Saturday 8 September 2012

The Giles Track: Kathleen Springs to Watarrka (Kings Canyon)

We rented a Nissan X-trail in Alice, got a Mereenie Loop Rd permit from the visitors centre and drove out to Kings Canyon.

Along the way we saw Albert Namatjira's hometown of Hermannsburg, and a bunch of camels.  The road was pretty decent - lots of corrugations, but we could do 80 km/h or so fairly comfortably.

When we got to Kings Canyon resort, we were hoping to get a transfer out to Kathleen Springs for the 22km (13.6 mile) Giles track, as mentioned here, but were told at reception "we don't do that, we rent bikes though...?".  After some discussion, one of the staff very kindly offered to drive us out in her car, and we gave her a bottle of wine for her trouble.

Due to last minute planning and a constrained time schedule we didn't start walking until about 3:30pm and we had 14.4km to cover to the campsite at Reedy Creek, which meant we did the last few kilometres in the dark with headtorches.  The only water we saw on the trail was shortly after Kathleen Springs and it looked pretty manky, Reedy Creek was totally dry so we were glad we carried extra water.

Looking over Kathleen Springs
We passed an overhang about 30m off the trail: I said "I bet there's some Aboriginal art in there", and there was :)

Sunrise view from our campsite a few hundred metres on from Reedy Creek. 
Sunset looking over the escarpment, still a few km from Reedy Creek

Ran into this guy at night near Reedy Creek, when we were walking with headtorches

Beehive rocks approaching Kings Canyon

When we got to Kings Canyon we did the rim walk counter-clockwise, which I would recommend, since you don't have to go down and come up again.  It means you are going against the flow of tourists, but that's not a problem.  Look forward to lots of "goan the wrong way fellas?", "youse blokes are prepared", and "sleepan out tnight boys?" comments.

Kings Canyon
Since I was last here (20 years ago), they have built some stairs down to the bottom of the canyon, so you don't have to rock-hop through the house-sized boulders the full length of the canyon from the entrance.

Water at the head of Kings Canyon

Once we were finished with the rim walk we realised we were still 5.5 km from where we left our car at the resort reception.  Facing the prospect of a 5.5 km road bash, we decided to try and hitchhike.  We trolled the carpark and strongarmed some reluctant kiwis into giving us a lift back.

$2.26/L at Kings Canyon resort, that's $8.69/gallon for the Americans playing along.  Also, because Dad kept a diary from last time, in 1992 it was $0.91/L for diesel.
We then took the Meerenie Loop back to Redbank Gorge, for an assault on Mt. Sonder the next day.

Reduce speed to see Camel Toe
Dingo on the Meerenie Loop Road

Mt. Sonder from Tylers Pass
On the way we visited Tnorala (Gosse Bluff), site of an ancient (142.5 million years ago) comet impact by a comet estimated to be 600m wide.  The 5km diameter crater is a central uplift region of a much larger, but now eroded, 20km diameter crater.  It's an aboriginal sacred site, so you can't access most of it, and its hard to take a photo of, but I got a decent one of the crater rim from Tylers Pass.

Tnorala (Gosse Bluff) from Tylers Pass
Mt. Sonder at sunset as we approached Redbank Gorge

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