Thursday 31 March 2011

Heathrow Airport Post. King's Canyon

Another VERY early morning on Saturday, this time with our bags packed. We checked out of the hotel and were on the coach by 4am. After a breakfast stop at a roadhouse somewhere (neither of us can actually remember this happening), we arrived at King’s Canyon around 8 o-clock. We had an inspection by the water police, AKA Richard, our guide for the day. We needed to be carrying 3 litres each, which seems a lot, but as Richard explained, in a hot, dry atmosphere you don’t realise how much moisture you are losing, and although you probably won’t need all that water if everything goes to plan, in such a remote area taking less is plain stupid.

From the coach we followed the track to here.
There are roughly 500 steps going up to the rim of the canyon, everyone in our group managed it, and despite sounding like a couple of leaky steam engines, we felt wide awake at the top and the view back to the car park was magnificent.
The geology behind the formation of the canyon is fascinating; there are three sedimentary layers, rough, conglomerate sandstone, impervious shale and finer, absorbent sandstone on top. Or in Richard’s words “A sponge on top of cling-film on top of cube sugar “. All well and good. When it rains, the water soaks into the sponge, but the cling-film keeps the sugar safe. Then there is a big enough earthquake to make a crack right through all three layers. Water gets through to the sugar cubes, which dissolve and form chasms, and everything above collapses forming a canyon. Simple stuff, but the result makes you appreciate the kind of power that is unleashed when time and gravity get together. This is the most recent collapse, it happened 70 years ago.
The one before that was 140 years ago. At that rate another big lump should be falling off any time now! Luckily it wasn’t this one.
This is fossilised sea-bed,
1000m above sea level. Cool.

Further back, where the canyon narrows, there are steps down to the Garden of Eden;
a hidden valley full of vegetation and wildlife in an otherwise harsh, barren landscape.
The walk took around three hours, Richard was very informative and interesting all the way round; he made the place come alive for us, pointing out loads of things that we would never have noticed if we’d gone on our own. The whole group got back with a real sense of achievement. Good stuff.

We re-boarded the coach and set off to King’s Canyon Resort for lunch. We sat by the pool and ate our sandwiches with our new found English friends Diana and Jenny. We swapped coaches at the Lasseter highway junction,
and we were back in Alice Springs by 7.30 pm.

Although the drivers and tour guides have no doubt done these trips numerous times before, they were still passionate and informative and had a real in-depth knowledge of the area, the flora and fauna, and the indigenous inhabitants. They were always courteous and were happy to answer any questions we had, and gave us plenty of time to take photos and look around everywhere we went. The coach journeys were all comfortable and efficient with plenty of stops. In our book, ATT Kings are the business.

It was lovely to see Ann waiting for us when the coach pulled into Todd Street. She was happy to hear we’d had such a good time and that the skies had stayed clear for us. It was equally lovely to find that she’d made Dave’s favourite dinner of cauliflower cheese. It was just like coming home.

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