FRIDAY 11 JUNE KINGS CANYON
We were up at 9am again.
There was a lot of cloud about, at first, and we thought it would not be a good day to do much. However, by about 10, it had broken up, the sun was shining, and we decided to tackle the full Canyon Rim walk.
We took a packed lunch, and water, and the little first aid kit, in the day pack. I forgot to take extra film, though, and ran out part way round the walk. Drat!
Drove to the carpark. Walked the sealed first section of the track – this section is shared with the walk we did along the creek valley. Then it branched, and the first part of the Rim Walk was a steep climb up to the top level. Much of the ascent was stepped and staged, so it was by no means the worst climb I’d ever done.
As we gained height, there were dramatic views up the adjacent big valley, along the main Canyon, and back over the carpark and the plains below. The plateau at the top of the Canyon is 100-150 metres above the valley floor.
Once on the top plateau, the track wound along through lots of small dome, valley and chasm formations, that were quite unexpected and rather reminiscent of the much larger domes of the Bungles, in WA. The domes, according to local aboriginal lore, are native cat men.
The sunlight on the red sandstone was brilliant.
There was so much more variety up on top than I had expected. Little valleys had quite thick clumps of grasses growing, with shrubs, low trees and the occasional white trunked ghost gum contrasting strongly with the red rock.
In places we were walking on bare rock sheets.
There were occasional lookouts with huge drops into the Canyon below. Sometimes we could see people across the other side, looking really tiny.
We came across a first aid box and stretcher arrangement, for case of emergency up there. Like the same sort of thing we’d seen on the Valley of the Winds Olgas walk.
One side track that we took went to a lookout over the Garden of Eden. This is a deep, steep sided valley in the sandstone, formed by Kings Creek. Because of its depth and narrowness it stays rather permanently damp in there, from seepage out of the sandstone, and so it is a little oasis, with palms, ferns and 400 year old cycads. Even when Kings Creek is dry, water remains in some deep pools down there.
The lookout track crossed a deep ravine over a bridge and had some pretty vertiginous drops – but we gained an excellent view up the Garden of Eden.
After that, we went along and down into the Garden of Eden – on steps built down the rock face. Walked along to the permanent pools. There were a couple of ducks there, and a crow in a tree. Its call was magnified greatly by the rock walls – it seemed quite put out by the loud, echoing call, and kept repeating it, and acting puzzled. We thought it quite amusing.
We ate lunch sitting by the water. The ducks came begging for some. They were quiet enough to take pieces of crust from my fingers. It really was a lovely and serene place.
There were more stair cases to climb to get back up to the top level again.
The path continued around, through more domes and clefts and with more outlooks across the Canyon. This side of the Canyon was not as rugged as the first had been. The track around the Canyon Rim goes in a big U shape, so a little after the Garden of Eden, we could see where we had walked this morning.
There were places where the red sandstone walls were broken by white patches – places where pieces of rock had broken away and the underlying light coloured sandstone had not yet been oxidised to red.
One intrusive note was the helicopters regularly flying sightseers over the Canyon to look at it. They were quite low. One even landed up on top and we wondered if it dropped some walkers off to save them the climb up? They were just an incongruous presence in such a grand and awesome place.
Some people venture awfully close to the edge, but not this little black duck!
Eventually, we began a gradual downhill section and arrived back at the carpark.
The walk had been 6kms in total. We had left the carpark at 11am and returned to it at 4pm, without hurrying at any stage. In fact, we dawdled a lot!
I think it is one of the best day walks we have ever done – just a magic day. It was not too hot, and there was a little cooling breeze. I imagine that being up on the Rim on a really hot day would make it really hard. There were quite a few other walkers, as one would expect in a place like this, but they were not intrusive, and much of the time we were walking alone.
We certainly felt a great sense of achievement from completing this walk.
We did not feel too tired after all the exertion and scrambling, though, back at the van, John had a nap.
I made potato soup and we had some of that for tea, followed by curried tuna and rice – and yoghurt, of course.
A fairly early night was called for.