Watarrka National Park in the Red Centre
is found 330 kms south-west of Alice Springs, at the western end of the George Gill Ranges. The area has been the home of the Luritja people for tens of thousands of years. Their word, watarrka, is the name for the umbrella bush that grows here.
The park is a refuge for many plants and animals and contains rugged ranges, gorges and rock-holes. The most spectacular of these formations is Kings Canyon, a rich and fertile garden that is pocketed between towering sheer rock walls. The surrounding area is otherwise inhospitable desert. The canyon takes its name from the Kings Creek that flows through it.
Kings Canyon can be reached by a number of routes including the Stuart Highway or Larapinta Drive.
The cooler months are a more pleasant time to visit Kings Canyon, as some walking is required to enjoy the magnificent landscape.
There are 2 popular walks at Kings Canyon:
The King's Canyon Walk - a 6 km loop, that climbs to the top of the canyon and traces the rim of the towers before descending to the carpark. Delightful waterholes, cycads, riverine vegetation and the Garden of Eden are to be seen on this track. You'll also see the Lost City rock formations and a rock shape curiously called the Camel's Head. Allow 3-4 hours as there are some steep sections, stairs and boardwalks.
The Kings Creek Walk - a 2.6 km easy walking track that traces Kings Creek to a viewing platform. Metal trail markers and interpretative boards alert walkers to areas of Aboriginal cultural use. Allow 1 hour.
In the area in Watarrka National Park you 'll also find:
Carmichael Crag - 3 km north with the promise of beautiful colours at sunset
Kathleen Springs Walk - 2.6 km easy walking track that leads to a pleasant waterhole
The Giles Track - 22km overnight walk across the top of the George Gill Ranges. Begins at Kathleen Springs and finishes at Kings Canyon. Registration with Overnight Walkers Registration Scheme essential on 1300 650 730
Find out more about the Red Centre
Images: Kings Canyon - Australia's Outback Northern Territory, Northern Territory Tourism Commission