Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon

After 4 hours of driving from Yalara to Kings Canyon, four stiff bodies were eager to stretch their legs and go for a hike up and around Kings Canyon. We arrived at Kings Canyon at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and began the hike towards the Canyon.

Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon

 

At the beginning of the walk, we read up on the history of the canyon and noticed the hinking guidelines. Signs suggested to allow 3-4 hours to complete the Kings Canyon walk. Upon reading this sign, we were filled with a little concern, knowing that the sun sets at 6pm, and so we would need to be off the canyon and back at the car by that time. This only allowed us three hours to complete the walk. Despite this realization, we decided to take the gamble and started off on what we would soon find out to be a fairly challenging walk. The first few hundred meters of the Kings Canyon walk is stairs up a steep incline. It is also known as “heart attack hill”. It took us 45 minutes to climb the steps of this first mountain. We were filled with comfort once we arrived at the top of the mountain, as we found a defibrillator and radio hanging on a pole. Whilst none of us required the defibrillator, we did pause for a moment once at the top to regain our breath and energy.

Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon


At this point the hardest part of the walk was over, and we began to walk around the top of the canyon. It took us a further 45mins to get to the middle of the top of the canyon. From this point we could see the entire canyon, and a long way into the distance; a continuing great expanse of red dirt. The view was absolutely dazzling. We could see people lining the opposite side of the canyon, standing on the edge yelling out ‘koo-wee’! The echo was incredible!

 

A few minutes later we rounded a corner and stopped. We stood still and listened. We could hear the silence. It was deafening. Such a surreal feeling.

Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon

 

Fifteen minutes later we were walking down steps into a stunning place called ‘The Garden of Eden’, which was a little paradise hidden within the rocks of the canyon. There was a small river running through the bottom, trees, plants and flowers all over and a little wallaby hopping along. We crossed the bridge over the river, and began the ascent out of the Garden of Eden, back up to the top of the Canyon.

 

We continued to follow the arrows around the canyon until we began the descent back to the carpark. As we were walking down the last mountain we looked out at the stunning view of the sun setting in the outback.

Once back at the car the four tired bodies climbed into the car to head to the Kings Canyon Resort cabin which they were staying at, for a well earnt sleep.

If hiking the Canyon doesn’t interest you, here are some suggestions of other things you may like to do or see:


Sleep Well – There are a few properties not far from Kings Canyon where you can rest your head. Kings Creek Station is close by, and is an operational camel and cattle station. Kings Canyon Station has camping, glamping and safari cabin options, and you can request dinner under the stars. You can also enjoy a special five-course dinner under moonlight while staying at Kings Canyon Resort. This ‘Under a Desert Moon’ experience is held four nights a week between April and October. Kings Canyon Resort has standard and spa rooms in the hotel, as well as caravan and camp sites in a holiday park.

Fly – Take flight over King Canyon on a scenic helicopter from Kings Creek Station. The flight takes in breathtaking mountain Carmichael Crag, as well as the Garden of Eden and Kathleen Springs. Kings Creek Station also runs quad bike tours over the red sand dunes.


Whether walking, flying, or riding you are sure to have a magnificent time exploring one of Australia’s most popular tourist spots; the Kings Canyon.

A visit to Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park

A visit to Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park

After the mad dash to reach the rock, four eager bodies saw the magnificent sight for the first time, Uluru, awestruck by its enormity. As the sun made it’s way to the horizon, we watched the rock light up in the most extraordinary reds. Our hearts content by its beauty and our tummies satisfied by quesadillas cooked on the camp stove.

Uluru

The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a world famous national park home to two of the most iconic rock formations in the world. It expands for more than 327,414 acres and is home to a vast variety of flora and fauna including the Mala (aka Rufous Hare-Wallaby). The Mala is sacred to the Anangu people (Indigenous Australians of the Western Desert) as it holds significance in their Uluru creation stories.

Uluru

The Uluru base walk is a once in a lifetime cultural experience. As you trek the 10.6km loop, you can get a glimpse into the story of Uluru through native art on some parts of the rock. Information along the path enables you to see how Uluru fits into the history of the Anangu people. If you are not feeling up to the base walk, or you do want a little more insight from a ranger, there is a FREE Ranger Guided Walk that takes you from the Mala Carpark (at the Cultural Centre) to the base of the rock. They depart daily from 8am in October to April or 10am from May to September. The tour goes for approximately an hour and a half and gives visitors insight into the history and traditions associated with Uluru as well as traditional and contemporary Anangu life and culture.

