of kilometres we had hiked, Nik started to again feel the pain in his toe and Mum recalled her fear of heights………..we had been so caught up in the beauty that we had forgotten our initial fears and hesitations prior.
Once back at the carpark we had a little rest in the shade of one of the shelters and decided to get away from the crowds to have lunch further down the road at Kathleen Springs. After our refuel of carbs we decided to tackle one last walk to Kathleen Springs, a 2.5km return easy walk to cool down our burning and jelly like muscles. Kathleen Springs is a dry river bed that weaves its way into the George Gill Ranges, finishing at a deep waterhole. This area is an important spiritual and sacred site for the Luritja people who have lived here since the time of creation, or Dreamtime. They say the ripple rock evident in this gorge is the work of a sprit being called Inturrkunya, a carpet snake, who travelled through this gorge, resting here for a while before moving on. The waterhole itself is said to be protected by the spirit of the Rainbow Serpent who lives in the water. The Luritja people are careful not to anger the Serpent as without its protection the waterhole will dry up. The walk was easy and the waterhole beautiful, but we were tired so were glad to make it back to the car and head back to camp to lounge around and rest our weary legs, marvelling at what we had seen today and letting the excitement build up about what we were about to see in the next couple of days…………. The next day as we were packing up a wild dingo got quite curious as to our set up and wandered in out of the bush to check us out!!!! After we said goodbye to him we head off for the next exciting destination on our OZLAP……….