Atop Kings Canyon
The top of Kings Canyon is like a prehistoric world. We started our climb before sunrise and, to be honest, we were all wondering how tough it was going to be. The honest answer is the climb wasn’t nearly as tough as we had painted it, but still it was a good heart starter!
The weird rock city atop Kings Canyon
Banks of cloud kept the light flat as we wandered around the oddly shaped rock mounds that give the plateau the appearance of an ancient city, but a city living on the edge. The top is shaped like a huge horseshoe and looking across the canyon to the other side, you can’t but be amazed at the sheer cliffs dropping down to the canyon floor.
For the less adventurous, you can walk the canyon floor instead and find plenty to photograph, but if you have the energy, the walk up and back was yet another highlight to remember.
Dave, our driver, always had a smile
We returned to King Station where we had camped the night before, had lunch, and then opened a restricted gate to the station itself. Somewhere Kings Station turns into Curtain Springs Station, but you won’t find it on many maps. In fact, Dave our driver had a hand-drawn map with key features, explaining which track to take and obstacles to avoid. It has all the hallmarks of a great adventure as we closed the gate behind us and drove into the unknown.
Desert oak, on the Curtains Springs Station road A grab shot through the windscreen as we bounce towards another sand dune
The landscape is park-like in areas, dotted with Casuarina trees, also called desert oaks. The track doesn’t look too used as it twists and turns its way through the spinifex-covered dunes. However, not is all plain sailing as Dave lines up a big dune. As we reach the top, we bottom in the soft sand and come to a complete stand still. Or should that be ‘sand still’! However, there are no dramas! We bundle out of the vehicle, scoot around to the trailer and pull down some metal plates which we place in front of the wheels. A little judicious digging in the sand here and there, unloading some suitcases to lighten the load, and eventually the vehicle is free.
Soft red sand at the top of a dune Mark puts his back into it Malik takes his turn hauling the suitcase after the truck! Alan takes a break after the truck breaks free
Yes, it’s great that the vehicle is running again, but we have to wander 100 metres down the track with our suitcases to catch up! It really is quite a comical sight!
Our desert vehicle and trailer
We only get bogged once more and eventually Dave works out just how fast he needs to run up the dunes without getting stuck. I can see he’s a little embarrassed, but none of us care – we’re having the time of our lives.
After 80 kilometres or so, we find a nice place to camp and set up. The vehicle stays on the one lane track as we are very unlikely to see anyone else, and Dave sets about preparing the meal and setting the fire while it’s light. The rest of us grab our cameras and set about exploring.
The campsite that was literally miles from anywhere. Curtain Springs Station Dinner is served! Nothing like a meal around a camp fire Mark and Alan heading back to camp after the twilight shoot
Shooting in the dunes is quite challenging as there is a lot going on, but another picture perfect evening finds us gravitating back to the camp for dinner and some night photography of the stars. The light from the fire is illuminating the desert oaks while the Milky Way above is simply breathtaking. ISO 3200, 30 seconds, f4.
The tree is illuminated by the glowing embers of our dying fire