Uluru

The Cultural Centre is your one stop shop for visitor information, traditional hand painted Anangu art, souvineers and even a bite or two to eat. It is open daily from 7am to 6pm. We attended a FREE child-friendly culture and language class with a Ranger and an Anangu man. We learnt about the different languages spoken by different aboriginal people in Australia and specifically Pitjantjatjara which is spoken by those from the area surrounding Uluru. We also got to see a thorny devil up close and ask questions about aboriginal culture.
Kata Tjuta, or the Olgars, is often the forgotten brother of Uluru. It consists of 36 domes, the highest reaching 546m above the horizon. This exceeds Uluru’s summit by 198m! Kata Tjuta means ‘many heads’ in Pitjantjatjara. There are contrasting opinions between the Anangu and Geologists regarding the formation of these landmarks. Anangu describe the travels of Kuniya (woma python women), Liru (poisonous snake man), Mala and Lungkata (blue-tongue lizard man). Geologists describe the erosion of cracks in a larger mass causing the rounded domes seen today.
There are four main walks through Kata Tjuta (see below). The Valley of the Winds Karu Lookout prompts you to gaze through natures window into an abyss of greenery and rust-red rocks, a truly unforgettable sight. This walk takes approximately an hour and is the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic lunch with a view. The full circuit track requires about half a day, including a lunch break and it is recommended to start trekking earlier in the day, especially during the summer months.
Park open hours vary throughout the year according to daylight hours. It costs $25 per adult for a three day pass or $32.50 for a yearly pass. Children aged 5-15 are $12.50 and children 4 years and below are free. Family passes are also available.
There are many options in terms of camping and lodging near the national park. Ayers Rock Resort has a population of larger than one thousand residents, making it the fourth biggest city in the a Northern Territory, following Darwin, Alice Springs and Katherine. There are many staff always happy to greet you with a smile and help to meet your every need. For families travelling in a caravan or camping, the Ayers Rock Campground is a family friendly choice. Complete with a swimming pool, playground, giant chess and volleyball courts, the campground offers a perfect place to put your feet up after a long day of exploring or driving. A petrol station is also located close to the Ayers Rock Campground.
For those wishing to stay somewhere more luxurious, there are many options. The Desert Gardens Hotel has most recently undergone a complete refurbishment, creating a modern and cultural experience for your stay in Yullara (town closest to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park). It is a four and a half star hotel complete with a swimming pool and both premium and casual dining options. It is the home of Mingkiri Arts where you can purchase a range of Australian made crafts or view a revolving art exhibition at Arnguli Restaurant. The Wintjiri Arts and Museum is located adjacent to the Desert Gardens Hotel and is open daily from 8:30am to 5pm. The main exhibit displays a work titled “Artists in Residnece” showcasing local Anangu work, which is also available for purchase.
Emu Walk Apartments are serviced apartments** with basic facilities. Their greatest asset is their location. Situated next to the Resort Town Square, they provide easy access to the town supermarket, postal services, banks/ATM and tourist information centre.
Sails in the Desert is home to the Mulgara Gallery. It is situated in the hotels lobby and is open daily from 8:30am to 5pm. The resort is complete with a swimming pool, fine and casual dining options and the Red Ochre Spa. They also have function rooms available for business trips. The Ilkari Restaurant is open for a buffet breakfast and buffet dinner. From personal experience, the breakfast buffet is extraordinary. With a chef station to cook your choice of eggs, omelettes, pancakes or eggs Benedict, you feel las if you are dining with royalty. The waitresses don’t let you see the bottom of your teacup and do the best to facilitate any request. Antipasto options, cooked options, fresh fruits and juice as well as standard cereals, toast, porridge and yogurt allow even the pickiest of eaters an option.
The Outback Pioneer Hotel and Lodge is the perfect spot for those with a heart for astronomy. It is the Astro Hub of Yullara where tours run for both families and individuals.  A resident astronomer takes you on a journey through the life cycle of stars and gives you a gold class view of many constellations through telescopes and binoculars. The Outback Pioneer Hotel is also a fantastic stop if you are looking for a good feed at the BBQ and Bar. There is a games room complete with air hockey table, pinball machines and more, perfect for entertaining children of all ages. They are open until 10pm most nights. The Outback Pioneer Kitchen offers a cheaper alternative with light meal and take away options.
All hotels offer complimentary airport transfers, departing your hotel approximately two hours prior to scheduled flight times. There is also complimentary wifi at all hotels and the Ayers Rock Camoground as well as a complementary shuttle bus that departs out the front of each Hotel every 20 minutes. This bus takes you to the Yullara Town Square and many eateries. It does not take you to the a National Park however you can book the Uluru Express from any Hotel or hire a car for those wishing to explore the rock at their own pace.
If you find yourself adventuring to the red centre before March 31st 2018, you will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to wander through the majestic Field of Light art installation hand crafted by world famous artist Bruce Munro. Bruce travels around the world lighting up famous landmarks with handcrafted globes, creating an unforgettable sea of colour. This particular exhibit is crowned by 50,000 hand-crafted slender stems topped with frosted glass spheres. Each bulb is illuminated by one of 144 projectors powered solely by solar panels; Bruce’s first ever solar panel installation.
To those photographers out there, the magnificent reds and aubans known so famously of the rock are most vibrant as the sun hits the rock twice a day, as the sun welcomes and farewells the day. To take the most picturesque photographs, there are designated sunset and sunrise viewing areas, perfect for sipping a cup of tea and capturing the break taking view. Aim to get to these viewing areas at least half an hour before sunrise/sunset to ensure you get a car park. For sunrise/sunset times, ask at the reception of your hotel or conversely, if you have an iPhone, the weather app will inform you.
For those of you wishing to experience Uluru at a whole other level, camel tours are a fantastic way to avoid the congestion of sunset and sunrise. Each camel tour is guided by a friendly and knowledgable host who shares about the national park and the camels themselves. The Uluru Camel Farm has the largest population of wild camels in Australia and is open daily from 9am to 3pm May to October or 9am to 1pm November to April. They are a fantastic family-friendly way to enjoy the rock in all it’s beauty.
The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a beautiful part of Australia and Indigenous Australian culture. We thoroughly enjoyed our short stay at the Sails in the Desert; a highlight definitely being the buffet breakfast. The enormity and novelty of Uluru never faded and we have made many memories that will last a lifetime.

