Red Centre Holiday 2016: Day 9 – Yulara to Watarrka National Park, Northern Territory

It was an early start as I headed of for Watarrka National Park, for a morning that was going to be spent driving and then hopefullly setting up my campsite, before heading off for a quick walk at Watarrka National Park. My first stop was at Curtain Springs for a quick top up of the fuel, knowing that fuel was going to be expensive at Kings Canyon Resort. So after that stop it was basically nothing but driving straight to Watarrka National Park and the Kings Canyon Resort.

ABOVE: Mount Conner as Seen Along the Way to Watarrka National Park

When I arrived there were no powered campsites available as the place was pretty busy and booked out. It turned out that the Variety Bash was in the area and staying at the resort that night. It was a very crowded scene and somewhat chaotic. I managed to grab a campsite without power, set up and decided to escape to the national park for a while.

At Watarrka National Park I noticed that there was a free wifi hot spot at a shelter at the beginning of the walks. This seemed like a good thing, given that I had no Internet access at the resort. However, this proved to be near useless as nothing was able to load. It was pretty bad when more than one person was trying to access it, let alone a whole group of people. It barely worked for one! So that proved to be of no real benefit to me.

ABOVE & BELOW: Wildflowers were a feature of Kings Creek Walk

ABOVE: Wildflowers were a feature of Kings Creek Walk   BELOW: Kings Creek Walk

I decided I didn’t really have the time to do the rim walk and actually enjoy it at the same time, so I decided to start on that one early the next morning. Instead I chose to do the Kings Creek Walk, which was a comfortable 2 km return walk following Kings Creek into the canyon. It proved to be a far better walk than I had anticipated, so given I had a bit of time to play with I took my time and really enjoyed it. There wasn’t a lot of water around, but it was still a great experience and I did find a waterhole just beyond the end of the walk.

ABOVE: View From the Kings Creek Walk

ABOVE & BELOW: Kings Creek

ABOVE: Budgerigars Nesting Along Kings Creek

With the completion of the walk I returned to the resort to find I was unable to get a park next to my tent, which to be honest, really annoyed me. The resort has very poor parking facilities for campers – in fact, there was a lot about the resort that I found disappointing. The camp kitchen was terrible and the equipment poorly maintained, as was the case in both the laundry and ammenities block. Indeed, for a couple of days during my stay there was no water available across the site for hours at a time and no communication provided for visitors as to what was happening. I guess when you have a monopoly on services you can get away with pathetic service and conditions. Then of course there were the prices in the shop and the fuel price ($2.02 a litre for ULP). When I surveyed the shop my mouth dropped at the prices. It was $6.50 or $7.50 for a 1.25 litre bottle of coke and around $8.00 for a packet of Tim Tams. Everything was priced highly. It became a bit of a talking point around the tents each evening, with various plans for opening pop-up shops at the entrance of the park to sell various items at reduced prices.

I booked in and paid for 3 nights when I arrived and soon realised that I had made a mistake. Two nights would have been more than sufficient to do all that I had planned at Watarrka National Park – Kings Creek Walk, Kings Canyon Rim Walk and Kathleen Springs. So I planned to do one each day and then do some reading each afternoon. I also got to know a few people around camp which helped to pass the time also, which helped as I do like to get on with things and sitting around while travelling seems to be such a waste of time, especially when it took me so long to get to the Territory. I like to get to see as much as I can in the time I have available, so that extra night proved a very frustrating thing to me.

The distance travelled on this day was 320 km – giving me a total of 3445 km for the whole trip to this point.

When it got dark, once again, it was the usual ‘house keeping’ before bed – updating the daily journal, reviewing the holiday budget, and without the Internet, getting the photos ready to upload. Then it was off to bed for an early start the next morning, with the Kings Canyon Rim Walk before me.

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