King’s Canyon Rim Walk, Watarrka National Park

There is something about a canyon I find hard to resist. Life clings to little cracks and ledges often defying both physics and biology, and their landscapes hide details that are overwhelmed by the grandeur of everything else. Walking around them is the only way to fully appreciate the meagre along with the mighty.

The Kings Canyon Rim Walk is a six-kilometre trail, graded moderate, with a steep set of rock steps at the start. We were lucky to have an overcast day and a top of 25 degrees, keeping things pleasant. Even so, heat still radiated from the rock we walked on as well as from above, and I was thankful to not be there on a hot day (I live in the tropics, so escaping the heat is usually imperative to trip planning, I have enough hot days in my life already).

I was a little nervous as I headed towards the steps at the start of this walk ; I hadn’t done anything like it in a long time. It definitely tested my knee and made me realise how much strength I need to get back. It was also my first effort using hiking poles and there’s clearly a lot of technique I need to develop to make use of these properly. Most of the time I felt like an uncoordinated praying mantis and managed to elicit a ‘well done’ from some other walkers once I got to the top, confirming my clumsy form. Shame job.

The effort was worth it, though, as the colour in Kings is striking, with a lot of the canyon walls dark red, while the upper parts and rim are multicoloured. Recent unseasonal rain turned the spinifex a dark green, luminous against the red rock and sand. As in a lot of desert places, stunted plants add a sculptural element and make for irresistible Canon fodder (see what I did there?). I switched between absorbing the view and clicking off photos to try to capture it.

The walk has many good vantage points and for the most part is not too difficult and well maintained, with wooden staircases taking you down into the Garden of Eden. Despite these efforts to keep everyone safe, you’ll have some hair-raising moments watching other walkers ignore the warning signs to get as close to the cliff edge as possible. Ugh.

The suggested time to do the walk is 3-4 hours, and of course, could be done much more quickly if you’re short on time. My thoughts? If you’re going to do it, allow the time so you can explore and really take it all in.



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