Kings Canyon and Rainbow Valley

Trip Start Apr 05, 2011
Trip End Nov 15, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Wednesday, June 13, 2012

We said our farewells before driving out onto the Oodnadatta Track past the William Creek Hotel bound for Coober Pedy leaving a trail of dust in our wake as we made our way across Anna Creek Station. With the Finke Desert Races taking place over the weekend we were keen to get north and take advantage of the opportunity to experience this unique event.

We spent our first night at Cadney Park, out the back of the roadhouse, with so many people heading to Finke the place was buzzing.  (Ironically we found ourselves once again camped beside an air strip!)  The following morning we continued along the Stuart Highway to Erldunda by which time we were both feeling poorly, this put paid to our plans of watching any of the Finke Races as all we could do was check into the park behind the roadhouse then sleep and rest until we felt well enough to continue.  (It was later diagnosed as the flu.)

A couple of days later feeling marginally better we moved out to the Kings Canyon Resort in the Watarrka National Park.  It was a lovely park with dingoes prowling through the sites in search of an easy feed.  (No baby jokes please!!!) After dark they all joined in a chorus howling at intervals throughout the night.  We did a couple of shorter walks building our strength back up for the Kings Canyon Rim Walk. 

The Rim Walk starts with a 500 step climb, feeling a little daunted when we first confronted them, in no time we had reached the top and sighed with relief!  The views over the surrounding landscape were well worth it with the spectacular blood red rocks glowing as the light danced off the steep sheer walls.

We walked along a ridge and through dome like sandstone features, similar to those of the Bungle Bungles.  It was both a scenically and physically impressive walk with a variety of terrain and intensity.  Having made our way between and over the domes we were finally delivered to a lookout which afforded fabulous views across and into the canyon.  Here we were now standing atop the mighty sheer cliff tops which we had been gazing up to the previous day. 

Rejoining the main track we followed it down the side of the canyon, across a bridge and along the side of a creek which flowed along the canyon floor to the Garden of Eden.  A rocky trail, we were up and down with a few steep stairs along the way, however at the end we were rewarded with a gorgeous waterhole.  Surrounded by lush green foliage, it was the perfect tranquil setting in which to sit for a time soaking up the serenity.

Back on the move again we climbed the stairs up the canyon wall and soon found ourselves on the opposite side of the canyon.  Looking back across at the sandstone domes we had earlier traversed and down into the green oasis of the canyon floor we were really taken by the natural beauty that surrounded us.

The walk continued along the ridge top and around to the south eastern rim where we were once again looking back across the canyon to the sheer cliff tops atop which we stood only an hour or so earlier. The view of the sheer sides of the canyon walls had us spellbound, as did the amazing colours being beamed back at us in the changing light of the day.

It was another steady climb out as we gradually descended back down to the canyon floor.  It was one of the best walks we have ever done, offering diversity in terrain, levels of difficulty along with breathtaking views and scenery.

We left Kings Canyon having thoroughly enjoyed our time and feeling exhilarated from the rim walk.  By the time we had rejoined the Stuart Highway we were really over the bitumen and keen to hit the gravel again.  A little detour off to Rainbow Valley was the perfect solution.

The clouds were building, getting darker by the minute and starting to hang low in the sky, with over 20kms of gravel road ahead of us we wondered if we were doing the right thing as we turned off the highway and headed east bouncing along the track.

As soon as we caught a glimpse of Rainbow Valley we had confirmation that the gamble had been worth it.  A massive wall oozing colour and texture filled our senses, made all the more dramatic by the now charcoal sky.  The reds, oranges, pinks, yellows, browns and creams appeared to be spilling down the rock face, this really was spectacular. 

We were the only ones there and whilst we thought it would feel a little strange to have the camp to ourselves for the night we were looking forward to it.  We made ourselves comfortable and both feeling so much healthier we felt it only fitting to pop the cork on a bottle of bubbly as we sat in wait for the light show.  We were treated to a show of splendor as the sunset behind us and the reflected light bounced an array of changing colours off the magnificent rock face of Rainbow Valley.  Just breathtaking!

Before long a convoy of 3 camper trailers had arrived and set up camp further around from us.  Then in raced Johnny come lately and his two passengers… they took over the fire pit in our campsite and then proceeded to roll out their swags there as well…  We had been invaded!  We will never understand why people travel out of large towns and cities and go bush only to camp right on top of other people when there is so much open space…  Furious, but losing the battle (he somehow worked for National Parks in the Alice Springs office and obviously felt he was more important than us… the customer) we retreated to the other side of our van where we were still able to dine in style looking out over Rainbow Valley  The sky was the most stunning I think so far, (I know a big statement… maybe I need to read back through the blog!) the clarity was spectacular with the milky way so clear, well, as clear as milky can be!

We awoke to a breathtaking view out across the claypan, the rock face just rising up out of the clay and displaying another array of colours with the sun having risen behind it.  A walk out to Mushroom Rock steered us along the edge of the claypan and near the magnificent rock structure exposing the most amazing textures which had us captivated.

Having had our gravel fix, it was time to get back out onto the bitumen and up to the MacDonnell Ranges.

Highlights of Kings Canyon and Rainbow Valley:

-          Kings Canyon

o   Rim Walk

o   Dome like structures

o   Sheer canyon walls

o   Dingoes roaming the area

-          Rainbow Valley

o   Spectacular show of colour and texture

o   Claypan

o   Brilliant night sky
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James D on

It looks good, and another good tail. We will add it to our plans and get there one day.

Val S. on

Great photos of Rainbow Valley... keep them rollin'

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