Kings Canyon and Kathleen Springs

From Redbank Gorge we drove around to Kings Canyon via the Mereenie Loop.   We had missed Kings Canyon on our 2010 trip so we decided it would be good to go this time even though it would require quite long drives with 150 km of corrugated dirt on the Mereenie loop then about 450 km back to Alice Springs the next day to be back in time for our appointment to have our hot water system fixed – it was rather shocking to be on a tight schedule again.

macdonnells map
Our route through the Western MacDonnells and on to Kings Canyon with overnight stops marked.  (Google maps is outrageously conservative where it comes to gravel roads – it doesn’t really take 10 hours to get to Kings Canyon this way around) 
gosses bluff
Along the route we got a good view of Gosse’s Bluff which is the remnant of a very old comet impact that left this circular range about 5km in diameter.  While there is a road into the crater, we had visited it in 2010 so we did not go in this time. 
morris pass lookout
The view from Morris Pass on the Mereenie Loop with the red George Gill Range containing Kings Canyon in the distance.
black breasted buzzard
Along the way we spotted 2 new bird species – this black breasted buzzard and also 2 Major Mitchell Cockatoos, although I didn’t get a decent picture of the cockatoos.
kings canyon 1
We arrived at Kings Canyon at 2pm and set out on the 4 hour rim walk.    This worked out very well as you get great lighting in the late afternoon and no crowds – only a few individuals.  The tour buses seem to come in the morning. 
a rare information sign
There are a couple of rare information signs around the rim walk, however there are hundreds of safety and warning signs everywhere (shown below).   While they sometimes get in the way of a photograph I guess its better than having unsightly barriers everywhere.   Seems there must be people out there who need to be told that if you jump off the cliff you will probably die.

 In addition to the warning signs there are 5 first aid stations with emergency phones, defibrillators and helipads.  Also this rather interesting chart suggesting that you check the colour of you urine to make sure you are drinking enough

lost in the bee hives
The first part of the walk goes through these beehive rock formations

bridge to cotterills lookout

bee hive tops kings canyon
Some of the tops of the beehives have miniature beehive formations themselves
sea ripples
Ripple formations in the quartzite
ghost gum and red quartzite
Green and white ghost gums contrast beautifully with the red and black rock. 
view from cotterills LO
After walking through the beehives, you emerge onto the northern edge of the canyon.   This view from Cotterill’s lookout, named after the person that opened the area to tourism in the 1960s

steve a the waterfall

red rock wall K C
Looking across to the south wall of the canyon 
kings canyon
nice late afternoon colours looking down the canyon
kings canyon dragon
We have seen quite a few dragons on this trip – maybe I need to get an identification guide and start a dragon list.   This guy is about 20cm long.
kings canyon gorge view
We descended into this gorge which feeds into Kings Canyon with the romantic name of the Garden of Eden.   It has a few small waterholes and one large permanent one near the end just before it plunges over into Kings Canyon.
kings canyon pool
Garden of Eden waterhole
nice honeycomb
Honeycomb rock formations in the Garden of Eden
rock wall kings canyon
The setting sun reflects off the spectacular south wall of the canyon
kings canyon panorama
Panorama from the south wall.   The rock is white, but turns red from dissolved iron in water seeping through it which oxidises when it reaches the surface and the water evaporates.    The light coloured part of the cliff is said to have fallen away in 1930 so not much rusting has happened yet.
steve making me nervous
You can peer down almost 100m vertically – I wouldn’t do this on the north side though.
rock tree and steve
From the south wall the walk heads through more sandstone plateau.  We are not sure if this is a ghost gum as it is pink.   The puddle in the background is from the rains that occurred the previous day.

ancient cycads kings canyon

cycad fruit
Cycad fruit
flora for honey eaters
We saw a few grey headed honeyeaters eating these flowers.
kestrel falls LO
Panorama from falcon falls on the way back down from the George Gill Range.

maddy at king tut

entry kings canyon
This structure is at the start of the walks in Kings Canyon.   It looked like there might be information boards, but once again it was mostly full of safety warnings.
doggies on the road
We were the second last to leave Kings Canyon, once the people go, the dingos come looking for scraps. 

We spent the night at the King’s Canyon Resort.  Definitely a place to avoid.  It was the most expensive caravan park we have encountered: $40 for a patch of dust with no water or power and the bathrooms were filthy.   I guess they take their guidance from the resort at Uluru, which also has a monopoly and has the dubious reputation of providing the worst value for money accommodation in Australia.

The following morning we dropped into Kathleen Springs, which is a beautiful spring fed waterhole about 20km east of Kings Canyon, then continued on the long drive back to Alice Springs.

katherine springs
Kathleen springs


2 thoughts on “Kings Canyon and Kathleen Springs

    1. Yes it will be hard to go back to regular life. However the more we travel, the more we realise there is to see. After Australia, there are plenty of other places to see. Eastern Indonesia, Sri Lanka, not to mention Antartctica. Some of these are fairly expensive destinations, so we might need to bolster the bank balance a bit.


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