Day 15: To Kings Canyon
Today will be the true test of our car, as we will navigate the Mereenie Loop, which is a 150km dirt road between Glen Helen Gorge and Kings Canyon. This road lies on Aboriginal land, and you must therefore purchase a permit from them to access their lands. This permit is really cheap at $5, and obtainable from our hotel.
But before we hit the unsealed road, we found another Gorge on our way, Redbank Gorge. As it was still early in the morning, we tried to navigate our way to this gorge on foot, but turned around without reaching the destination as the pathway had completely vanished, and we were to walk a very long way in the (dry) creek bed on loose rocks and sandy patches. As we needed our strengths for the day ahead, we turned around, found the path again and went on our merry way.
Right before the Mereenie Loop, I spotted a small, but annoying orange light on my dashboard which hadn’t been there before: the “check engine” sign had come on, and the warning “TRC OFF” was also lit. I knew this meant our Traction Control System was off, but that the car still was drivable. So, we had a little chat, and decided that pushing on was going to be the best thing to do, as we didn’t have cell phone reception at that point, and the nearest place where they would have it, would be a long drive. The car behaved itself for the rest of the trip, and we got to Kings Creek safely and timely.
The Mereenie Loop itself was remarkably well kept, and really well drivable. It was much better than we had anticipated, and there were sections where we pushed it a little and got up to 90kms/h, which is really fast on a dirt road! I thoroughly enjoyed driving the Loop, and had plenty of time to look around and enjoy the scenery. Because that is great over here! Yes, the road had some spotty parts, with dust corrugations, potholes or both, but the majority of the road was really good and very enjoyable.
Right before arriving at our final destination for the day, Kings Creek, we passed Kings Canyon, which is also known as Australia’s Grand Canyon. But we couldn’t figure out why. Sure, it is a great place, but it lacks about 90% of the grandeur of staring down a 1.5km page in the ground. Kings Canyon is a canyon between two mountains, each about 75 metres tall. The most narrow parts of the canyon itself are a sacred place to the Aboriginals and therefore inaccessible. Being there it great nonetheless, and it is a very welcome change from the drive.
After arriving at Kings Creek Station, an active Camel and cattle farm, we contacted the rental company, who immediately scheduled a swap of our car for the following morning, so we’ll awaiting that new car eagerly. Also, we will go to Uluru! The most iconic rock in the country.