A unique characteristic of Uluru/Ayers Rock, as a natural wonder, is its remoteness. It is sitting in the middle of the Red Centre of Australia, and its visitors travel by road or by air. Is it worth travelling this far? Absolutely! I can think of 7 reasons to go beyond Uluru and do the Kings Canyon Rim Walk.
The Road Trip from Uluru to Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon is part of Watarrka National Park and is 320 kms from Uluru, about 4 hrs drive. The road there is very good, with beautiful scenery. It’s a great opportunity to experience the Australian Outback without extensive distances.
Things to take in consideration when driving are the high cost of petrol and the fact that rental car insurance won’t provide cover if the accident involves an animal, so don’t drive at night. Also, be extremely cautious at dusk and dawn.
If driving is not an option, there are tours available from Uluru
The Sights on the Way
There is plenty to see on the way from Uluru to the Kings Canyon Rim Walk. The scenery evolves and the colours change, the wildlife is active and plentiful. Indeed, the road trip is part of this unique experience.
Mount Conner is a flat-topped, horseshoe-shaped mountain, thought to be part of the same rocky mass as Uluru and Kings Canyon. It’s visible from the road between Uluru and Kings Canyon. There is a viewpoint on the side of the road, it’s worth a stop.
The Curtin Springs Station
The Curtin Springs Station is a perfect example of life facilities in the Outback! Visit the pub, the shower block, it’s the real deal!
Kings Canyon is incredibly scenic, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s an adventurous destination, for those with interests in bushwalking, bird-watching, nature and photography. The climate conditions are harsh, the place is dry, isolated and in summer, temperatures easily reach 40 degrees. If you need some additional inspiration, do watch Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, where the beauty of the Kings Canyon Rim Walk holds a leading role.
Kings Canyon Resort
Kings Canyon Resort is the only place to stay. It offers a range of accommodation, from camping and holiday park to air-conditioned hotel rooms. It also has a limited number of dining options. One thing to bear in mind, there is no phone or internet signal. However, a Wi-Fi is available in the reception office for a fee.
The Kings Canyon Rim Walk
The Kings Canyon Rim Walk is a 6 km loop round trip. It is a demanding hike, starting with a steep climb of rocky and uneven “steps”, known as “Heartbreak Hill” locally. I prefer the more romantic name of “Stairway to Heaven”. Don’t worry, it’s the hardest part of the hike. Once you get over the 500 steps, you will be rewarded with the most incredible views over the canyon. After that, it’s a lot easier, with no major climb.
The Kings Canyon Rim Walk will take you through stunning and varied scenery.
The Lost City
The Lost City is about half way through the walk and offers an amazing scenery of sandstone domes, reminiscent of the Bungle Bungles in Western Australia. There is a peaceful feel, walking through the sandstone domes.
The Garden of Eden
Descending from the Rim Walk, the Garden of Eden is a waterhole surrounded by lush plant life. It’s a very different environment than the sandstone domes of the top of the canyon.
The descent back to the starting point is a slow one, with diverse views. The Rim Walk can be done anti-clockwise but the rangers recommend to do the walk in one direction only.
Other Bush Walks
The area around the Kings Canyon Rim Walk offers other walks, of various difficulty levels and lengths.
Kings Creek Walk
The Kings Creek walk is quite easy, only 2 km return (1 hr) and traces the bottom of the canyon. You arrive at a viewing platform to admire the 100 m walls of the canyon.
The Giles Track is 22 km long and connects Kings Canyon to Kathleen Gorge. It is for more adventurous hikers.
Kathleen Springs is an easy and pleasant walk leading to a spring-fed waterhole. There are signs of past cattle industry and Aboriginal settlement.
Kathleen Springs is 22 kms from the Kings Canyon Resort. The walk is 2.4 km and is wheelchair accessible.
This walk is suitable for families and visitors with limited mobility (wheelchair access available). Signs along the track tell stories of Aboriginal Culture and the recent cattle industry. It leads to a spring-fed waterhole at the head of Kathleen Gorge. This is a cool moist place to sit and enjoy the area’s tranquillity.
The Bird Life
As part of the 7 Reasons to do the Kings Canyon Rim Walk, there is a very lively one: All over Uluru and Kings Canyon, you will see wildlife in their natural habitat. Birds are especially obvious as they tend to gather where water is available. In this dry land, a lot of these places are where humans gather. They are widely visible around water sources such as streams and swimming pools.
Birds are funny characters, and their colours and shapes vary a great deal.
What to bring
The Red Centre of Australia is a harsh place, especially in the dry season and the Kings Canyon Rim Walk is no exception. From October to April, the temperatures easily reach 40 degrees, so it’s important to rise early to get as much coolness as possible. In January, the temperature reaches 30 degrees by 7 am.
You need to be properly equipped:
Carry plenty of water wherever you go. The general recommendation is a litre per hour. I strongly recommend insulated bottles, they are really good at keeping water cool and in such a heat, it’s a blessing.
Take a wide-brimmed hat and net. Dehydration can happen very quickly so a good protective hat is required. A net to keep the flies off is also necessary. I’m not a fan of those, I preferred to experiment with a Moroccan shesh. Mine is a little bulky as I had a very long piece of fabric, but it was very good in protecting me from the heat. Furthermore, I had a length of fabric to hide my face from the flies.
Sunscreen is required. The sun kicks. Seriously. This is Australia.
Good footwear is paramount. This is very much a personal choice but it’s important to have quality footwear in order to deal with difficult terrain.
Take some snacks. Due to the heat, any walk will require a lot of energy. Even though the Rim Walk is only 6 km, it’s a significant effort, so come prepared. There are no shops out there!
Finally, bring a camera. Any kind works but make sure you have one. The views are so breathtaking, you will certainly want to take them with you.
Now, tell me, are there more than 7 reasons to go beyond Uluru do the Kings Canyon Rim Walk? Please share them!