Kings Canyon day tour: A review

Anyone who knows me, knows that 3.45am is not a time of day I see a lot of. Journalists are a fairly evening-centric bunch seeing as though it’s still frowned on to start drinking before noon.

The Garden of Eden is a waterhole that you hike to
The Garden of Eden

It was with some shock that I almost enjoyed sunrise as the AAT Kings coach bowled along the long, straight road towards Kings Canyon. Between naps, I witnessed a sky that included about 100 MAC nailpolish shades between vermillion and coral, lightening into the faded chambray of dawn.

At 7am, we stirred for breakfast at Kings Creek Station, home to Nibbles the baby camel, an enthusiastically hungry cow and a surprisingly number of Japanese and Korean staff. A full English breakfast was served in a grass-thatched hut, after which my fellow hikers all started looking decidedly serious about The Outdoors. Sunscreen application met hats and solid boots. I tilted my unadorned head towards my flimsily shod feet and began to worry. Was I going to slip and die wearing K-Mart shoes?

Minutes later the bus whisked us away to the trail head and the guides rained warnings upon us. Drink water! Drink water! Drink more (you guessed it) water! Apparently people (aka unguided tourists) are constantly causing trouble with their propensity to dehydrate and die. My group was lucky. The temperature didn’t get above 30C until the end of the walk but recorded temperatures reach into the 40Cs so – I implore you – pack at least three litres of water.

There are two walking options: The Rim Walk and The Creek Bed Walk. The Rim Walk takes approximately 3.5 hours and is moderate intensity as it includes 500 upward steps. The Creek Bed Walk is a gentle 1.5 hour stroll and is only recommended for the weak (seriously, you’re missing the view if you take this option). I am about as fit as John Candy and I was fine with option one.

The view from the top
The view from the top

The view is WORTH IT. Climb that hill, Fatty! When you get to the top, you are treated to a nubbly, flat vista, serious sandstone monolith action and lots of bad-ass desert flora like Mother’s Milk, a plant whose sap was rubbed into local aboriginal peoples eyes to blind them as a punishment. If you like birds (and let’s face it, I do. I am getting un-cooler every year), there’s an abundance of parrots and finches to squint at myopically.

And then there’s the quiet. It is so quiet out there. If you can escape the nattering of your fellow hikers, there is a vast, deep and powerful silence that washes over your soul like a silk veil.

When your sweaty ass returns to the coach (greeted by cold towels – thank you Jeeves), the group then heads off to Kings Canyon Resort for an amusingly over-priced lunch ($28 for a chicken Caesar salad and $5 for a can of Diet Coke) and then it’s back home to Uluru.

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