travelling the seven parts of the world
Feb 28th, 2008

Kings Canyon is a cliff formation some 350 km drive from Ayers Rock, and is Australia's largest canyon. It falls desperately short of the sights you can see in USA, such as Canyonlands National Park or the Grand Canyon itself, but is nevertheless an interesting sight.

We arrived by car in late afternoon, checked into our room, and went exploring. We didn't want to do the rim walk as it was already getting pretty late, so we walked to the canyon front. It wasn't much of a sight at all, as you really couldn't see much. I did, however, note that it was extremely hot. I noticed this from the fact that opening the window in the car to let the wind rush in did not cool you down. The window was so hot, it felt like opening an oven door and letting the heat out on your face. Upon checking the official thermometer at the trail head, we realized that yes, it was pretty hot, 50 degrees C hot (picture above). We didn't really feel like attempting a 3 hour climb in that heat, plus, we had the whole of the next day, and the area around Kings Canyon really doesn't have that many things to do.

One of the things you are bound to notice around here are Dingos. They are basically Australian stray dogs that life off of anything and everything. They are scared of humans so there is no worry.

We ended the day with sunset viewing at a viewing platform just outside our room.

The next day we went for the climb.

It is a short and steep climb up from the bottom of the canyon to the rim, and after that things are pretty easy and fun. We had bought fly-nets by this day, so it was actually quite enjoyable.

The canyon itself has a weird form - you cannot see the actual canyon from the front - as you can see from the picture the canyon makes a very sharp turn before opening up into the valley. So you can't actually notice the actual canyon without climbing on the top.

The canyon rim itself is an area of interesting shapes. There is another place in Australia where these shapes are, and there they are called the bungle bungles. This is a place where rock for some reason was divided into square formations that have over time weathered off to be small rock domes scattered all over the place.

After we were done with the walk we drove back to our room and indulged in the pleasures of the swimming pool. There we met a nice French couple that lived in Brisbane, precisely why, I know not. We exchanged hellos and he asked where we were from. We said we were from Latvia. He immediately asked his next question, which was, get this:

"Do you still dislike Russians??"

I was a bit taken back, but replied with an affirmative gesture.

"That's good, because we don't like them here either!"

Needless to say, we found a lot to talk about. The conversation soon devolved into a chat about the costs of being where we were. They were camping out, so were eager to know how much we were dishing out for our nice little jail cell. I was interested in a more budget solution to traveling around here.

The whole Kings Canyon experience cost us $300 for a car rental for just 2 days (rental + extra km + underage surcharge), $200 for two nights, $100+ for dining, plus petrol and other food purchases. The whole thing ended up costing about $700 - $800 for 2 days of fun in the red center. The sights are not that spectacular, and are dwarfed by anything and almost everything you'll see in a place like New Zealand, where $750 will buy you at least 4 nights in better accommodation + dining + car + better views.

The conclusion was that it only makes sense to come to Kings Canyon if either
1) You have a car of your own (or a long time rental) and a tent with sleeping bags
2) You have lots of money and you are bent on seeing everything in Australia no matter what the value for cost is