A trip to the Northern Territory. Part 9.

 

Kings Canyon

Hi There,

Now I never thought that I would do a nine part and counting series on our three-week holiday  to the Northern Territory, but here we are!  No need to panic just yet, I can assure you that it wont be long and we’ll be on the home stretch.  Meanwhile the stretch of road we were facing now was the Meerenie Loop.  A 154km stretch of dirt road which is a short cut to get to Kings Canyon, you can go the long way its only about 500km!  For the Meerenie loop you need a permit as it goes through some Aboriginal Land Trust area, also a 4 wheel drive vehicle of some description would be beneficial although not mandatory.  I’ve taken the next bit from The Outback Travellers Track Guide Book for Alice Springs to Yulara.  “The Meerenie Loop is very undulating with many crests, dips and creek floodways.  This area is mainly gravel with some rocky sections but is often plagued with corrugations and dusty conditions”.

img_1974To say it was corrugated and dusty would be a slight understatement to say the least!  The first section was an absolute quagmire of corrugations and at a slow speed you felt like you were on some sort of manic rollercoaster, every bump was a shudder of immense proportions.  This was going to be great for another 140 kilometres.  It did improve though.  We decided to see what would happen at a faster speed!  Well it was an improvement at a speed of 75-85kmh, mind you it was now a constant smaller shuddering.  I can only describe it as a cat the size of an elephant purring beneath your car with the reverberations oozing up into the vehicle and oneself.  Everything was just a constant shudder!

img_1992 img_1977You can see above the dips and creek floodways, these were the worst.  As you approached you would slow down to get across them and occasionally some were quite deep with pot holes in them which the front tyres would slam into with a tremendous thump.  It all sounds bad but it was an enjoyable experience and the scenery was quite beautiful.  Look at the rolling seam of rock in the left side of the photo above.

img_1979 img_1993There was a couple of classic road signs we saw, both on 44 gallon drums, one before a corner “LIFT UM FOOT” and the other around the corner “PUTTUN BACK DOWN”.  I  was too slow in getting any shots but click HERE to check them out!  What a classic!.  Having stopped for lunch and then continued on our way we soon came to Ginty’s Lookout.

img_2004In the distance you can see George Gills Range and Kings Canyon is at the right hand end of this range in these photos.

img_2005I think the boys enjoyed a chance to stretch and let off some steam, also gave me a chance to quickly check the vehicle and camper trailer were all in one piece.  There was a slight problem with the bike rack attachment on the camper trailer, parts of it had come loose and needed replacement, luckily I had spares!

img_2006Of course there were plants to admire, check out this pretty Erimophila!

img_2001Cant remember how long it took to complete our journey along the Meerenie loop but we had finally arrive at Kings Canyon.  Just in time to set up camp and then watch the suns rays set on the entrance to the canyon.

img_2014

img_2025The next morning dawned fresh and bright and away we went to get amongst the Canyon.  Kings Canyon is part of the Watarrka National Park and sits at the west end of the George Gills Range.  The walls in the canyon are over 100 metres high and make for some great panoramic views.  Here we go on the rim walk which is highly recommended, give yourself at least 4 hours to truly appreciate this place and watch out for the opening climb, it will test you!  Make sure you stop on the way up this straight up climb to admire the views, just don’t let on that you’re puffed!

img_2031Here’s one of my scenic views(puff,puff,puff) lucky there was some plants to look at!

img_2036img_2041 Above is Tall Mulla Mula also known as Pussytails or scientifically as Ptilotus exaltatus.  Below is a Blue Bush. Maireana sp, I’m not sure which one, there are 57 specie endemic to Australia.img_2039 img_2040Now that I’ve got my breath back, lets continue up the steep climb!

img_2038 img_2042In the above photo in the middle on the right you can see the car park receding in the distance.  Below you can see the canyon walls starting to come into view.  The river of green at the bottom is Kings Creek, providing the life blood for those plants.img_2048

Once you get to the top the rest of the Rim walk is quite easy and breathtaking at the same time!  Firstly you are walking through scrubland and rocky formations before you really get anywhere near the rim.  Mind you, you don’t want to get too close to the edge!

img_2057 img_2060 Picture below is of Sandstone mounds which are quite prolific up on the top of the George Gills Range.  They are known as Mereenie Sandstone which has been cross bedded.  Basically over time(lots of time) wind has deposited sand in different directions(see description in next photo).  The domes you see have been eroded along joint-bounded blocks with rain and wind eroding the corners and sides of the blocks giving us these domed shaped sandstone mounds.img_2090 img_2061img_2080 Looking closely below you will see Rhinoceros Rock.  Well that’s what I called it!img_2143These two photos you can see those Sandstone domes I mentioned earlier.img_2084 img_2103Now we come to parts where you need to hold your breath as you edge closer to the edge.

