An oasis in the middle of the Australian desert
The “Watarrka” National Park is the 3rd must-see site of the Australian Red Centre. Most tours that visit Uluru and Kata Tjuta also offer a trip to “Watarrka”.
And, believe us, this is really not the time to tell you that you have already seen everything, because the “Kings Canyon” site is simply exceptional!
Located in the center of Watarrka National Park, "Kings Canyon" does not resemble the rock formations of "Uluru" or "Kata Tjuta". And in the middle of the Australian desert, it is perhaps the only natural site where you can take your swimsuit!!
Two hiking trails allow you to observe the natural grandeur of the place. The best trail, which lasts about 3 hours, is by far the one that goes around the Canyon (“Kings Canyon Walk”) and allows you to pass through the middle of “the Garden of Eden”.
Only the beginning of the trail is considered a bit difficult (15 minutes of climbing with steps to reach the top of the Canyon, which the Australians simply call “Heart Attack Hill”!).
So take your time on the climb, but the rest of the way is absolutely problem-free and you will go from surprise to surprise all the way.
Favorite activity note: Visit to Watarrka National Park
It all starts with a simple canyon with fairly steep walls of 270 meters, and the incredible red color of the Australian desert. The bottom of the canyon is also oddly covered with trees, small shrubs, and other vegetation.
During the first half of the journey you will wander through red and black rock formations, populated by eucalyptus trees, small lizards, fossils and Aboriginal medicinal plants. Don't miss the corridors of rock formed by the wind, immortalized in the film Priscilla, Mad of the Desert!
"The Garden of Eden"
It is by arriving on the edge of the interior of the Canyon, that you will see what makes the specificity and the beauty of "Watarrka". The center of the Canyon is home to a large water hole (or "billabong") which allows lush vegetation to grow in the middle of the desert!
You will therefore pass, in the cool, in the middle of a stream, palm trees, eucalyptus, and small wild flowers. The colors are also striking, as the green of the trees brings out the red of the rocks, which itself changes the blue of the sky. In short, your photos will always be excellent.
To see the "billabong" itself, you have to go under the wooden staircase that allows you to go up to the other side of the canyon and walk to the bottom of the canyon.
The place is truly sheltered from everything, with some bird noises and a sweet freshness! This is where you can swim, but be careful as the water is extremely cold compared to the ambient temperature!
Finally the last part of the trail takes place on the other side of the Canyon. Seen from above, you will really see the aridity and the minerality of the landscape which surrounds “Watarrka” and the greenery and the luxuriance which escape from the Canyon and which nothing suggests.
You will also be at the highest point to appreciate the sheer walls of the Canyon and take the best photos above the void! The end of the journey is also still impressive for the colors and the red and black rock formations.
Located 330kms from Alice Springs, or 3 hours by car north of Kata Tjuta National Park, you can easily reach "Kings Canyon" by car via the Stuart Highway or Larapinta Drive.
The "Kings Creek Walk" is a very easily accessible trail, which takes only 1 hour. It allows you to walk to the center of the Canyon, but unfortunately, in this case, you will not see "the Garden of Eden", hidden behind the walls.
You can camp, rent a cabin or get gas at the "Road house" of "Kings Creek Station". It is the closest accommodation to “Watarrka” and they also offer helicopter tours over the park and the canyon, camel rides or “quads” sessions.
Kings Creek Station (Campsite and gas station)
Kings Canyon Resort (the closest luxury hotel to the site)