Australia – My Highlight Reel

Australia – My Highlight Reel

I was talking to someone the other day who was over here visiting family they had come from England and realised whilst they had explored Melbourne, but they really hadn’t ventured around Australia and with their time here quickly coming to an end they asked me what my favourite places in Australia are? What are the places to me that best showcase our beautiful country?
They had seen the tourist brochures, but wanted to know if I was to make a brochure highlighting Australia what would make the list?

There is nothing like seeing the Red dirt of Central Australia.

Every time I go there I am reminded about the amazing diversity in our country. The beautiful way the red dirt contrasts with the blue sky.

Step back into History at Paronella Park

(120kms south of Cairns)
Paronella Park is a magical historic site situated beside the Mena Creek Falls. The ruins of this magical Castle is the perfect place to take some majestic photos, and imagine how Grand life would have been when the Castle was first built 80 years ago.

Take a flight over the worlds largest Coral Reef system

The great Barrier Reef. Last year we had the great opportunity to fly over the reef out of Cairns. It is an amazing view, and if you combine it with a Scuba dive / snorkel trip out on the reef and it’s an experience that you will never forget.

See some of our impressive Wildlife.

In Australia we have a great variety of wildlife from the cute and cuddly, to the more dangerous.

Take a drive on an Iconic Road.

The great ocean road is 243 kms long and runs from Torquay VIC to Allansford VIC. The Great Ocean road was built by returning soldiers between 1919 – 1932. It is dedicated to the soldiers that died during World War 1, so it is the World’s largest War memorial. There is so many great landmarks to see long the way from the Twelve apostles, Loch Arch Gorge, London bridge.

Take a trip to the Home of the Man from Snowy river.

40km east of Mansfield on Mount Sterling is the iconic Craig’s Hut, It was built especially for the film the man from Snowy river back in 1981. Unfortunately when the bushfires came through in 2006 it was burnt down, however then beautifully restored by volunteers.

What would be on your highlight reel?

Awesome walks around Australia – Part 2 Walks near Alice Springs

Awesome walks around Australia – Part 2 Walks near Alice Springs

Now what if you are travelling with young children in your Jayco Ballarat Caravan but still want to get out and go for some walks around Australia in part 2 we have compiled a list of Family friendly walks around Alice Springs

Standley Chasm

Standley Chasm is a relatively easy walk located only 50 km from Alice spring via a sealed road.

It is located on Aboriginal land so costs $10 for adults ($8 for Concessions/seniors) $6.50 for children. There are family tickets available for $25 (2 adults and 2 Children)

Gates are open between 8am and 5pm and the view at the end is simply magical.

The walk is easy, when we did this walk our daughter was 22 months old and she was able to walk some of the way (we also piggy backed her a bit) it took us about 40 minutes return including taking lots of photos.

There are some rocky sections so I would recommend good walking shoes.

