Today was our last day of the trip and it was going to be predominately a travel day but Jodie had one more hike up her sleeve and possibly the best one in my opinion.
Once again the voice of John Williamson filled our ears at the crack of dawn singing “Give me a home among the gum trees.” Sluggishly we took down the camp, had breakfast and were herded into the bus. We were headed to Watarraka National Park to climb King’s Canyon. A three and a half hour hike starting at 7:30 in the morning with the Heart Attack stairs, a 100m upwards journey. A good jump start for your lungs and heart first thing in the morning. The picture doesn’t do the stairs justice and I was huffing and puffing by the top.
With all the hikes in the area, they have warnings, advice and time guidelines for all of them. For some like the Valley of the Winds and Kings Canyon at certain temperatures the walk is closed or not advised to be started after 11am. Kings Canyon was a 3.5hr hike and we would be done by 11:30. Safe.
Once we reached the top we walked the length of the Canyon. Made of sandstone, the Canyon is the deep orange of the Outback. Our first stop was the the “Amphitheatre” which was so cool! Not really an Amphitheatre of course but aptly named. It is a cliff edge with a facing cliff opposite where the echo is perfect! Everyone has gone into caves or hollow spaces and yelled waiting for the echo to bounce back. Even Peter Pan does it. This however is the only place I have ever been where it works like a charm. We lined up along the edge and yelled “hello”. A few seconds later a perfect hello loud and clear reverberated back to us. It was like child’s play and kept us going for a good bit. We saw a fossil named Harry and the imprint of a river bed floor from long long ago. Hard to imagine the land before us being a flat dessert with rivers and lakes dotting the landscape.
The next stop in Kings Canyon was nicknamed “The Garden of Eden”. Also well named. It is an oasis in the middle of the canyon with its own climate. Trees, bushes, birds and a stream which runs into a giant lake at the end. We were told there is even a waterfall in the wet season. It is seems almost magical and out of place. It is also a lot cooler than the air at the top of the canyon so it was a nice place to stop, relax and have our snack. Apples and chocolate chip cookies.
The last thing along our route, other than lying on the cliffs edge at the highest point of the canon to look down. Quite the site, I am sure, watching 24 of us slink on our way on our bellies to the cliff edge to look down and for someone who dances on the edge of being scared of heights it was a long way down! Anyways, the main attraction before this was the domes, nicknamed the Loat City. Rock domes that look like you are staring at an ancient village frozen in stone. The Luritja people of the area believe that the domes are the young Kuninga men who travelled across the landscape during the dreamtime.
I could have spent all day in the canyon. It is a beautiful place and one which I wouldn’t say no to visiting again. That was the last real stop of the tour other than lunch which was in a small campsite and a muddle of sandwich fillings. My problem is that when I have all kinds of options in front of me to put into a sandwich I want to try them all. Therefore my sandwich became a mayo, lettuce, cucumber, beet root, cheese, salami and ham sandwich. It is why I take forever at New York Style delis such as a the Pig and Heifer in Dublin. These guys have two stores near Trinity. One on Pearse and one on the Quays and know how to make a mean delicious New York style deli sandwich!
Back in the red centre, we hunkered down on the bus for the very long journey back to Alice Springs blasting music, singling along and all wishing we had another day or so together to explore the Outback.