Another busy day on the tour. Woke to lovely sunshine and Suzie got us up and moving quickly. She was right to do so, ahead of us was a 7.5km hike around the rim and through the crevices and plateaus of Kings Canyon (now called Watarrka). Some of you may have heard of this place from watching the movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. In this movie a “group of ladies” travel across the desert to preform their unique style of cabaret. Kings Canyon is famous for a scene where one of these ladies wants to be “A Cock in a Frock on a Rock”. If you have not seen this movie it is highly recommended. But how they managed to film at this location….wow, must have been some work.

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We arrived at the park by 8am in the morning and Suzie was dead bang on. She got us there before the other tour groups started landing and before the heat of the day. She made sure we were all loaded up with water and sunscreen before beginning this rather laborious hike. It begins with HeartAttack Hill. Naturally I snorted at this name, having been in the military how many hills have I heard called Heart Attack or Heart Break hill? Well, they are not joking on this one. When you reach the top, you discover an emergency phone and a defibrillator. Apparently it does get used. In fact we later seen a ranger testing the phone system haha.

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At least it had something that resembled stairs.

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Phone and Defibrillator

The younger folks in our group were off and away they went. Us wiser folks put our heads down and slowly worked our way up without looking back or up. Once we reached the top, the view is amazing.

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From the top looking back down.

We then progressed around through the valleys and plateaus and out to the rim of the canyon. Wow, what a spot. All of this desert.

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Notice the grass stuffed up my nose.  Now maybe Suzie was fucking with us but she swears that the aboriginals use this to help keep the sinuses clear.  It seemed to work, although I might look a bit silly 🙂
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I don’t know who keeps making all these amazing walkways but just working up here must be a bitch.
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Getting a lesson on the Eucalyptus tree and how you can rub the bark with your hand and then rob it on yourself as a sunscreen.   Also putting your ear up to the tree you can hear movement, water? bugs? other trees talking?
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Walking through the many plateaus.   Still some water around from all the rain.
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The famous spot for the Cock in a Frock on a Rock.

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The red walls and blue skies were quite the contrast.
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Looking down into the canyon.
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Hey buddy.
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This used to be a river bed where the ripples in the sand from the water have been preserved.
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An old riverbed on top of a mountain.

And then, you travel down into the canyon and you discover the Garden of Eden. Water flowing allowing life to flourish everywhere.

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Where there is water, there is life.
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All I could think was, if I climb down this, I have to climb back up – argh
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But the climb was completely worth it.
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The Garden of Eden
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Enjoying a rest and a snack.
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What a peaceful spot.

We took a nice period of time to rest, relax and have a snack before heading back up all the stairs to the top of the canyon where we continued the rest of the hike. In the end it took about 3.5 hours and at the end I will admit I was badly overheated. I dumped several bottles of water over my head to bring my body temperatures back down to normal. I can’t imagine doing this hike in the height of the summer heat in the mid-day. At most I would say our day was in the low 30’s and that was more than enough for me.

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At the top of the stairs an interesting formation
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Something not normal in the desert, water.
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This is tough to see but there are spirals of hills as far as the eye can see.
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Looking back into the canyon from the other side.
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Apparently yes, dumb asses do fall into this and get killed most years.
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Amazing how just a few hundred feet below is the garden.
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Beautiful formations.
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The end is in sight.   An entire loop around the canyon.

This took us close to noon so we had a nice lunch while some of us nursed our feet and aching calve muscles hahaha. Then it was off for a 4×4 adventure. 160km’s of dirt road known as the Mereenie Loop Road that takes you up towards the West MacDonnell Ranges National Park where we were to spend the next 2 days.

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And the drive starts.
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Needs a little work but definitely a keeper.
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Pee break, not many facilities in the area.
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Suzie, Carla and Carol – 3 stooges at the front of the bus 🙂
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Our amazing guide – Suzie

In the end I don’t think we ever went into 4WD but I know Suzie was concerned that the road might be washed out in a few spots from all the rain but in the end we were able to get around all the obstacles. Between all the water and the washboarding on the road, there definitely was not a right or left side, you drove wherever you could. Fortunate view ranges were good so vehicles could get around each other. But I pity anyone with lose fillings, this jarring ride definitely left you shaken, not stirred.

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Look close you can see the washboarding
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It was dry, for the most part.
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Through it or around it?

From this point onwards it was watching for wild camels (none), kangaroo’s (none) and wild horses (lots). A few pictures along the way.

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By the end the truck was covered in red mud and we arrived at a “temporary” camp. Apparently their normal camp is being moved to a new location and we were the first to use this new spot. Well, the spot was great, the facilities were great but the tents were TERRIBLE. Old pieces of shit that smelt of old canvas, had cots inside and obviously leaked like a sieve – they had loads of water inside from the rain over the previous days. But this turned in my favour as I said “No way, I am not sleeping in that damn thing, give me a swag”. What a great decision. More on that in the next story.

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Beautiful scenery everywhere we went.
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