Glen Helen Gorge and Homestead – Walk through the Dry Finke River

A short ten minute walk takes you to the Finke River and waterhole, the water was cold but the view was magnificent. Our children loved that they walked through the dry river bed and then once they got to the end where the water was had a great time paddling in the cold clear water.

The homestead is the perfect place for lunch with an amazing selection of lunch meals available in the Outback bar, between 11am -2:30pm
Their is also dinner available in the Namatjira Gallery Restaurant

Ormiston Gorge and Waterhole

Just 12 km from Glen Helen Homestead is the iconic waterhole.

When we visited it was just a little two cold for a swim, in saying this our 7 and 9 year old where quite happy to get their feet wet.
The walk down to the waterhole was very easy, so easy and flat in fact you could push a stroller down near the water’s edge. Only takes about 5 minutes.

There are a couple of other walks that go from Ormiston Gorge,

The Ghost Gum Lookout walk

will take you about 20 minutes to get to the edge of the Roe Creek, the walk illustrates the native plants of the area with scattered signs giving you insight into the flora and fauna of the area.

The Ormiston Pound Walk

is much longer about 3-4 hours and completes a full circle from the Visitor Centre, wanders through hills, dropping into the flat expanse of the pound, then returning along the gorge via the main Waterhole.

The last walk is the Ochre pits

, this is only a very short 300m walk so easy our 22 month old walked the whole way, and it is definitely worth it.
The colors are amazing, you want to bring your camera for this one.

So pack your runners and go for some walks around Australia, and see the countries natural beauty.

Ochre Pits Northern Territory

Ochre Pits Northern Territory

The Ochre Pits are a very popular tourist destination located 100kms west of Alice Springs.

They contain several layers of multicoloured rock that range from White, brown, yellow to a vibrant crimson red.

It is a beautiful to see.

The Ochre has been mined for generations to be used in Aboriginal paintings and body decorations.

It holds an information shelter, so you can find out even more information on how, when and why the Ochre pits where used.

There are BBQ facilities, picnic area, public toilet and a sheltered area too

Jayco That’s Freedom

Jayco, That’s Freedom

The one thing we have learnt over the last few years of traveling is the freedom you have when you are on the road with a caravan behind you.
With the help of Camps 8, we are able to map out our days and travel around this amazing country.
If we decide we like somewhere we are able to stop for a few days, if we have enough we can move along to the next place.
Australia really is a beautiful place.

Ayers Rock and surrounds

Ayers Rock and surrounds

We have spent today exploring Ayers Rock and surrounds. The campground is huge and there is a variety of little shops, service station, cafés and restaurants, as well as a Supermarket to allow us to stock back up on essentials before we head back south tomorrow.

The morning was spent with the 2 big kids and my husband braving the climb up to the peak of Ayers Rock (Uluru)

Whilst they were enjoying the views from the top, I drove around to the cultural centre, they have great displays perfect for all ages and a nice little cafe with a mix of cakes, hot food and cold drinks. Our almost 2 year old was very excited to see a great little children’s corner set up.

We went back to pick up the exhausted but very proud climbers and headed around the rock to walk some more.

It was interesting to check out the waterholes, aboriginal paintings and little caves nestled into the side that you don’t notice from a distance.
We then took the almost 45km drive to the Olga’s (Kata Tjuta) – the drive is nice with some great views along the way.

The best thing was the view on the way back was just as good.

Alice Springs at last

Alice Springs!

Our first leg of our journey is finished we have made it to Alice Springs, the red centre.

The trip today was short only 200kms so allowed us to arrive just after Lunch. It was a great way to end our journey up here, the short trip catching the children by surprise.

The Caravan Park is a hive of activity with competitors, spectators and travellers alike all getting ready for the Finke.

The start of an adventure

The start of an adventure

So today our epic adventure begins, well our mini epic adventure. Caravan packed, 4 kids in tow, and 2200 kms to drive.

We are heading to the red Centre of Australia to the Finke Desert Race.
The Finke as it is commonly known is a multi terrain off road race for bikes, cars, buggies and quads that runs for two days over the queens birthday weekend  from Alice Springs to the Aputula Community. (The community was known as Finke until 1980) the Finke river passes within a few kms.

The trip today was a good one, after a late start (4 kids, 2 under 2 will do that) it was further slowed by drivers who take a look at you with the caravan behind and decide that they can’t be ‘stuck’ behind a caravan, overtake you only then to slow 10kms under the speed limit.
With the help of our hayman reece weight distribution hitch our van towes brilliantly, so being stuck driving slow makes for a frustrating start. However that all starts to fade into insignificance as our hometown fades into the background, and the open road beacons us forth.

Caravan