img_2088 It is a shear drop off the edge there!

img_2116

Kings Canyon sits in what is known as the Amadeus Basin which is a intracratonic depression covering approximately 170,000 square Kilometres in Central Australia.  Interpret that as an inland sea I would think! Now I will quote the Geology of Kings Canyon National Park by L. Bages, report 4 for the Northern Territory Geological Survey.  “The oldest exposed rocks in the park are those of the shallow-marine to continental Cambrian Pertaoorrta Group.  This group is conformably overlain by the marine Cambro-Ordovician Larapinta Group which is conformably overlain by the shallow-marine Mereenie Sandstone.  The sequence was gently folded, faulted and partly joined during the Alice Springs Orogeny between 400-300 million years ago.  Since the Carboniferous, the area has undergone a long period of erosion.  During the Tertiary, the climate was tropical; fluvial sediments were deposited in places and silcrete and ferricrete were formed.  During a period which lasted from the late Tertiary to the Quaternary, acolian sand dunes and sheets, which now cover large areas in Central Australia, were deposited under arid conditions.” Did you get all that??  Basically means what a fantastic landscape we are looking at now!! Here we have the ocean floor with ripples in it, incredible!img_2117img_2097Above we are looking out towards the car park and yes, the views are quite beautiful.img_2104 Yes you are correct, those are people  on the opposite side of the canyon looking over the edge!  No fences here!  Scary!img_2100img_2085Not a great photo below but just showing a chasm(Joint) and the cross bedding(layers) in the sandstone. img_2098Lets have a look at a few of the plants up here.  The Desert Heath Myrtle, Thryptomene maisonneuve were in full flower.  These Thryptomenes are widespread throughout arid Australia and can grow to 1.5m high. img_2056

The ones on top of Kings Canyon in the open were quite close to the ground to get out of the wind!img_2197Below is Macrozamia macdonnellii, The Macdonnell Ranges Cycad, interesting to see cycads out in arid country!img_2063 This one below looks like some kind of Hibbertia sp.  Also know as Guinea Flowers, pretty nether the less.img_2065 Not sure of this one, obviously situated in the Daisy family, could be a Calotis or a Minuria or some form of Brachycome or I could be totally off the money.  Nice flowers though!img_2066This is Pandorea doratoxylon which we saw at Serpentine Gorge .img_2075 This is the stunning Holly Leaf Grevillea, Grevillea wickhamii.img_2070 img_2071A shrub or small tree 1-4m or even 8m tall in places, seen in Western Australia and inland Northern Territory.

img_2151We’ll leave the plants alone for a little while and head back into the scenic elements of Kings Canyon.

img_2207Below we are looking into the Garden of Eden, an oasis in the middle of Kings Canyon fed via Kings Creek which creates a sublime environment in the heart of this arid country.img_2210img_2146Look at the reflection in the water, beautiful! img_2159Here is a stand of the Macdonnell Ranges Cycads.

img_2136 img_2130Check out these reflections!  Not Bad!

img_2165 The one below is actually taken looking directly into the water!img_2171Staircase leading out of the Garden of Eden and on towards the rest of the Rim Walk.img_2124Here we are around the other side of the rim.  That edge to the right of those people is a straight drop of about 100m or more and then maybe double that to Kings creek  at the bottom, scary stuff!

img_2224 img_2213 On this Sandstone cliff you can see the horizontal layers that have been laid down over time.img_2221Wow!

img_2230 img_2226A bit more information above and no we didn’t smash any rocks to check the insides!img_2228 The colours were truly amazing!img_2227

The photos below show to good effect the Sandstone domes and layers

img_2214 img_2202 img_2201 img_2110I like this one above, it shows a couple of fault lines running in different directions.  We are now on our way back towards ground level and the finish of the Rim Walk, a few more plants have caught my eye!  I think this one is either a Goodenia,  Lechenaultia or Velleia sp.  Pretty little shrub on the sandstone hills on top of the canyon.

img_2096This one below is quite possibly Goodenia cycloptera.

img_2198Plants have an amazing knack of growing anywhere, have a look at this fig below.

img_2234This one below looks like a bit of an oddity and haven’t been able to work it out yet!

img_2225A few more pics of Ptilotus exaltatus.

img_2263 img_2265Here’s a good photo of one we’ve seen before, Solanum quadriloculatum.

img_2180This is Kestrel Falls, apparently where lots of Kestrel’s roost and also some good waterfalls here during the wet season.

img_2255A few more plant photos showing the tough environment here.

Well I must admit that’s about it.  It was a big day and everyone enjoyed it even though we were tired!

img_2219 img_2207It was good to sit down again!

img_2269Cheers!

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One thought on “A trip to the Northern Territory. Part 9.

  1. Pingback: A trip to the Northern Territory. Part 12b. | huon perennials

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