If you drive 354km (four-and-a-half hours) north-east out of Uluru on State Highway 4, you will arrive at Kings Canyon, one of the most stunning spots in Australia’s Red Centre. On the way, you can spot Mount Conner (often mistaken for Uluru because of it’s similar shape) and the great salt plains of Lake Amadeus.
Located in the Watarrka National Park and even more remote than its popular cousins Uluru and Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon is a monumental site where a huge gorge has been cut into layer upon layer of ancient red sandstone. It formed a staggering 440 million years ago, which is when the first signs of life began to emerge on land.
You can stay at Kings Canyon Resort and book yourself onto a 6km (4 mile) guided walk around the canyon’s edge. The walk takes you up and over the huge canyon with a climb of 500 steps, before leading you down into The Garden of Eden, an oasis of water, spectacularly green plant species and outspoken birds. Everywhere you look is just spectacular. The biscuits of red rock stretch out in front of you and when you’re on the edge of the canyon you can see for miles across the Australian desert. You can also find the ripples of waves made during an ice age millions of years ago, a sight that puts our 200,000 existence on earth into almost cruel perspective.
That’s the thing about Australia: it is the home of the oldest rocks on earth; an ancient land that has seen the comings and goings of the very first elements on earth, countless species and generations of ancestors of the modern human. It’s a tough, inspiring and humbling place, and Kings Canyon is a landscape in which you can get to the very heart of it.
– Words and photos: Rosie Pentreath