The 5.5km walk/clamber up and around the rim of Kings Canyon is like a mini world trip. There was a group of US uni students on an Australian Geographic tour, a bus load of Germans doing the walk barefoot to feel the warmth of the rock, a French couple, a family from Sydney. Yesterday’s walk included some of a family of five children including a three month baby from Dandenong taking a year off to do the “Big Loop” and a bus load of Chinese speakers.
The walk itself is well marked and includes staircases and footbridges and a sidewalk to the heavenly Garden of Eden permanent waterhole. Just the right degree of difficulty.
Yesterday we drove in the rain from Lake Hart up the Stuart Highway (Explorers Way) to Coober Pedy, the opal capital of Australia. Having spent time in Lightning Ridge last year, we didn’t feel the need to view more opal mines. We topped up our water ($1 for 40 litres), put our clothes through the washing machine and dryer, and shopped at the Miners Store ($7.99 per kg for kangaroo tail, skin on). We bought steak.
Dinner was at the Opal Inn bistro, where we chatted to a couple from Lorne who also like walking.
Today we stopped for coffee (from a Thermos flask) at an ugly roadside pull-over, but as we walked, we realised that a few metres away was a wonderland of wildflowers. I counted seventeen different types on a short walk to the Central Railway line. Lunch was another picnic stop, then on up that long, straight highway, listening to Len Beadell’s tape to Shepparton Rotary. Over several decades from the 1950s, Len had surveyed many of the roads out here in the outback for a rocket range, atomic bomb testing and general access.
We then found a side road and settled down for the night. As often happens, two other campers have pulled in nearby. After sunset drinks and dips, we barbecued sausages and had them with veg and peaches and custard for dessert as a windmill from a nearby bore cranked away. Tomorrow we begin the Northern Territory part of this trip.
Our campsite glowed in the early morning sunlight as we left it and soon we were crossing the border into the Northern Territory. Things got bigger – for starters, the speed limit was 130kph; then happy hours lasted 90 minutes, according to the sign at Erldunda Tavern.
We arrived at Kings Canyon shortly after lunch and did a walk up the canyon, where the rocks glowed crimson against the snowgums and the holly grevillea gleamed in the sunlight. This evening we joined fellow travellers for sunset drinks as the rocks turned to mauve.